Nesbeth finding her feet at FSU
Bermuda striker LeiLanni Nesbeth has enjoyed an outstanding regular season with Florida State University, finishing as their joint top scorer with four goals as they ended with a perfect 8-0 record.
Nesbeth was featured in an article on the FSU website before the team’s final regular-season game against No 3 Clemson on Sunday, which they won 2-0. Jody Brown, a freshman from Jamaica whom Nesbeth played against in the 2017 Concacaf Under-17 Championship qualifiers in Haiti, netted in the 79th and 90th minutes to secure the win. The two goals also enabled Brown to finish joint top scorer with Nesbeth.
The season was shortened because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the second-ranked Seminoles made the adjustment with Nesbeth leading the way as the team head into the ACC Tournament next week.
Nesbeth’s build-up to the season began in the summer when she returned home to Bermuda to quarantine and to recover from meniscus surgery.
“I was just finding ways to get fitness in running within a ten-yard space, running back and forth trying to get my fitness,” Nesbeth said in the article.
Nesbeth wasn’t all alone in practice, however, as she was able to round up a few defenders to work with her — even if they were a little smaller than the competition she would come up against at the college level.
“It was definitely interesting, you know, you try to find different ways to get my little brother and my little sister to play soccer, so they can be my defenders,” Nesbeth said.
Nesbeth has settled into her role this season, starting the FSU games at either the forward or midfield position. However, playing collegiate soccer in the United States was far from Nesbeth’s lifelong plan, the article noted.
Growing up in Bermuda, she played both football and basketball, but originally gravitated towards cricket when she eventually signed with Brighton’s youth development academy in Britain. After going to England to attend high school and develop further as a cricketer, Nesbeth found herself drawn once again to soccer.
Shortly after she realised that she could unite both her college studies and sports careers in the United States, she signed with the Seminoles.
“It was kind of late when I decided I wanted to come over to the US … Florida State had just won the 2018 national championship, so I was ecstatic that I was even able to be offered,” Nesbeth revealed, adding that the coaching staff and overall level of competition made FSU seem like a “perfect fit”.
Despite not typically playing a full 90 minutes, Nesbeth has impressed head coach Mark Krikorian by leading the Seminoles’ scoring with four goals. They are guaranteed at least a share of the regular season ACC Championship, with their focus now switching to the conference tournament.
“We’re trying to make the most of what we have in preparation for the ACC Tournament, and next spring when we’ll hopefully have the national championship as well,” she said. “I think, as a team, we’ve adapted very well.”
FSU will play Notre Dame in the first round next Tuesday in Cary, North Carolina.