NJ/NY Gotham FC has signed midfielder Sinead Farrelly to a contract for the 2023 season with an option, the National Women’s Soccer League team announced on Saturday.

A standout in the NWSL, the University of Virginia and with the U.S. Under -17, U-20 and U-23 national teams, Farrelly is returning after nearly eight years away from the game. She attended Gotham FC training camp as a non-roster invitee.

In August and September 2021, Farrelly — along with Mana Shim and Kaiya McCullough —made some major headlines. They came forward to detail some horrific abuse against coaches Paul Riley and Richie Burke. Those reports were followed by league-wide player protests that included postponing one round of league matches and on-field shows of solidarity when play resumed.

“I’m thankful for all the support I’ve received to help me reach this point, because I could not have done this alone,” Farrelly said in a statement. “I can’t even imagine doing this with another club except Gotham FC. My teammates, the coaches and the staff are amazing. The environment has been professional and so enjoyable. I’m beyond excited for this season with this team. We have such a unified and passionate group and we’re ready to put on a show and win.

“I want to be a key player for Gotham FC, while also having grace and compassion with myself as I acclimate back into the professional environment. There were times when this did not feel possible for me. But I have made it to this moment, and I’m going to keep building on it. As I continue, I hope to inspire others to follow their dreams, no matter how far out of reach they may seem.”

Farrelly has three goals and two assists over 52 appearances in her NWSL career, playing for Kansas City in the league’s inaugural season in 2013 season and with the Portland Thorns in 2014 and 2015.

At UVA, Farrelly was twice named a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy as the nation’s top player. In her senior season, Farrelly recorded 12 goals and 7 assists in 22 games. Among several honors she received that year, Farrelly was named Atlantic Coast Conference offensive player of the year, NSCAA first team All American, and the Cavaliers’ top female athlete for the 2010-11 season. Her 90 appearances rank second in school history behind Becky Sauerbrunn.

Raised in Haverford, Pa. Farrelly was selected by the Philadelphia Independence with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 Women’s Professional.

“Sinead is not only an outstanding athlete, but one of the most admired people in our sport,” Gotham FC general manager and head of soccer operations Yael Averbuch West said in a statement. “She came into camp and earned a contract with her outstanding play. I know she sees this as just a first step, but everyone at Gotham FC is incredibly proud to be part of Sinead’s journey, and excited about all of the great qualities to brings to our team.”