Serendipity lands Allan at West Liberty
If there was ever anything meant to be it was Beatrice Allan playing NCAA Division 2 scholarship soccer with the West Liberty Hilltoppers in West Virginia.
The 17-year-old St. Catharines resident had decided to hang up her cleats and study nursing at the University of Ottawa.
“I was finished with soccer and I was ready to stop,” the recent graduate of Sir Winston Churchill said. “I was ready to just focus on school.”
In late April, she decided to accompany her Niagara International Football Club team to a retreat in West Virginia just for fun.
“We trained with the team in West Liberty and the coaches there told me that their centre back had just tore her ACL the previous week and they needed someone to fill in for the fall,” the 5-foot-9 player said. “It literally just fell into place and I took the chance because it was obviously meant to be. It would be silly not to take the chance.”
West Liberty made the offer to Allan after watching her Niagara International FC squad compete in a couple of friendly matches.
“After the first one, they came up to me and told me that they would love it if I came and played for them. It was ‘OK. I have a lot to think about here.’ I had just gone to the retreat for fun and to hang out with my soccer team. I had no intention of wanting to pursue soccer.”
What made the offer even more appealing is that West Liberty is home to a strong nursing program.
“Everything just happened to fall into place.”
Allan has not set any personal goals for her first season of NCAA soccer.
“I am kind of going in blind. I am trying to set no expectations for myself. I want to play, that’s the goal, and I want to make new friends and have this whole new experience.”
Allan started playing house league soccer when she was four and started competing at the travel level on an under-9 team. She has been with Niagara International for three seasons.
From the very beginning, she has always played defence.
“My parents always told me that I stuck to the back and I never wanted to go up or anything.”
That stance is somewhat unusual because most kids want to score goals.
“I don’t know why but I just like being that secure person in the back. I really like that feeling.”
She feels her game continues to evolve.
“I feel that I am a very composed player and I am also strong at communication. I am able to talk to my teammates and tell them where we all need to be standing and stepping. I make sure that everyone is on the same page, especially in the back line.”
Allan knows there is still work left to do.
“I need to get out with my new team and see if we can develop chemistry. It is all about chemistry with a team.”
Niagara International head coach and president André Pacheco isn’t surprised Allan caught West Liberty’s eye.
“She is a great defender. We competed in the USA at high level leagues and showcase events and she always stood out,” he said. “In the last three years, we have helped 16 Niagara region female players on both sides of the border take that next step onto college/university scholarships. Bea is tough, calm on the ball and dedicated and that has led to another success story for our club.”
Last summer, Allan trained for two weeks with professional women’s soccer team Atletico Clube de Portugal in Portugal.
“She caught the eye of professional coaches in Europe when she went on trials in Portugal,” Pacheco said. “We couldn’t be happier for her as she has worked hard for this. We wish her the best of luck on and off the field.”