Athlete of the Month: Taylor Kenealy

Olivia Taylor, Sports Writer

Girls’ soccer remains undefeated and is ranked sixth in the country, and junior Taylor Kenealy has been key to the team’s success this fall. Kenealy, a forward, has contributed 9 goals and 8 assists, leading the team in both categories.

Besides scoring nearly a quarter of the Wildcats’ goals this year, she proudly represented the U.S. over the summer, traveling to Europe to play against the most skilled teams in England and Ireland while on a national team.

Still, Taylor shared that one of her best soccer memories took place after returning home, when Eagan triumphed over Prior Lake, who was ranked first in the state at the time.

Head coach Ozturk said of Kenealy, “Taylor influences the team with her hard work ethic, making others around her contribute in the same capacity.” He recalled a pre-season scrimmage in which Taylor collided with Edina’s goalie while pursuing a ball. “She never hesitated. Her desire to score and win a meaningless scrimmage showed me how competitive of a player she was, and that she would be someone I could count on during games that really mattered.” Coach Ozturk claimed that despite breaking her wrist in the hit, Taylor continued to play through the remainder of the game.

Though her talent may seem purely innate, Kenealy says that her long history with the sport has helped her get this far. She started playing in kindergarten, mainly due to the fact that almost everybody she knew was joining. “Then I just stuck with it, and every year I kept getting better. It was always something I wanted to do.”

When it comes to practice drills, Kenealy stated, “One that I hate is ‘passing and moving’ just because my legs are so sore at the beginning of practice and it takes me a little while to get warmed up.” On the other hand, she said that she enjoys practicing corner kicks, stretching, and shooting drills.

Kenealy also remarked on her duties as one of the captains, saying, “You have to stay positive no matter what the outcome of the game is, no matter how you are playing, or how your day went at school. Once you step on the field, it’s all about soccer and all about your team.” Undoubtedly, Kenealy will be able to continue embodying this mentality as she plays a big role in the girls’ remaining games.