Taylor Matsubara suffered an ACL injury right after her freshman season with the Punahou varsity girls soccer team.
That injury led to serious complications that required multiple surgeries on her knee and took her out of the lineup for her sophomore and junior seasons.
But the defender is back in action as a senior and loving it. She made a fine defensive play to stop a late Aiea chance on Monday in a 1-0 victory in the opening round in Division I of the Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA Girls Soccer State Championships.
“I just started playing again four months ago,” Matsubara said after Monday’s game. “It was right before the school season. I had played maybe three club games before tryouts. It was quite a journey.”
Constant setbacks and rehab was not what Matsubara had in mind when she decided to play high school soccer.
“After the first surgery, while trying to make it back, there was a re-tear and so I had another surgery. After that, I got infected with staph and they had to do two flushouts (surgeries). At that point, I stayed out for a year to make sure I was free from any illness. After that, it tore again (requiring another ACL surgery).
“I’m very lucky to have the support of all of my family, friends and teammates. They have really made me stay committed and they kept me in the right head space in order for me to be where I am today.”
According to Punahou coach Shelley Izuno, Matsubara was more than a trooper going through all of that suffering.
“I got to know Taylor as her coach in her intermediate, eighth-grade year,” Izuno said. “She had amazing tenacity and an amazing attitude. While she was going through those multiple surgeries, I would say, ‘Hey Tay, just hang in there, stay positive. You’re going to come back.’ She was like, ‘Yup, yup. I’m good. I’m good. I’m good.’ At times, it was like she was way stronger than the adults. It takes so much to go through surgeries. She knew she wanted to play her senior year. It was a long two years for her, but there’s no place she wanted to be more than on this team playing in her senior year. It’s inspiring.”
Matsubara and the ILH runner-up Buffanblu (8-0-3) play Thursday in the state quarterfinals against MIL champion and third-seeded King Kekaulike (9-0-1) at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
Matsubara’s parents are thrilled to watch their daughter back in action.
“We had no idea if Taylor would ever be able to run again, let alone try to play soccer competitively ever again,” her father, Wyeth Matsubara, said. “So, it has been a very gratifying experience for us to be able to observe her perseverance, resilience and never get down or give up attitude — especially for a teenager — and watch her journey to get back on the field wearing her Punahou uniform and competing and having fun.”
HHSAA D-I Tournament
|1||Feb. 3||KS-Maui vs. Campbell||KSM, 1-0||KS-Maui|
|2||Feb. 3||Moanalua vs. Kailua||Moan, 1-0||Moanalua|
|3||Feb. 3||Hilo vs. Pearl City||PC, 3-1||Hilo Bayfront|
|4||Feb. 3||Punahou vs. Aiea||Pun, 1-0||Punahou|
|5||Feb. 6||(4) Konawaena vs. Moanalua||Kona, 1-0||Waipio|
|6||Feb. 6||(3) King Kekaulike vs. Punahou||KK, 1-0||Waipio|
|7||Feb. 6||(2) Mililani vs. Pearl City||PC, 2-1||Waipio|
|8||Feb. 6||(1) Kamehameha vs. KS-Maui||KSK, 1-0||Waipio|
|9*||Feb. 7||Moanalua vs. KS-Maui||KSM, 3-0||Waipio|
|10*||Feb. 7||Punahou vs. Mililani||Mil, 1-0 (PKs)||Waipio|
|11||Feb. 7||Konawaena vs. Kamehameha||KSK, 3-0||Waipio|
|12||Feb. 7||King Kekaulike vs. Pearl City||KK, 2-0||Waipio|
|13*||Feb. 8||KS-Maui vs. Mililani||Mil, 2-1||Waipio|
|14*||Feb. 8||Konawaena vs. Pearl City||Tie, 2-2||Waipio|
|15||Feb. 8||Kamehameha vs. King Kekaulike||KSK, 1-0||Waipio|
|* — consolation|