Saturday [17 December] was a day to remember for Hermione Cull, as the 18-year-old goalkeeper made her professional debut for the London City Lionesses.
Cull, who enjoyed a productive junior career with Arsenal, was handed her first senior start by head coach Melissa Phillips and made the most of the opportunity, backstopping the Lionesses to a comeback win over Birmingham City in the Continental Cup.
‘H’ is a fantastic, young goalkeeper,” Phillips said shortly after full-time in the West Midlands. “She trains excellently… and we knew she would be ready for the moment. She looks like a top professional and has a long career ahead of her.
“She has fantastic mentorship working under [assistant/goalkeeper coach Nikita Runnacles] ‘Keats’ and Shae [Yanez], so its pleasing to see her step in and look like she’s done it for a long time. With Anna Pederson in there too, our whole goalkeeping department trains excellently and it creates such a competitive atmosphere in training.”
Sarah Ewens, who earned the player of the match award for her two-goal performance, added: “I’m so happy for her. She really deserves today and you can see the smile on her face. She’s a good kid who works really hard in training. It’s brilliant.”
Cull, who was unfortunate to concede a deflected header just before half-time, made several important saves, commanded the penalty area with confidence, and completed a silky Cruyff Turn to beat the press in the second half.
“I didn’t really have any other options,” Cull admitted in the tunnel at St. Andrew’s. “But I knew that Carly [Girasoli] or Amy [Rodgers] would be free if I beat the player… I just kept it cool and Cruyff Turned her.”
Phillips was not surprised by her debutant’s skill on the ball, as Cull has consistently demonstrated her ability to make smart plays since joining the club in the summer.
“It comes from Shae,” the American said of Cull’s ambition with the ball. “If she has the confidence to pull it off, we back her. It’s just a good learning experience on her first senior appearance. It’s fantastic to see the way she managed the game with her confidence and decision-making.
“H looked like she’s played the role for years in her senior debut. She was confident and mature in a number of key moments. It was lovely to end the year on a high and close out an incredible first half of the season.”