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Harvard beckons for Murrell

New Zealand's Samantha Murrell at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. Image: FIFA via Getty Images

After taking the field in New Zealand’s only victory at last year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea, Southland’s Sammy Murrell is ready for the next chapter in her career, Harvard.

The 18-year-old will make the move to Massachusetts to attend the Ivy League university where she will receive financial aid for four years of study starting August 2017.

Although Murrell hasn’t made a final decision on her chosen major, she’s looking forward to exploring different subjects in her first year while juggling her demanding football schedule.

“The football is quite full on, they train five or six times a week and play two games a week as well, it will be full on with study as well,” she said.

“I am not sure what I will be studying, it is cool because you don’t have to pick your major until halfway through your second semester.

“I will take a big range of courses and I will see what I enjoy.”

Murrell’s international football career reached a new high last year when she represented New Zealand in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. The defender kept a clean slate in the tournament, dominating West African contenders Ghana 1-0 in her one match appearance.

“I guess I can say I have never lost a World Cup match,” she said.

“It was incredible, stepping out onto the pitch and singing the national anthem was unreal,” she added.

“Papua New Guinea is quite close to the equator, running around in the heat in New Zealand is hard enough, but it was just another level.

“It was an amazing tournament, the locals really got into it, they put locals into groups and gave them a team to support, so it was really cool.”

After a year off study to commit to the New Zealand U-20 women’s team, Murrell will study part-time at Otago University from February to get back into the student mind-set.

“If I wasn’t working I was training in Auckland, I didn’t really have a lot of time to keep the brain functioning, I am really looking forward to getting back into it,” she said.

Murrell will squeeze in a final season with her former club Roslyn-Wakari in the Football South Premier Women’s League while studying at Otago before departing for the United States later in 2017.

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