GODFREY — The date Oct. 15 may or may not be circled on Taylor Hansen’s calendar, but you can bet she’ll know the significance when it rolls around in a month or so.
It’ll mark a year since she started thinking that she might not play college soccer beyond Lewis and Clark Community College. In fact, there was a time she wasn’t sure she’d be back this season after recovering from the third concussion of her playing career that spans the pee wee years through club soccer with Scott Gallagher SC, high school at Edwardsville and finally L&C.
And while Hansen hasn’t officially decided that this season at L&C will be her final on the soccer field, she’s playing as if it may well be. She’s leaving it on the field every game.
Call it a more intense intensity.
“I might not play any more after this year,” Hansen said. “I love the game and I love this team, but recovering from the concussion last year, I kind of started thinking about it.”
Hansen suffered a concussion Oct. 15 last year in a game at Schoolcraft College in Michigan. She was out of commission the rest of the regular season and the Region 24 and district playoffs. She was able to return to action in time for the Trailblazers’ games at the NJCAA National Tournament in Florida.
“I was glad I was able to come back for the nationals,” Hansen said. “I was able to help the team there.”
Indeed. Hansen played in both L&C games at the 2017 nationals, but the team was eliminated after going 1-1 in pool play. The Trailblazers got Hansen back in their lineup a game after losing scorer Audrey Andrzejewski in the district playoff game.
With the disappointment of falling short of a third national championship for L&C combined with thoughts of possibly hanging up her soccer shoes, Hansen has hit the field running this season. The midfielder has scored a pair of goals and added six assists for the No. 6-ranked and 7-0 Trailblazers.
“It’s fun,” Hansen said following a 5-0 victory over rival Southwestern Illinois College last week in Belleville. “This team works together really well and we have a lot of players back. Playing for (LC coach Tim) Rooney is awesome.
“I think we have some unfinished business at the nationals, but we have to do it one game at a time.”
At L&C, she’s been a play-making midfielder as well as a withdrawn midfielder when needed. But she said defense holds a special place in her heart. She’s also the Trailblazers’ go-to player for corner kicks and consistently places the ball in the other team’s danger zone.
Hansen received an All-Sectional recognition from the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association her senior season at Edwardsville, where she anchored a stingy Tigers defense.
“I love playing defense,” Hansen said. “You can tell that.”
Indeed. Late in the win over SWIC, Rooney needed a quick sub for a defender who’d gone down with a minor injury.
Hansen, already on the bench with the big lead, jumped up and said, “I’ll do it.”
When Rooney agreed to send her on as a defender, Hansen was more than happy.
“Yes!” she shouted as she raced onto the field. “I love defense.”
And even though she was on as a defender only a couple minutes, she came off with a grin on her face.
“Defense is fun,” she said. “I got my two minutes of fame today.”
Rooney said Hansen is the type of player he knows he can count on.
“Oh, Taylor’s just a real solid, hard-working player,” he said. “She’s the kind of player you can put on the field anywhere and be confident she’ll handle it.”
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