Following a breakout rookie season with the Orlando Pride, forward Rachel Hill just wanted to continue playing heading into the offseason.
Hill was loaned to Australia’s W-League side Perth Glory last October during the NWSL offseason and according to her she didn’t go in with many expectations despite finishing third as the league’s top scorer.
The second-year professional made 14 appearances and started eight games while scoring three goals with the Pride in 2017. That gradually elevated after 9 goals in 12 appearances with Perth during the 2017-18 season in Australia.
“I didn’t go in with many expectations. I didn’t know exactly what to expect,” Hill told the Orlando Soccer Journal on Monday. “I didn’t know much about it, I didn’t even know where Perth was at first. I just went in wanting to play, wanting to have fun and really enjoy my experience over there… it definitely helped me grow.”
It was in Australia where Hill played alongside Sky Blue FC star Sam Kerr, who led the NWSL in scoring last year with 17 goals, and finished as W-League 2017-18 top scorer with 13 goals.
Hill said she gained a lot of knowledge on the pitch with Kerr.
“She’s someone that just works so hard,” said Hill on Kerr. “She always enjoys what she’s doing, so just learning to enjoy every time you step out, never take it for granted. She’s always having fun, always laughing… it shows in her game. Taking that from her, obviously be serious about what you’re doing, but at the same time make sure you’re enjoying it.”
From playing alongside a world class player in Kerr, Hill is now part of a star-studded Orlando front line that includes Brazilian star Marta and United States women’s national team players Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux.
A tough lineup to break into, according to Orlando coach Tom Sermanni, but he still sees Hill playing an important role for the Pride ahead of the 2018 NWSL season.
“She started several games for us last year,” said Sermanni. “She came on in a lot of games where she didn’t start, and she’s in there first of all fighting for a starting position. But secondly, she’s such a dynamic player and such an impact player off the bench that she becomes useful as a player to come on for the last 20-30 minutes.”
“We’ve brought in a lot of new players, a lot of quality players,” said Hill. “I think just wanting the best for the team, and wherever I fit in, whatever role I’m given, that’s what I’ll take and I’ll go and do that with the best of my ability.”
The Pride opens the 2018 NWSL season on Saturday against the Utah Royals at Orlando City Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
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(Photo by Mike Gramajo / Orlando Soccer Journal)
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