In this week’s Midweek Dub, Perth Glory star Hana Lowry speaks exclusively to Ben Gilby about her experiences with the Young Matildas at the U20 World Cup, and the A-League Women campaign (31/3/23).
Above: Hana Lowry scoring for Perth Glory against Western United. Photo: Tom McCarthy.
Hana Lowry has long been seen as one of the best young players in Australia. Another impressive A-League Women campaign with her hometown club Perth Glory followed memories of a lifetime representing her country at last year’s U20 World Cup.
Before going to Costa Rica with the national team, Lowry spent a second NPLW season in New South Wales to further challenge herself both personally and from a footballing perspective. It was an environment that the Western Australian feels really benefited her.
“I stayed with the same host family again, as well as Sally (James) and Leticia (McKenna) from Melbourne City (who Lowry played with at Perth Glory in the past). The program is very professional and intense, and it helped me a lot not only for the tournaments with the Young Matildas but also for this upcoming A-League season.
“Although I didn’t play too many NPLW games due to travel, I really enjoyed my time at the Spartans, they created a great environment, and the games were at a really high level.”
Lowry’s selection for the Young Matildas squad for the U20 World Cup in Costa Rica gave her experiences that will stay with the youngster for life.
“I really enjoyed Costa Rica, it has always been my dream to play at a “World Cup since I was a kid and to be given that opportunity at a youth level was something that I will always cherish.
“For me, the best part was just being a part of such a big occasion. It’s a huge honour to wear the jersey, and I was so grateful I was able to do so in front of my family who have supported me so much. The most challenging part was probably the end of it all, it was a massive year for us, and there was a lot of preparation that went into it, so I think when it ended we were quite emotional it was all over but so grateful we were able to experience it.
“We had a great team environment, and all the girls got on so well which helped us on the pitch. It was amazing to get exposure to playing teams with different playing styles, as well as being exposed to playing multiple games in a short space and playing in front of a big crowd, particularly against Costa Rica. Off the pitch, we were able to see a bit of Costa Rica, as well as Mexico where our pre-camp was, my family also came over to watch, so it was great to see them after being away from home for six months.”
It was a tough environment and one that involved challenges in terms of playing three international matches back-to-back against some of the world’s best sides in Spain and Brazil, plus host nation Costa Rica. Despite this, Lowry feels that the squad received the right type of preparations from the Young Matildas coaching staff ahead of the competition.
“It was definitely a big step up, but something that we had prepared for throughout the year. Going into the tournament, we knew we had a tough group and knew that we had to bring intensity into the games. It was great to get the exposure of playing against different teams, teams that previous age groups haven’t been exposed to.
“Although we didn’t get the results and therefore didn’t progress through our group, we were able to match it with Spain, the eventual winners of the tournament, as well as Brazil who came third. I think it taught us that we can compete against these kinds of teams, even though we hadn’t been exposed to them previously.
With the U20 World Cup and NPLW campaigns over, Lowry returned to her hometown club Perth Glory for the A-League Women season. After narrowly missing out on Finals football in the previous campaign and keeping the vast majority of the squad together, big things were expected from the club this season. It took a while for the side to achieve the wins, as the Perth star recognised.
“I think looking back at the start of the season, there were definitely games we should have been more clinical in, games where we should have gotten three points but drew, or games where we lost but could have gotten something from. We knew that we could do better, and I think that was a positive for us. We weren’t performing at our best, and so we knew that if we were at our best, the results would start coming.”
Glory also suffered the massive setback of then top scorer Rylee Baisden suffering an ACL injury – something that put their season at a major crossroads. Subsequently, the reaction to the loss of their top scorer showed huge resilience.
“As a team, we have definitely become used to having setbacks and having to show resilience when everything is against us,” Lowry said. “Rylee’s injury was definitely a massive setback for us, not just her energy and talent on the pitch, but also her character off the pitch.
“Players have definitely stepped up, both performing on the pitch, but also in their character and leadership off the pitch. I think Sofia (Sakalis) has been doing unbelievably well this season, she is a very special player and her dribbling and ability to create chances is something that has really benefitted us this year.
“Other players like Alana (Jancevski), Susan (Phonsongkham), and Hannah (Blake) have also helped us massively, they have won us games when we needed points and always bring the energy we need in games.”
Asked as to the elements that were crucial in the club’s unbeaten run through January and February that put Perth in Finals contention, the 19-year-old said: “I think as the season has progressed, we have improved on putting in 90-minute performances, where we don’t lose concentration in small moments, and I think we have improved on creating more chances and being more clinical.”
Perth’s unbeaten run came to an end at struggling Adelaide United. This combined with a tough schedule to the end of the season that saw only one home game and a spell of three games in three different states in six days has tested the Western Australians to the limit.
“I think as a group we have always done well when put in difficult situations, and for the remainder of the season having multiple games in a short space is definitely going to be challenging, but something we will embrace and give everything to give us the best chance of making Finals. We will need to be at our best each game, will need to recover well, and stay mentally in a good place.”
As the season moves ever closer to its climax, Lowry reflected on her personal development in the A-League Women.
“I think I have developed well this season. This is my fourth season now with Glory, so even though I’m still quite young, I wanted to use my experience from previous seasons and what I’ve learned, to have a bigger impact on the team and results.
“I think physically I’m improving and understanding my role tactically better, but I definitely feel like there is so much more for me to learn and improve on, and I want to keep working towards scoring more goals and performing better under game pressure.”
Once her duties with her hometown club are over for another season, Lowry confirmed she is heading back to the east coast for the NPLW campaign.
“I will be heading back over to Sydney after the season, I haven’t thought about NPL and clubs too much as my focus at the moment is with Glory, and finishing the season as best as we can.”