January 10, 2019 9:51:26 AM
Mallory Eubanks knows the emotions and feelings Carly Mauldin is experiencing today.
A year ago, Eubanks was coming off a strong senior season with the Mississippi State women's soccer team and looking forward to the possibility of being selected in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) draft.
A year later, coming off a season in which she played in 12 games (five starts), Eubanks is getting ready for her second season as a professional. She hopes Mauldin will earn a shot to make a NWSL roster at 11 a.m. Thursday when the NWSL holds its four-round draft. The Chicago Red Stars have the No. 1 pick in the draft, which will select 36 players.
"I think Carly wants to play, and I loved playing with her and my time at State with her," Eubanks said. "Anything can happen because you never know to expect in this league. I definitely think this is a really exciting time for her and that she is going to have a lot of fun with it if she gets drafted or she goes somewhere. I think she will enjoy it a lot and that it will be a really good experience for her."
Mauldin, a 5-foot-5 midfielder from Laurel, earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors after a 2018 campaign that saw her finish fourth on the team in minutes (1,568). She had four goals and one assist (nine points) to help lead MSU (9-7-2) to its first appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Last season, the Washington Spirit used the 16th overall pick to select Eubanks in the second round. Eubanks joined Elisabeth Sullivan (Portland Thorns FC, 2014) as the only MSU players selected in the NWSL draft. Sullivan was the 31st overall pick in the fourth round.
Eubanks said the NWSL met some of the expectations she had for it before she joined the league. She said the speed of play in the NWSL and the number of players who played quickly and used little touches were the biggest differences she experienced after playing in the SEC, which she said was more physical. She said she gained confidence playing against some of the best players in the world and realized she belonged.
Eubanks said she has been working hard to prepare herself for the upcoming season. She said she has been in St. Petersburg, Florida, training with eight to 10 other players since Jan. 3. She said she will remain there until the middle of the month before returning home to Kentucky, where she said she will continue to train. She said she envisions returning to Washington in late February or early March for the team's training camp.
Eubanks said the chance to focus on soccer has been a great opportunity that has enabled her to set a schedule and to set goals so she can knock them off one by one. She believes Mauldin will have success if she is given the same opportunity.
"Carly is a feisty player who works hard," Eubanks said. "What kind of coach wouldn't want a player like that?"
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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