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Originally published Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 5:03 PM

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Five questions with Issaquah senior Rachel Wheeler | Girls soccer

Wheeler had a devastating injury in last year’s playoffs, but is back for her final year before heading to the University of Kentucky.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Five questions with Issaquah senior soccer player Rachel Wheeler, a University of Kentucky commit:

Q: Is there any pregame ritual you follow strictly and are you a big pregame music person?

A: “I listen to pump-up music on my iPod and get away from everyone and visualize. I like to listen to Hillsong, a Christian band, which kind of relaxes me. Then, after that I like to listen to house music to pump me up and get the blood pumping. Hillsong is a good reminder of how blessed I am to be able to play.”

Q: Describe the devastation you felt when tore the ACL in your left knee in last year’s Class 4A state quarterfinals and how that drives you in 2013? What was the extent of your injury and how long was your rehab? Then, you got hurt (bone contusion of right knee) again in this year’s first match, so how are you doing?

A: “Last year, I was heartbroken to not be able to be out on the field with my team competing in the (4A) state final (a 1-0 loss to Skyline). I was still 100 percent part of the team on the sidelines. We didn’t finish where we wanted to, and that’s added a little more motivation to this season. I didn’t play for about six months and played with my club team and practiced and scrimmaged. My first official game was Friday night against Mount Si (a 3-0 win). In the last minute of the game, I got hit in the back of my right leg. Now, I have two weeks of physical therapy. It’s just a contusion and some damaged tissue, so I’m thankful and happy about that.”

Q: Is there a player you model your game after?

A: “For sure, Alex Morgan. It’s obvious, but it’s her speed and her all-out will to just take the ball at you, no matter what. It’s her mentality in front of the net. It’s definitely something I’m learning.”

Q: You committed to the University of Kentucky pretty early. What was the appeal of traveling so far away from the Northwest to play soccer?

A: “I got to be around the team on my visit and see how it’s building and the excitement. They made the NCAA last year and did very well. The academics were appealing too. I got to watch them play and be around the team and you could just feel the enthusiasm they have for the future.”

Q: If you could play any other sport and make a living at it, what would it be?

A: “I’d probably have to say basketball. I played basketball in middle school. We had a team of all my club soccer teammates. We couldn’t shoot the best, but we could run past them. It was awesome.”

Matt Massey

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