Box Hill United U/19 women’s goalkeeper Gabriella Eggleton made her senior debut in the league and the Cup across successive matches, and the youngster has spoken about a “nervous” but “special” occasion.
Following senior goalkeeper Bethany Mason-Jones’ unfortunate injury against Bulleen Lions earlier last week, 17-year-old Eggleton was promoted to take the former’s place between the posts. Making her debut at Wembley Park in the Nike FC Cup Round 4 against her former side Alamein, the occasion could not have been bigger for the talented shot-stopper.
While in the Alamein goal was posted ex-Australian international Melissa Barbieri, and with Eggleton’s parents watching on from the stands, the Box Hill goalkeeper made three crucial saves last Thursday in a 2-0 extra-time win for her side.
Looking back at the Alamein match-up, Eggleton said, “I played at Alamein last year. So, it was special to win. It is always funny when you win against your old team.
“It’s good to have other goalkeepers [like Barbieri] around that you look up to, and it was [good] shaking hands with the people that you look up to. It made [the evening] extra special.
“At first I was a bit nervous. When the first whistle blew, I was a bit shaky. But I changed my mindset to use it and try my best.”
While the outing against Geelong Galaxy United in the NPLW on Sunday resulted in a 3-1 loss at Kardinia Park despite Box Hill creating a host of chances, Eggleton was impressive once more.
Giving her verdict on the Geelong match, the young gun said, “We were on a high coming from the Alamein game. We were switched on right from the start versus Alamein, because we knew it was a tough opponent coming into it.
“Against Geelong, mainly we weren’t switched on right from the start. But sometimes that happens, and we have to learn from it and make sure we are ready for the next game.”
For the former Ringwood FC youth player, the motivation could not have come better before her big debut. Revealing what senior women’s tutor Brian Roberts and goalkeeper Mason-Jones said to her, Eggleton said, “He (head coach Roberts) said to me to have confidence in myself, and that it’s an opportunity. It’s a good chance to show myself what I am capable of.
“[While] she (Mason-Jones) said to have fun, which is a big part of it – to enjoy the game – because that’s what it’s about; but to be confident [as well] and not overthink it.”
For now, Eggleton is happy to bide her time through this transition period to the senior set-up in her very first season at Box Hill, and added, “It’s a much faster speed in the seniors, and a higher intensity.
“As the games go on, and through more experience, I’ll be more adapted to that change. I have learnt a lot in the past two games, just switching on for every second of the game.”