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Kelli Hubly found peace in Portland. The Thorns found another star.

Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Kelli Hubly has played every single minute of every single match so far this National Women’s Soccer League season, her most consistent yet for Portland Thorns FC.

Over the past five years, the now 28-year-old defender has quietly made herself a crucial piece of a Portland team consistently contending for trophies. Despite struggling with limited playing time and positional changes, her infectious work ethic and genuine personality helped her make the most of her opportunities in one of the world’s toughest leagues.

“If you would’ve told me 10 years ago that I’d be playing next to Becky [Sauerbrunn] and at center back, I’d have said, ‘yeah, sure, haha,” Hubly told The Equalizer earlier this summer. “I thought I was going to quit soccer and now look at me. I’m playing professionally.”

Hubly’s professional career nearly never happened.

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