Perth Glory has further strengthened its squad for the Westfield W-League 2021/22 season with over five months to go until the campaign kicks off with three more key signings over the past week.
Versatile forward Demi Koulizakis has arrived from Canberra United along with 18 year-old Young Matilda star Alana Jancevski from Melbourne Victory plus defender Deborah-Ann De La Harpe who was an impressive in a difficult 2020/21 campaign for the West Australians.
These three players follow last week’s announcement of the capture of defender Nat Tobin from Sydney FC and the return of Morgan Aquino in goal (see https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/2021/05/21/perth-glory-make-two-major-signings/ for full details)
Koulizakis’ arrival is another eye catching one. The 23-year-old has made more than 20 W-League appearances for Western Sydney Wanderers and most recently, Canberra United, with whom she spent the 2020/21 campaign.
She also boasts extensive experience of playing overseas having represented Texas Tech University in the US for four years.
After enjoying her second taste of the W-League last term, Koulizakis is keen to become a part of what she believes is an exciting project taking shape here in the West.
“I’ve known Alex Epakis (Glory Head Coach) for many years now, so I know how he is as a coach,” she said.
“I like his aspirations for the team and for the club which align with my own goals as a player and he gets the best out of me, so those were the main reasons for me wanting to sign.
“Alex’s goals are to get into the Semi-Finals and win a Championship and I would love to play a big part in that and potentially next season be in the Finals.”
Epakis, meanwhile, believes that Koulizakis has all the qualities required to be a major asset for Glory in the upcoming campaign.
“Demi is a fantastic addition to the team and the club,” he said.
“She is relatively young, but comes with vast experience across both the W-League and US College system with Texas Tech.
“Having made her W-League debut at 16, Demi has gone on to have success both locally and in America, enjoyed a strong season last year at her previous W-League club and comes to Perth looking to really establish herself as core player within our attack.
“She is a very strong and tenacious player with and without the ball and has a great ability to build up and play with her back to goal, plus strong finishing skills.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Demi in the past and I know first-hand the determination and commitment she brings to a playing group.
“She is ambitious and I am glad she has decided that Perth Glory is the best place for her to continue to grow as a player.”
Glory CEO Tony Pignata is delighted to see another high-quality new recruit coming on board.
“Demi has a lot of potential and a great working relationship with Alex and I believe we’ll see her take her game to new heights in purple next season,” he said.
“She is another key signing and I’m sure the excitement is building among our Members and fans as our 2021/22 squad continues to take shape.”
The arrival of Alana Jancevski from Melbourne Victory will mean that yet another of Australia’s youngest stars will be wearing the purple and orange next season.
Widely regarded as one of the brightest young prospects in the country, the 18-year-old is a Young Matildas representative and has come in on a long term deal.
Having opted to make the move to the West ahead of the Westfield W-League 2021/22 Season, Jancevski cannot wait to get started.
“Since I was a youngster, I’ve always wanted to play in the W-League,” she said, “and Alex Epakis (Glory Head Coach) has been amazing in helping me to get that opportunity.
“I’m excited for the challenge and to be joining an excellent group of girls who work really hard and want to be successful.
“Being a part of that will be a great opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to showing everybody how good a team we can be.
“I know that I’m going to grow as a footballer and as a person.”
Epakis, meanwhile, is confident that Jancevski has what it takes to make a major impact in purple in the coming years.
“I am really excited to have Alana at Perth Glory for the next few seasons,” he said.
“She is a very exciting player who has a lot of attacking qualities and will certainly help add some firepower to our attacking play.
“I believe Alana has the quality and confidence to really excel as a player and help the team reach new heights.
“She is a hungry and determined character with a fantastic level of confidence and professionalism about her and I am proud she has chosen Perth Glory as the best club for her development and growth.”
Glory CEO Tony Pignata believes that securing Jancevski’s services reinforces Glory’s growing reputation as the destination club for young Australian talent.
“Alex showed last season that he is committed to giving young players an opportunity at W-League level,” he said, “and Alana is another rising star that I’m sure our Members and fans will be hugely excited about seeing in Glory colours next year.
“She has huge potential and we’re confident that she will fulfil that with us in the coming seasons.”
The final part of the signing trio this week saw the news that Deborah-Anne de la Harpe has re-signed with the club for the.
The 20-year-old enjoyed an impressive debut W-League campaign last year, starting every one of Glory’s 12 games and playing a total of 1026 minutes.
Her strong defensive work, turn of pace and willingness to push forward in wide areas made her an instant hit with the club’s fans and the Junior and Young Matildas representative is relishing the prospect of rekindling that relationship next term.
“There was a core group that would come out and support us every home game,” she said.
“Obviously it was a difficult season for us with COVID and things like that, but having their support, especially in my first season, was just incredible.
“I could not have pictured a better place or team to have been a part of for my first W-League season.
“It’s such a great environment, the coaching staff are amazing and I’m elated to be back again.
“I’m just so grateful that I get to be a part of this story and I think we have something really special in this team, especially with the core group of younger players coming through.
“I’m excited about what we can achieve both in the long-term future and in the season ahead.”
Glory Head Coach Alex Epakis is confident that de la Harpe can build on her breakout performances in 2020/21 and be a key part of the squad once again.
“Having DA re-sign on again for next season is fantastic,” he said.
“She was given an opportunity last season and I believe she grew so much and showed all her football pedigree and why she has been an important player for the Australia youth teams in recent years.
“She has a fantastic attitude and mind-set towards improving and doing the best she can, has really fallen in love with the club and the city and I know first-hand that she is committed to helping achieve success with the team.
“For a young player, DA shows so much confidence and I am really looking forward to seeing her develop and find another level in her football next season.
“Her versatility and ability to play in multiple positions is a huge asset and she will be a valued player within the team next season.”
Glory CEO Tony Pignata, meanwhile, is pleased to see another quality performer being added to the club’s W-League squad.
“DA was a standout last year and retaining her services for the upcoming season is another indication of the positive direction we’re moving in,” he said.
“Alex has been extremely proactive and nimble in his efforts to mould a young, dynamic and exciting squad and de la Harpe is a player who certainly ticks all those boxes and more.”
Ben Gilby writes for Beyond90, Australia’s leading independent women’s football platform. Visit https://beyond90.com.au/