As Sky Blue continue, improbably, to have life in the playoff race, one player unable to take part in the fun is Taylor Lytle. The 25-year-old midfielder has not played since suffering a tibia plateau fracture on her left leg May 11 at Western New York.
“It’s a struggle,” Lytle said of having to watch her team from the bench or the Internet. “It’s really hard actually, especially playing games and then watching. Mentally it’s been hard. But overall I’m trying to be a good teammate.”
Compounding the frustration is that at the time of the injury, Lytle, an undrafted free agent signing in 2013, was playing the best soccer of her career. Of particular note was her midfield connection with Katy Freels.
“I felt that I had finally gotten very comfortable with this league and the play and the pace of it all,” she said. “So when the injury occurred I was really upset because I felt like I was finally making an impact within the team.
“I love playing with Katy. We were finally realizing where each of us were making our runs, doing one-twos, reading the ball well. It was hard to break away from that connection with her.”
The sadness of frustration with not being able to play soccer aside, everything else with Lytle’s injury is going as planned. She is off the crutches—she was seen on the bench with her left leg elevated in the early matches after the injury—and expects to be running by the end of August. When her teammates disperse Lytle will remain with her host family until the screws are removed from her leg by Sky Blue doctors.
“It’s good to be off the crutches and on the brace, and my recovery is coming along well.”
Lytle has been to most practices since her injury but has been limited to gingerly chasing down balls and chatting with teammates. And she credits those teammates for their support, particularly in the days right after the injury and subsequent surgery.
“I can say that my teammates have been very good at incorporating me into everything,” Lytle said. “When I got injured they came and visited me at my host family’s house. They keep me in the loop on everything. I hang out with them all the time. It’s very nice. I feel a part of the team even though I’m not playing.”
One thing Lytle has not done is watched a replay of the injury. In time she will, but for now the memory of it is enough. “In my mind I’m still battling it. I remember I was looking at the ball and running, and I could see someone rolling. And my leg was kind of falling over her. And then some popping. And then a lot of yelling on my part.
“I knew something was wrong. I didn’t know what. They did all the knee tests and it felt fine. But I just knew that something was very off. It could have been worse.”
The memory is enough for now though. “I haven’t gotten up the courage to watch it yet.”
Lytle said that every time she has gone to the doctor and gotten X-Rays that the results have been positive. She said the recovery has gone perfectly so far. She said if the NWSL season was a month longer she may have pushed herself to make it back. Now she’ll go with the doctor’s pace, and once the screws are out and she gets to take charge of her own rehab it will be back to Texas for the offseason. After that, she hopes, it will be back to Sky Blue for 2015.
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