‘She’s got all the qualities necessary’: Jupp looks to be goal-scorer for DePaul, England
October 2, 2022
An NCAA soccer match and an English Premier League contest might look like the same game to the casual viewer. For DePaul freshman Freya Jupp, it’s fitting that the two countries call the sport a different name, as “soccer” in the U.S. is quite different from that of “football” in her home of the U.K.
Although Jupp has been a “footballer” for most of her life, moving to the U.S. and playing the game abroad has taken some adjustment.
“I feel like they’re completely different games,” Jupp said. “In England, it’s less physical, more technical with slower build-up. Here, physically, it’s so challenging. I feel like I’m running a lot more, and I’m having to use my body a lot more.”
Adapting to the physical demands of soccer in the U.S. from the U.K. is a challenge for most players, but Jupp is built for it. The 18-year-old striker is big, strong and often cited by coaches and teammates as the fastest player on the team, tools crucial for an attacker in the U.S. game.
Jupp began playing the game at six years old and soon saw herself playing on the boys’ team in Sunday leagues in her hometown of Portsmouth, England. Later, she took advantage of several opportunities to join soccer academies and garnered enough attention to be selected to England’s National Team, making her international debut at 15.
At 16, Jupp accepted an offer to join Arsenal F.C.’s U21 academy, where she then began developing her game with one of the most prominent football clubs in the world. With Arsenal, Jupp continued to do what she does best, scoring 19 goals in 18 matches.
Still, Jupp kept an eye out for opportunities to continue developing her game elsewhere while furthering her education. That’s when DePaul came calling.
“I think it was kind of fate,” said DePaul women’s soccer head coach Michele O’Brien. “[Assistant Coach] Rachel Pitman went [to scout in the U.K.] with the intention to actually watch another player and then saw Freya.”
O’Brien said Pitman quickly identified Jupp’s talent and established a relationship with the young Arsenal star. In recruitment, Pitman had the advantage of selling her own story to Jupp, as Pitman – a fellow U.K. native – also came overseas to attend and play for DePaul in 2011.
“[We] knew she would be a great, impactful player for us and made her an offer,” O’Brien said. “A couple of weeks later, she accepted.”
Sophomore Katie Godden also played a role in Jupp’s signing with DePaul. Godden is from Surrey, England, and spent time with Jupp on Arsenal’s U21 squad before becoming a Blue Demon a year prior.
“I was kind of speaking to Katie a lot… and trying to decide if I wanted to go to America or stay in England,” Jupp said. “When I spoke to the coaches, I knew [DePaul] was a good fit.”
Jupp arrived in Chicago in late July and has since spent time training to become DePaul’s next goal-scoring striker. Through her first nine games, Jupp has already made an impact, playing at least 70 minutes in six games and recording her first goal against Northwestern on Sept. 1.
Though a handful of injuries have impacted the squad, making for a disappointing first half of DePaul’s season, Jupp has impressed her coaches and teammates with her quick adjustment to the American game.
“I think the physicality is definitely something that takes a while for international players to [adapt to], but she’s adjusted perfectly.” said DePaul senior attacking midfielder Kris Boos. “It took her maybe a week in training to really get used to using her body the way Americans do.”
As an attacking midfielder, Boos’ job is to make plays by putting the ball into space for strikers to get in behind the defense and finish. Boos cultivated this kind of connection with former DePaul forward and current pro Morgan Turner. During their time together, Boos regularly set up Turner for goal-scoring opportunities. With Jupp now in the number-nine spot, Boos said the U.K. native has almost seamlessly integrated into DePaul’s offensive strategy.
“Freya is fast and makes similar runs to Morgan,” Boos said. “Preseason was really that acclimation period in building that chemistry… Once we transition into [the season], it’s been super easy for me to find her… I can put the ball out there and I just know she [will go get it].”
Even though Jupp has meshed well with teammates and DePaul’s strategies, she understands that there’s still a long way to go in developing into the level of player she wants to be. Specifically, Jupp says that she needs to improve her finishing to become a more lethal striker.
According to coach O’Brien, if she continues to stay focused and hone her skills, Jupp has the potential to be one of the league’s top scorers in years to come.
“I think she’s got all of the qualities necessary to be that now,” O’Brien said. “I think it’s her just settling in… She’s got a great mind, she’s easy to coach, and she’s got the natural talent and ability.”
On Friday, Jupp began a short leave from the DePaul squad, as she was selected to fly abroad and likely record her tenth international CAP with the England National Team in the U19 Euros. Jupp and her English teammates begin a three-game stretch in the group stage on Wednesday against Slovenia in Slovakia. Then, Jupp’s team will face off with Slovakia on Saturday before playing Denmark in their final group stage match on Tuesday.
The stint abroad is likely a welcome return to familiarity for Jupp as she will be playing the type of “football” she grew up in. Although Jupp says she hasn’t felt too homesick in Chicago, interacting with her English teammates this week might fill some of the void of the aspects of home that she admits she has missed, like cuisine.
“The food’s very different,” Jupp said. “Like with breakfast, why don’t [Americans] eat beans?”
Upon return, Jupp will once again have to adjust back to American soccer quickly, as DePaul has a handful of Big East matchups left this season. Though this season hasn’t gone the way the squad has wanted, Jupp says that there are still things to play for as long as she and her teammates put in maximum effort, a sentiment she understands this also applies to her own development.
“I think [we] just need to stay positive throughout,” Jupp said. “When you give your best… the results will come.”