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Wearing number 3 for the Newcastle Jets Women is Elizabeth (Liz) O’Reilly! Returning to the Westfield W-League after a five-year hiatus where she played football in America, Liz is glad to be back and playing in her homeland.
“It was awesome playing in America, but it’s always great to come and play at home where you are surrounded by your family and friends,” said Liz.
Born and raised in Penrith, Liz began kicking the football about at the age of four with her local team, the St Mary’s Crocodiles.
At the age of sixteen, Liz was selected for the NSW Insitute of Sport (NSWIS) and played predominately against males, which tested her speed, strength and accuracy as a player. She remained with NSWIS for two years and in her time with the academy attended many Young Matilda’s camps.
“After a few [of the Young Matildas] camps they were cutting players and unfortunately I was one of them, but getting cut from the Young Matilda’s lead me to another path,” Liz explained.
O’Reilly began her W-League career in 2008 with the Central Coast Mariners in their inaugural season alongside Jets forward Jenna Kingsley. Liz stayed on with the Mariners for the following season, however, did not resume playing in the W-League after the Mariners announced their exit from the competition. In that time Liz was offered a football scholarship at the University of Wyoming in America.
In 2010, Liz moved to America on a scholarship where she played for the University of Wyoming and undertook a Bachelor of Arts, Social Science degree.
“My time in America was unbelievable, I think by far it was one of the best experiences of my life,” O’Reilly said.
“Unfortunately the saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ is true and I did miss my family.”
“But I was able to get a fancy and expensive degree and I got treated like a professional soccer player and student.”
“It was amazing and I recommend it to anyone who is 17 and is unsure on what they want to do with their life,” she stated.
Deciding to make an official return to the Westfield W-League this year, O’Reilly trialled for the Jets and secured her contract for the 2016.17 season.
In the eyes of her coach, Craig Deans, Liz “started the season very well” especially since “she is new to the centre back position”.
“I thought it was important for Liz to play the first few games so that she could adjust to the position and to the standard of the W-League, she has a good attitude and wants to learn more,” Deans Said.
Since returning to the W-League, Liz has taken up a new position of centre-back but her willingness to learn has seen her take to this position very naturally.
With the support of her sponsor, Mayfield United Junior Soccer Football Club, Liz has been able to focus and persue her Westfield W-League career.
On the field:
Having just started in the position of centre back, Liz has impressed her coach with her ability to fill this new position as well as she has. “Although she is still developing in this position, she is a very strong one-on-one defender” – a strength of which is desired in this position and is often learnt after years of experience.
Liz is a good communicator and has shown this in the games she has played for the Newcastle Jets Women. Liz is always up for a challenge, and that trait clearly on its own will prove important to the Jets side as the season continues to get tougher.
Off the field:
Away from the field, Liz is a Vet nurse! “A vet nurse isn’t just one job; you have several jobs in one day. I could be a cleaner, nurse, dentist, radiologist, counsellor and much more in just one day!” Liz explains. When Liz isn’t at work she loves to take her “dog to the beach or taking him on adventures and looking for waterfalls.”