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‘It’s nice to come into a game and get my first professional goal’

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LeiLanni Nesbeth runs back to the halfway line after scoring for Chicago Red Stars

LeiLanni Nesbeth hopes her first goal playing in a Chicago Red Stars shirt is the first of many.

The Bermudian officially opened her scoring account for the club in second-half stoppage time after coming off the bench in the 78th minute as a replacement for fellow midfielder Julia Bianchi in a 4-2 loss at home to Washington Spirit in the National Women’s Soccer League on Wednesday night.

“Last night was incredible,” Nesbeth told The Royal Gazette yesterday.

“I know we didn’t get the result we wanted, and that’s the main thing, but it was definitely just nice to come into a game and get my first professional goal under my belt. It feels like a burden being lifted off my shoulders for sure.

“As the saying goes, once you get one usually a couple of more start to go into the back of the net after that, so hopefully that’s true.”

Nesbeth was making her third appearance for the Red Stars, but the transition to life as a professional has not been easy after she fractured her pelvic bone and suffered a meniscus injury.

“I picked up an injury [fractured pelvic bone] that caused me to be out for the majority of pre-season,” she said.

“Then I came back recently and got some issues with my knees, so I have just been battling some stuff, trying to get back into the swing of things and manage my health.

“It’s definitely been a rollercoaster of a pre-season to say the least, and at the start of the season I wasn’t picking up many minutes as I was trying to be conservative with my body and how much load I was putting on myself because it definitely isn’t at 100 per cent.

“It’s just been a lot of managing what I can in training and just trying to get to where I can play at high level for a certain amount of time, and hopefully in the near future build on that and continue to add minutes.”

Nesbeth has embarked on a steep learning curve as she continues making the necessary adjustments playing for her new club at this level.

“It’s just been nice to get a feel for the team,” she said.

“I am still learning and the league is definitely a lot different than college in terms of the workload, the pace, the experience, skill set and physicality.

“The competitive level is definitely a shift up but I am slowly adapting and definitely have to be lot more disciplined than I was in college.

“I am excited to be in this environment and in this atmosphere. It’s definitely been challenging to say the least. But like I said, I am just learning, trying to graft all the information that I possibly can and continuing to work on my craft, day in, day out.”

The Red Stars are sixth in the NWSL standings with three wins, three losses and a draw under their belt in the seven matches they have played.

“Obviously, we have had a better start to our season than I think the team has had in previous years, so that’s a small win and a positive to take from the games we have played so far,” Nesbeth said.

“I think we are still trying to find our identity and what we are all about and that’s going to be massive moving forward, that thing that you know you can always get back to when things maybe aren’t going your way and that you know the team is really good at.

“You want to take pride in that and know what we are about, so that we can have a good foundation of what the team looks like from personnel to coaching staff, to players on the bench to players starting.

“It goes a long way and we still have ways to go. I think we are still learning and still growing in different areas.

“We have a bunch of new, different pieces that we are adding to this puzzle and we are just trying to find ways to be successful.

“No team is perfect, but we need to take pride in that and work towards that every single game.That’s going to be huge and something we still can tighten up on and make sure we are all on the same page.

“There is obviously a lot more football to be played. This season is still very, very young so there’s going to be opportunities for us to showcase ourselves and our talents and what the team is aiming to do.

“There’s a lot of time to go and hopefully in a couple of months time we can look back at these games at the start of the season and see how far we’ve come and grown as a team. Hopefully that also leads to more success.”

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Published May 03, 2024 at 8:02 am (Updated May 03, 2024 at 2:37 pm)

‘It’s nice to come into a game and get my first professional goal’

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