[Written by Stephen Wright]
LeiLanni Nesbeth is on a quest to finish her college football career with Florida State University [FSU] by winning another NCAA Championship title.
Nesbeth, who helped FSU win the title in 2021, and her team-mates start the NCAA Tournament with a round of 64 match against Minnesota State University Moorhead tomorrow [November 10].
FSU have already claimed a fourth straight Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title and won the championship final, beating Clemson University 2-1 last weekend to clinch their place in the tournament; however, Nesbeth insists the team are hungry for more glory.
“We start the season with goals and objectives, and winning the regular season and championship final were among them,” Nesbeth told Bernews. “We’ve checked off two boxes.”
Although the Bermuda women’s national team player has not been prolific in front of goal so far this term, she said she had been pleased with her all-round contributions.
“I’ve been feeling good about my performances; I’ve done my role,” the attacking midfielder said.
“I haven’t had the success I’d have liked in scoring goals compared to last year, but I’ve had more assists, which is a positive note.
“I’m still contributing to attack, and defensively, I’ve stepped up as a leader in many ways.”
The 22-year-old, who has not featured in the Concacaf W Gold Cup qualifiers because of her college commitments, believes No-1 seeds FSU have the defensive reliance and attacking flair to win the NCAA title.
“We’re confident about our chances, but we know the NCAA Tournament is a different beast [to the ACC matches],” said Nesbeth, who starred for Bermuda at the NatWest International Island Games in Guernsey last summer.
“You either win or you go home. Teams will be coming out with a vengeance and giving it their all.
“You can’t underestimate anyone because there have been plenty of upsets in the first round with big teams getting kicked out.
“I’ve no reason to doubt we won’t be in the final on December 4. It would be great to finish off with another title.”
With Nesbeth finishing her master’s degree next month, she expects to join the professional ranks sooner rather than later and said she has offers on the table.
“I haven’t been too fixated about what’s next,” said Nesbeth, who played for Brighton & Hove Albion Women in 2018.
“I’ve been working with different people in preparation for life after college. I’m open-minded and waiting to see what opportunities arise.”