Molly Allen isn’t coming home after her first year away at university in the United States. And that’s not a bad thing, at least when it comes to her soccer career.

The 18-year-old defender, coming off her freshman season at Virginia Commonwealth University, will spend the summer with the Washington Freedom of the W-League. The lure of playing at the second-highest level of professional women’s soccer in North America was too much to ignore.

“I know if I go back home it’s not going to be as competitive and I probably wouldn’t stay on track,” Allen explained. “It’s important that I push myself to another level.”

 

The Halifax native is one of Nova Scotia’s top soccer talents, having been a member of Canada’s youth teams at the under-15, -16 and -20 levels.

After heading to Virginia Commonwealth last summer, she had a successful season, making Soccer Buzz Magazine’s all-freshman team for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region.

She was teammates with Dartmouth striker Stephanie Power, a high-scoring senior, and said she had a good individual season. Learning to be more consistent and adjusting to life in the U.S. were two of her biggest challenges.

“Being away from home can be hard sometimes,” she said.

“Not knowing anyone and just having to prove yourself (on the soccer field) because you’re from Canada.”

The W-League is essentially a continuation of the NCAA season. It’s the highest level college athletes can play without forgoing their NCAA eligibility. The schedule — which gets underway this weekend and runs through the end of July — is tailored to get students back to school in August.

Allen said she hopes the W-League experience helps her build off her freshman year at VCU.

“It’s given me a lot of good exposure,” she said. “I’m pushing myself and I’m a better player because of it.”