Shortly before the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup that began Monday, a Southern California resident suffered a debilitating injury that threw her dream of representing her nation into doubt. That description fits Shannon Boxx, the former South Torrance High star who battled back from a serious knee injury to make the U.S. World Cup team. But it also accurately describes Torrance resident Simone Carmichael, a good friend of Boxx who graduated from the same high school the same year the U.S. star did. But unlike Boxx, widely considered the best female holding midfielder in the world, the 30-year-old Carmichael is virtually unknown. Carmichael plays in midfield for New Zealand, where she was born, although she has lived in the South Bay since age 6. And if anything, her return to competitive soccer is an even more remarkable story than Boxx, who sustained her injury last year. In contrast, Carmichael completely ruptured her Achilles’ tendon in May, just 41/2 months ago. “We see most professional athletes (with that injury) take nine months to a year to return – a really exceptional case is six months,” said Ken Vick, her coach and sports performance director at Redondo Beach-based Velocity Sports Performance, where Carmichael rehabbed. “She’s just blowing people away,” he added. “I’ve seen athletes come back from huge injuries before, but this is just incredible.” A veteran on a young New Zealand team, Carmichael – who goes by her maiden name, Ferrara, on the World Cup roster – has scored five goals in 12 appearances for the Ferns, as the team is known. The all-time assist leader for UC Irvine, Carmichael’s career has been dogged by injury. She tore a hamstring while trying out for the San Diego Spirit of the defunct Women’s United Soccer Association and never played in the league. Instead, she played a year of pro soccer in China – an experience that will serve her well at this year’s World Cup, which is being held in the nation. Carmichael has played the last six years in the Women’s Premier Soccer League for Rolling Hills Estates-based Ajax America, perennial contenders for the national title. After giving birth to her daughter, Kaitlyn, she began training at Velocity – where U.S. women’s national team players Cat Whitehill and Leslie Osborne also work out – a year ago Monday in an effort to regain her spot on the New Zealand roster. Carmichael succeeded and made the trip to Papua, New Guinea this spring, where New Zealand qualified for the World Cup. Unknown to anyone at the time though, a side effect of the anti-malaria medication she took to prepare for that trip caused ligament weakness. During a sprinting drill May 1, she felt her Achilles pop. “It was devastating,” said her husband, Pete Carmichael. “A lifelong dream and it seemed at the time to be gone. It was really tough.” But so, it turned out, is Carmichael. Working daily with Vick and a physical therapist, she tapped the state of the art technologies at Velocity’s 18,000-square-foot facility, including running force analysis and vibration training. “Her training was always walking a fine line between protecting and healing the repair and pushing her forward in small but continuous steps,” Vick said. On Aug. 12, Carmichael and Vick traveled to Chicago, where New Zealand was playing the U.S., so the Ferns coaches could evaluate her fitness. Two weeks later, she was named to the World Cup roster, despite not having played a full 90 minutes for the team since the injury. “I’m taking each day as it comes,” she e-mailed over the weekend from China. “I’m still not 100 percent, but I think I’m getting pretty close. No one expected me to be.” Carmichael anticipates sitting out New Zealand’s first two group games and is aiming to return for the Sept. 19 match against China, which the Ferns coaches believe offers the best chance of a victory. Carmichael missed her daughter’s first birthday on Monday as well as the move into the family’s new home. But the once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing in a World Cup is worth it. “It was a hard four months,” she wrote. “I surprised a lot of people. But the World Cup has been a lifelong dream of mine and I was determined to beat the odds and not let it get away.” And she’ll have something to tell her daughter about one day. Read more about the Women’s World Cup at the new soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!