Tom Dennigan from Continental Tyres and Republic of Ireland under-19 manager Dave Connell present Erica Turner of UCD Waves with her Young Player of the Year award during the Continental Tyres Women’s National League Awards at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

The next chapter in Sallynoggin goalkeeper Erica Turner’s life begins this month when she begins a four-year scholarship at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina.

The former Rockford Manor, Blackrock pupil will begin a biology degree at the university after swapping scenic south Dublin for the American deep south.

Turner has been number one with DLR Waves, formerly UCD Waves, since making her debut as a 17-year-old in 2017 and has gone on to represent Ireland at Under-19 level.

She has captained Waves in the absence of regular skipper Catherine Cronin this season and wore the armband for her final game against Peamount United on Saturday evening.

Turner has been involved in Colin Bell’s home-based Ireland training camps alongside senior internationals Amanda Budden and Amanda McQuillan in recent months.

However, the opportunity in the United States, and the possibly of a move up to the professional NWSL league there should she continue to succeed, has proven too tempting for the 19-year-old.

“I’d never really thought about it,” Turner tells the Dublin Gazette.

“My main priority was to stay in Ireland and go to college here, but my plans didn’t work out for college here, so the opportunity came up and I took it.

“It happened last December that I was offered it. I thought about it and decided in the new year that I was going to go.”

Turner played underage football with local nursery St Joseph’s, playing with the boys’ team on Saturdays and the girls’ team on Sunday, before moving on to Cabinteely.

She spent two years at Shelbourne before joining UCD Waves in 2016 and, the under-17 National League having not yet been founded, was quickly thrust into senior football.

Education has always been her priority and while, like every other player her age, her dream is to play professionally, she was adamant she would pursue a career in science.

Turner will study biology in Charlotte where, despite only having 2,000-odd students, a tenth of UCD’s student population, the facilities are second to none.

Unlike in Ireland, college football in the States is graded based on the number of students in a college rather than the quality of the football team.

Irish internationals Megan Connolly and Megan Campbell trained at Division 1 colleges, the highest ranking in America, but Turner opted for a Division II college to further her education.

“Some of the other girls are going to D1s, but I’m going to D2 because I need to focus on my education as well as my sport.

“My degree is going to be pure biology. That was my original plan, to do science here, but with my Leaving Cert I didn’t get enough points for the course I really wanted to do.

“I visited in December and I saw all the facilities, and they’re just so good compared to anything over here.

“I’d love to work in research or in a lab – that’s the dream. I’d love to go into environmental research. But I’d always go for a career in football first.”