Central Coast native and Manly United product Laura Farrelly has signed with Marshall University in West Virginia, taking the number of Australians playing in Conference USA to two, alongside Old Dominion’s Gaby Bentley. Farrelly also becomes the second former Manly United player to head to college in recent years, following former Washington State player and 2015 College Matildas Freshman of the Year, Tia Gavin.
An attacking midfielder, Farrelly spent the 2017 season playing in the reserves side for Manly United in NPL New South Wales, featuring in all 18 games for a side that finished sixth in the competition with ten wins and eight losses, narrowly missing out on the finals. Marshall coach Kevin Long has already expressed his happiness at Farrelly’s work ethic and game sense. In an official release, Long stated that “[Laura] is attacking her workouts and brings us a different perspective on the field we were looking for. She will play somewhere in the midfield for us, has already proven to have great vision on the field, dynamic runs in the attacking third and is looking to be dangerous every time she touches the ball.”
Living on the Central Coast of New South Wales and playing for Manly United has made for a lot of travel time for Farrelly whilst progressing through the junior ranks, and ironically, a move to the other side of the world has helped remove that obstacle.
“College was always one of those things which was always there as a possibility in the back of my mind since I was introduced to the idea by one of my friends who began the process,” Farrelly explained. “How I saw it was – college was an opportunity for me to thrive in a competitive soccer environment whilst being so close to campus that my studies weren’t as heavily affected as they would’ve been if I had been studying in Australia, where the commute down and back to training took out 3+ hours of my day which made keeping up with schoolwork and study hard.”
“Being in such a tight knit environment where classes and training are within walking distance meant that I could more efficiently balance my schedule so that I was making the most out of the times when I wasn’t training to get on with some of the work from my courses towards a degree which was being paid for by my soccer.”
With the idea of college set in stone, Farrelly was intent on finding a school that fit, and through an extended process, found Marshall to be the best fit.
“To tell about my personality a little, I am a relatively quiet to myself person who thrives in a family-like environment. I love knowing the majority of the people around me and so a college on the smaller side was always a priority for me if possible,” Farrelly said. “With a smaller college I tended to find the relationship between teammates was even larger than bigger colleges that I had talked to. Throughout the process of talking to coaches to find the right the right fit for me, we met many coaches whose colleges offered a lot in terms of facilities, education, high level soccer and so on, but none quite so much as (Marshall Head Coach) Kevin Long and (Assistant Coach) Erika Duncan had to offer me at Marshall University.”
“Marshall offered me the chance to play soccer at the highest level in a very competitive conference as well as aid financially in paying for an education which would help me in gaining my degree in exercise science. Through the numerous amounts of Skype calls which my parents and I interacted with Marshall, we were able to gain a good feel of the environment I would spend my next 4 years in.”
As well as the coaches, Farrelly was able to get an insight from the players that would become her teammates, opening her eyes to the environment at Marshall.
“I was able to privately talk to some of the girls from the team about dorms, on campus life and any other questions regarding the life of a student-athlete. This helped me to gain a realistic view of what I was getting myself into in terms of an extremely busy schedule of intense training mixed in with my classses. The engagement of both Kevin and Erika throughout the process intensified my feeings towards the college as they took steps beyond expectations to try make me feel comfortable and part of the Herd.”
The Marshall squad will lose two regular midfield players to graduation, including regular starter McKenna Klodrick, who has played almost every minute in the last two seasons, meaning that there will be minutes available in the midfield, but there will be an almighty battle for those now open positions.