CHESHIRE — Even when her granddaughter was only 5 years old and kicking a soccer ball around the yard, Helen Taylor could tell sports would play a big part in her life.
But Taylor could never have imagined she would be watching her granddaughter — American goalie Alyssa Naeher — and her teammates win the World Cup Sunday by defeating the Netherlands 2-0.
“I knew she’d be something, but I didn’t know she’d be a professional,” said the 100-year-old Taylor, who watched the game at Elim Park retirement community with family and friends.
Naeher’s aunts, Mary Lou Greer and Betty Ann Hardy, leaned forward in their seats and cheered every time their niece made a save. “If I fell like that I’d be broken,” Greer said after a diving save by Naeher.
Taylor said her granddaughter’s success is the result of dedication and practice. “She plays with all of her heart,” Taylor said. “I’m just very proud of her.”
Naeher got her start in soccer while attending the Christian Heritage School in Trumbull, where she also played basketball. She went on to play at Penn State University and then with the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League.
“Ever since she was a little girl, she’s had a ball in her hand playing with her twin sister,” said uncle Dan Greer. “She just loved playing sports, whatever it was.”
The entire family was proud to see all that hard work pay off. “When she wants something she trains hard for it,” said Naeher’s cousin, Lorna Tyrell. “You couldn’t do it without the raw talent, but I think her determination has a lot to do with it.”
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