Rising star Zoe Wilson excited with her chance in US
Zoe Wilson has become the latest Ireland hockey player to take up the offer of a scholarship in the United States as the Randalstown midfielder prepares to head for Syracuse University in New York state in the autumn.
The 18-year-old has already impressed national senior coach Darren Smith, who drafted her into his extended panel over a year ago although she has yet to make her debut at that level.
She is regarded as one of the most exciting talents in the country, having already played for Ireland's Under-21s and she will captain the U-18 squad that will be competing in the EuroHockey Trophy tournament in Italy next month.
As a 14-year-old she scored the winning goal for Ballyclare High School in the 2012 Belfast Telegraph Senior Cup final.
Wilson travelled over to New York earlier this year to see what was on offer and she was clearly impressed by the facilities and the level of coaching.
"I chose Syracuse for the combination of excellent academics and first-class hockey and the moment I stepped onto the campus and met the coaches and team, I knew it was the right fit," she said.
Syracuse head coach Ange Bradley is delighted to have signed the teenager, who will have some Irish company on and off the pitch in the shape of U-21 international colleague Emma Russell, who is originally from Dublin.
"Zoe is a fantastic competitor and athlete and she is a steady midfielder with the U-18 and U-21 Irish teams so I am excited to have her join our Syracuse family," Bradley enthused.
Randalstown coach Harry McNeill is sorry to be losing Wilson, who has been a regular first-teamer since she was 15 and permitted to play senior club hockey.
"Zoe had plenty of phone calls from other clubs wanting her to join but she always remained loyal and faithful to the club," he said.
"She has always put a lot of hard work into her sport and she also did a lot of work coaching our mini-hockey section but this is a great opportunity for her and we wish her well."