Hillary Beall notched an impressive achievement last weekend, leading Western United out onto the pitch as captain in her debut in senior professional football.
The 23-year-old goalkeeper followed that with a top performance and a clean sheet, or a ‘shutout’ in her American vernacular, to help United prevail 1-0 over Melbourne Victory in the Club’s historic first ever Liberty A-League Women.
Arriving from the United States with the hope of earning minutes and experience at the top level, Beall said it was the perfect start.
“It was definitely a special moment. It was my professional debut, and to come down and have that (captaincy) as well, it’s amazing,” she said.
“I was pretty nervous but I’m happy we got the win. It was a windy game, keeping a shutout was a little more difficult than normal. It was a team effort, and it makes it extra special to start my professional career with that.”
Beall impressed the coaching staff with her leadership and impact on the group throughout pre-season and was selected as a vice-captain.
A commanding presence at the back, Beall said she was shocked when she asked to be part of the Club’s inaugural leadership group.
“I was a captain for two years in college, but when I was asked to do it here I was a little thrown off. It’s always an honour, to have it in my professional debut – I was a little shocked,” she said.
“You always have to hold yourself to a little bit of a higher standard, but to have that means what you’re doing is right, so it’s good.”
With the first match in the books, Beall said the weight of expectation and pressure has been relinquished somewhat after putting three points on the board.
This weekend brings another ‘first’ for the group with a maiden away trip, and the second furthest of the season with the journey to New Zealand to face Wellington Phoenix.
Having only just travelled to Australia for the first time, Beall will immediately experience another new country and said she and her teammates are raring to go.
“That’s the cherry on top of playing this game, being able to go to a new country and discover new things,” she said.
“I always love travelling. Away trips are the best trips, being with the girls and getting to know everyone. I’m excited, I think the girls are excited, everybody loves each other so we’re ready.”
Being in a new country in late November has meant an international Thanksgiving for Beall and her American teammates.
The entire Western United playing squad came together on Thursday night to celebrate with a team dinner as everyone chipped in, something Beall said means a lot.
“We call it a family affair at home so I’m excited to bring a little bit of American culture down here,” she said.
“It’s never easy being away for the holidays, but I’m excited. It makes it special that I hvase a group here that is willing to come over, embrace the moment and make us feel like we’re at home while we’re away for this holiday.”
Beall and her teammates will go in search of a second straight win to begin the new season, with the match against Wellington kicking off at 1pm AEDT on Saturday November 26.