Oct. 24—MADISON — Madison girls soccer coach Chad Butler describes Taylor MacAdam, his goalie, as "fearless."
"She sometimes makes me nervous the way she comes flying out of the box," the coach said of his junior keeper. "She is not afraid to dive at someone's feet with her hands to pull the ball out of there."
When it comes to protecting her team's net, MacAdam has no fear.
A year ago, though, she got the scare of her life, when MacAdam was infected with a blood clot that wiped out her season.
Though the Blue Streaks lost their Division I district semifinal to Walsh Jesuit Monday night to finish the season at 11-6-2, the 2023 season was a very special one. Having MacAdam back in net was a big reason why.
Madison captured the Chagrin Valley Conference Lake Division championship and earned a Division I sectional title with a 2-1 double overtime win over Chardon last Thursday.
Butler also surpassed his 100th career win this season.
But for MacAdam just being able to be back on the pitch with her team again was as rewarding as anything the Blue Streaks have been able to accomplish this fall.
Last season, MacAdam was scheduled to start in the net for Madison, until she felt something not right in her shoulder area after a preseason game in Mentor.
"At first, I thought it was just a pulled muscle," she said of her own initial diagnosis of the pain.
In a short time, the pain faded, but then hours later it resurfaced in a big way.
"It didn't get worse until the middle of the night," MacAdam said. "By then, it was almost unbearable."
MacAdam's parents took her the next morning to an Urgent care center to check out what they thought was just a routine sports injury.
The medical team that looked at her suspected it could be something much worse.
"They thought there was a small chance it was a blood clot," MacAdam said. "We had already been there all day, so we figured we may as well check it out."
The suspicion proved to be true and MacAdam found herself in the hospital for four days.
"It was kind of scary, but honestly, at first, I didn't really process it," she said of her condition. "I was mostly just concerned about getting back to soccer. I've been playing my whole life."
Instead, her doctors put her on blood thinners and MacAdam's sophomore season was wiped out.
She was expected to be the team's starting goalie, but her role was reduced to being just able to watch and offer whatever vocal support she could.
"It was very difficult for me," MacAdam said of not being able to play. "Í didn't think it would affect me that much, but being there and not being able to play, just sitting there and not being able to do anything was very difficult.
What made it worse, was the Blue Streaks did not really have anyone else with MacAdam's skillset to cover the nets the way she could.
"I felt like I let everyone down," she said.
Butler said it was something her team tried not to dwell on, but everyone realized just how much her presence was missed.
"It was an awkward thing last season," the coach said. "We didn't want to talk about how much we missed having Taylor back there because she is so good.
"But, it was a factor. I think it was the highest goal number we ever allowed in a single season and it was definitely because we lost somebody with experience at that spot."
Fully recovered, though, her return paid obvious dividends throughout the season.
A year ago, Madison gave up 42 goals. This season that number was cut in half to 21.
Madison also went from three shutouts
a year ago up to six
this season, including one against Lake Catholic 3-0 earlier this month, the only time that's happened in school history.
"There have been several games that we can track back to her and say we didn't lose because we had her in goal," Butler said.
MacAdam played her position with the same fearlessness that she displayed before the blood clot. Looking back, though, she realizes the seriousness of her condition and is thankful not only for her recovery, but also for the support from her teammates.
"What was really scary was the blood clot was in my lung," she said. "I have heard that people have died from blood clots and we just thought it was a sports injury. That's the really scary part.
"But, my teammates were wonderful, they'd be checking up on me constantly. I had a great support system which made it a lot easier to deal with."