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LeiLanni Nesbeth targeting professional career after NCAA success

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LeiLanni Nesbeth poses with the NCAA Championship trophy after the Seminoles 5-1 win over Stanford in the final in North Carolina on Monday night (Photograph supplied)

LeiLanni Nesbeth has set her sights on playing professional women’s football.

The Bermuda midfielder, 22, revealed her ambition to reach that level after winning her second NCAA Championship when she helped Florida State University win their fourth national title and a third in the past six seasons this week.

“The plan is to play professionally,” Nesbeth told The Royal Gazette. “I’ll be having those conversations with different parties, sitting down with my coaches and my family obviously to start to construct a plan and look at all the different possibilities to play professionally.

“Everything is moving pretty fast. So I am just trying to soak up some rest and enjoy this celebration in preparation for graduation and then dive into what’s going to be a long but very exciting plan for my professional career.”

School senior Nesbeth ended her college career on a glorious note after helping the unbeaten Seminoles to an emphatic 5-1 win over Stanford in the NCAA Championship final at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina, on Monday night.

“To end my college career after winning a national championship is absolutely unreal and to win with a group like this, with coaches and people like this, just makes this moment even sweeter,” she said.

“What a performance. Everyone stepped up in every way and we showed up against a really good Stanford team. I don’t think the scoreline fully represents just how good a team they are and for them to make it to this stage just shows that.

“I’m so excited to end a long, challenging, but amazing college career this way. It’s bittersweet but I’m excited to cherish this moment with my team and my family.”

Nesbeth won two national and four Atlantic Coast Conference titles during a remarkable college career with Florida State but it has not been without its share of challenges.

LeiLanni Nesbeth poses with the NCAA Championship trophy after the Seminoles 5-1 win over Stanford in the final in North Carolina on Monday night (Photograph supplied)

“College has been a roller-coaster,” she said. “Coming into a national championship team coming back from an ACL tear was probably one of the most challenging years of my life in freshman year. Trying to play my role in the team and slowly progressing and finding ways to contribute more and more.

“To get to where I’m at, I’m kind of starstruck because there have been immense doubts and fear during this journey for me. Not knowing if I’d ever end up being a high-minute player, contributing both in the attack and defensively and then to obviously win not one but two national championships is crazy.

“I have grown so much and obviously that has shown in my game as I have picked up on new things and I feel as though my game defensively has been the biggest area of improvement. I have matured and have grown as a team-mate and a leader, and that is one of the things I am most proud of.

“I have played under some great coaches here and have met some great people. My team-mates are incredible and I have built some amazing life-lasting friendships that I am forever grateful for.

“This journey has had its fair share of tears, worries and fear, but to end it like this and to look back on the person and player I was in 2019 is incredible. I am finding myself now more than ever thanking God for giving me the strength to push through so much to get here.

“I am so grateful to my family and other great people in my life who simply won’t allow me to give up. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and it’s one I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

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Published December 07, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated December 08, 2023 at 8:09 am)

LeiLanni Nesbeth targeting professional career after NCAA success

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