Annie Ulliac grew up playing soccer in Edmonton, but it was an opportunity to play full time for the Red Deer Renegades in the Alberta Major Soccer League that brought her to Red Deer for a summer.
Ulliac was looking for a place to grow as a goaltender as she prepared to attend university in the United States and the Renegades were the perfect fit.
“I started playing competitive soccer in Grade 11 and received an offer to go to an American university but I knew I needed to get more playing experience before I went,” she said. “There didn’t seem to be any offers in Edmonton so I contacted Paul (Morigeau) about playing in Red Deer and it worked out well.”
Ulliac spent last summer with the Renegades and while they didn’t have a great season it was more than what she wanted.
“They’re trying to build a good program and getting a chance to play regularly and getting a lot of work helped me a lot.”
Ulliac, who has always played in goal, started playing the sport when she was four.
“I played community soccer and while it wasn’t the best we still took it seriously and I got a lot of chance to play.”
Prior to Grade 11 she played at a lower division with the Edmonton Raiders, but in Grade 11 she joined Edmonton Victoria, one of the elite programs in the country.
“They have two teams and I played with their second team indoor and outdoor,” she said. “I also played U18 and trained with their top team.”
Ulliac started looking at joining an American university two years ago and received an offer on Nov. 1, 2014.
“I visited different schools in October before committing.”
She committed to Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., which is located on Long Island.
Ulliac started in goal and led the team to a 14-2-2 record and first place in their conference for the first time.
“We also defeated our arch-rivals (St. Rose College) for the first time since 1998, so it was a good year,” she said with a laugh. “But it went well for the team and myself. I can’t complain.”
Adelphi is a Division II school, but a good program, advancing into the third round of the NCAA playoffs.
“One of the reasons I went there was because of coaching,” she said. “They had a good coach, who moved on to the MLS before the season, but the new coaches were outstanding.
“As well they said I’d get a chance to play, which I need as I continue to develop. I would like to continue on after I finish at school and to do so I need to get the playing time.”
The 18-year-old won’t be returning to Red Deer this summer as she signed to play with the New England Mutiny in the newly former United Women’s Soccer League.
“It’s an amateur program and a good one,” said Ulliac. “Former national team goalie, Stephanie Labbee, played there so it’s kind of exciting following in her footsteps.”
Ulliac likes the way Labbee and present national team keeper Erin McLeod, play the game. She watches them play as much as possible.
“It’s a chance to see their strengths and how they handle different situations. I certainly can learn from them.”
Ulliac, who is taking exercise science in school, will join the Mutiny when she can prior to the end of the school year on May 19, but doesn’t expect to start this season.
“I expect to be a backup and then get a chance to play in my second season,” she said.
As she continues to grow as a player and gain exposure, Ulliac, who had a sparkling 0.80 goals-against-average in the playoffs with Adelphi, hopes to catch the eye of the Canadian national team.
“I definitely hope to get a chance to play with the national team at the U20 level and eventually the senior team,” she said. “I would also like to play professional soccer.”
They have several good pro leagues in Europe, Australia and the National Women’s Soccer League in the U.S.