Rookie McFarland Thrives at the Varsity Level

First-year soccer standout Nikki McFarland wasted no time this season, already earning herself a starting spot for the Catamounts. McFarland leads the team in points this season with one goal and one assist.

Head Coach Kristi Lefebvre described McFarland’s playing as “fast over distance, and also very quick in tight spaces with the ball at her feet.”

Opposing defenders struggle to keep a tenacious grip on her because of her unpredictable playing style.

“She is small, but extremely quick and attack-minded. She is always in the right place at the right time and scoring goals.” Lefebvre said. “It doesn’t take her long to put a defender on their heels and into the rear view mirror!”

McFarland hails from Deer Park, NY, where she earned all-conference honors in 2009 for Deer Park High School. McFarland led her high school team to the league title in 2009 and 2010, scoring 20 goals and 30 assists.

McFarland also helped her club team the Albertson Fury Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), win the Eastern New York State Cup title. The Fury was rated a “Top 25 Team” in Region I by

McFarland also played for the Eastern New York Olympic Development Program.

“Going from club soccer to college soccer was completely different,” McFarland said. “I had to make all new friends and learn how each new player plays so I can play to the best of my ability.”

“It was a pretty smooth adjustment here at UVM,” McFarland continued. “The team is so nice and welcoming and they made it so easy and fun to play with them.”

McFarland scored her first goal as a Catamount two weeks ago vs. Southern Utah at the Colorado College Invitational.

“I was lucky enough to be roommates with [Nikki] in our recent trip to Colorado and we had a great time,” senior captain Ellie Millis said. Millis and McFarland both play forward for the Cats. The meshwork between the two strikers on the field is imperative for offensive success.

“I think having a friendship off the field makes our play on the field that much better.” Millis said, “I know she will do her best to work with me and I will do the same for her.”

The women’s soccer program at UVM searchers for talented players in the recruiting process, but they also place a heavy weight character content. “We look for players who are good with the ball and love to compete, but who are good students and good people also. They have to be a good fit for UVM.”

McFarland’s positive fun-loving attitude makes her easy to get along with and a perfect fit for the women’s soccer program here at UVM.

“Nikki is not afraid to have fun on the field. She is capable of competing at a high level and putting a smile on her face at the same time, which can be difficult for some people,” Coach Lefebvre explained, “She keeps the fun in the game.”

From the beginning of the season to now, McFarland has already improved immensely. “I would say Nikki has found her role on the team,” Captain Millis said.

“For some players it takes months for them to figure out their role. However Nikki was able to figure out what the team needed, and more importantly execute it. She has become such a key player for us. She always plays at such a high level and has proven herself to the team.”

Coach Lefebvre added to Millis’s comment by saying “She seems to be more and more confident every game, and she is starting to figure out what a burden she can be for other teams.”

McFarland is changing the face of UVM’s program with her unique playing style. “We haven’t quite had a player with her speed up top before, so part of it is also the rest of the team learning to play with her which is also improving from game to game.” Lefebvre said.

Through all he praise and recognition, McFarland stays humble and continues to strive toward excellence.

“I think I’ve had a lot of success offensively because there are so many talented players who can give me a really good ball that I can work with.”

McFarland is just getting warmed up for the Catamounts and she remains hungry for the net. “My favorite part about the game is scoring but I love to beat players down the sideline and give a nice cross in the air that somebody one-time finishes.”

In six games McFarland’s stats read 0.60 points for game average, 0.20 for assists and goals per game and 0.40 for shots per game.

This won’t be the last we hear of this promising rookie who steps back on the field tonight Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. in Loudonville, NY vs. Siena College.