Alana Jancevski: Bulleen’s Expert In The Unexpected

Impetus’ Kieran Yap speaks exclusively to Alana Jancevski who is heading into NPLW Victoria Finals action with Bulleen Lions this weekend about the club’s season, what she learned at Perth Glory last season, and how she’s looking forward to going back West (1/9/22). Photo: Gold Leaf Creative.

Above: Alert and in deadly form – Alana Jancevski. Photo: Gold Leaf Creative.

Alana Jancevski has the ball on the halfway line. She is up against the touchline on the left wing, and if you are a goalkeeper that is where you would prefer her to be.

Between the Bulleen Lions striker and the goal are four defenders. There looks to be little danger for Box Hill United, but Jancevski sees it differently.

After a short burst of pace, she curls a long ball simultaneously behind and around the centre backs. It lands perfectly into the path of Lia Privitelli who scores with a delicate chip.

The finish was brilliant, but the pass defied physics.

It was just one of four assists for Jancevski that day, and just one game in a season that has elevated her into one of the Victorian NPL’s most exciting players.

“To be a striker and not score, but get four assists is quite bizarre,” she said to Impetus

“I think it’s a proud moment of mine because it showed I can help my team in a different way. I think that’s the best one I’ve ever done,” she says of that assist.

“It’s really special, because your teammates get around you, but nothing beats a 30-yard screamer.”

Alana Jancevski is known for her prodigious and powerful left boot. It was that ability to strike a ball that delivered a stunning goal for the Junior Matildas in 2018. In her first full season in the A-League Women it took only two games for her to score for Perth Glory with a match-winning volley.

After months on the road with Alex Epakis’s impressive side, Jancevski returned to Bulleen for the NPLW season and has been crucial to their climb to a third-place finish.

Being back at home, both in Melbourne and at the Veneto Club is something that the 19-year-old has enjoyed.

“You make a big commitment to move away from home and put yourself through an enjoyable but tough season, so being around family was a major thing. Seeing friends and playing with teammates again that you’ve played with since you were younger, that has been really fun.

“Also getting to play with players like Rebekah Stott is always enjoyable, and you learn off those sorts of players, so I think those are the main things that I’ve really enjoyed about being home.”

Jancevski’s last season at Bulleen was cut short by the pandemic. Before play was suspended in 2021, she had scored eight times in 10 league games. It was more than enough to earn her a contract in the A-League Women, but it was a frustrating way to end the season.

Above: One of the most talented Australian players of her generation – Alana Jancevski. Photo: Gold Leaf Creative.

“Last year, as a group was disappointing for us. I think we were dominating last season. I was playing really well and in form, for us to not be able to finish the season off was really disappointing. I think that has fuelled us for this season.

“Yes there has been some ups and downs and some personnel changes, but the same fire and team culture is still there. We really want to push for the title this year. To make finals is an amazing achievement and as a group, we’re really proud of that. It has been a tough year as well.

“We’ve had some ups and downs. We’ve lost some players to international duty and amazing achievements like Stotty going to Brighton and Hove Albion and TJ (Vlajnic) going to Champions League and Paige (Zois) playing with the Young Matildas. To know you have those quality players in your side is exciting.

“But on the downside, it is hard when they’re not there because you have lost a lot of the senior bulk. It can be tough to play against team who have still go all their players with them. In saying that, it has allowed a lot of our young players to shine. You see players like Rosie Rodger, and Aroha Little who has been playing really well.

‘We’ve had a lot of debuts and other youngsters coming through as well which you have to look at and be proud of. That we’ve come third with sometimes four or five players missing is showing the culture and resilience that we have. It’s a major strength of ours and that culture can allow us to go all the way this year.”

Jancevski is an explosive player, but she was eased into this season by manager Caitlin Friend. Early rounds saw her come off the bench, and once she regained full match fitness it has been a near-constant series of matchday highlights.

“The slow start was a real challenge for me,” says Jancevski. “There was a game where I felt back into my mojo and that was the Nike FC Cup game against FV Emerging.

“I came on at half time and I just had this real hunger, and I felt alive in that game. To get a goal and assist in the second half to get us into extra time and win on penalties. That game was just a little spark.”

Above: Alana Jancevski in action against Finals opponents Heidelberg United earlier in the season. Photo: Gold Leaf Creative.

Jancevski has scored 11 times in all competitions for Bulleen in 2022. She has also added seven assists. It is a run of form that was helped by her time at Glory and one that she hopes to carry into the next A-League season.

“I think my confidence has been soaring and to be able to help my team score and win games is everything you want as a forward. I feel privileged to be in a team where I can do that and I think with the ALW season coming up I’m really excited to cement my spot and really show my capabilities and be able to score and assist at a higher level.”

Jancevski is ruthless in front of goal, but like the great entertainers of the game, her near misses are sometimes as spectacular as her successes. In round 11 she scored twice in a win over Bayside, but an attempt from near halfway almost caught the keeper by surprise.

Her teammates and coach give her the confidence to try the spectacular. Both at Bulleen and Perth Glory.

“It’s something that I’ve always liked. Tash Rigby refers to the pitch as my playground, that’s such an amazing compliment and I think it touches on how I like to play. I like to try little things, and shots from long range.

“I can always try to turn a game, and that’s something my teammates appreciate. Caitlin encourages me to try these things as long as there’s not a player free around or it’s the wrong decision.”

Although she has thrived back at Bulleen. Her first season at Perth Glory was something she embraced. Jancevski feels that she came back to the NPLW as an improved player.

“It surpassed my expectations. My first season at Glory is something that I’ll never forget. The main takeaways were the friendships and the family culture that I had with the Perth girls, the staff, and everyone there.

Above: Alana Jancevski celebrates after scoring her late goal for Perth Glory at Brisbane Roar in the opening weeks of the last A-League Women season. Photo: Perth Glory.

“What we have is truly special and from that to come from one season. I can’t wait to be there again this season and build on that. On a personal note, my favourite moments would have to be my debut game and my first goal in the second game.

“That debut game was just something really special. To play in front of a packed small ground, the way we won. And to play at the Macedonian complex was really special as well.

“Getting my first goal was something I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid. As a forward you want to score and being able to get the game-winner in the 86th minute and the way we did it away from home is something I’ll always cherish.

“The experiences I got from the A-League Women environment was something that has elevated my game to a whole new level. Being around more senior players, professional players, you know what’s expected of you. At Bulleen this year I’ve tried to use my experiences to help everyone out. I love to help in any way possible.

“The better players you’re around and play with, you’re going to elevate to higher levels. I’m always playing with confidence, and I really have backed my abilities this season. I think that’s showing in my performances.”

Alana Jancevski has come a long way in a very short time. It was many years ago that she was using that deadly left foot to boot a ball around the house with her brother, to the detriment of the household’s doorframes and vases.

Now she is one of the A-League’s rising stars and may be the key to Bulleen’s chances against Heidelberg United.

Bulleen Lions have a number of potential game changers, Lia Privitelli has been in fine form, and Aroha Little scored one of the goals of the season. Paige Zois is capable of moments of magic, and Jancevski has the ability to score at any moment, from almost any angle or distance.

Heidelberg has a strong record against Bulleen so far, with three wins from as many meetings this season. But Jancevski is not perturbed by this, she was among the best afield in the Round 21 clash and netted a penalty in confident style.

“We might have lost the last three against them, but the fourth game is the one that’s going to count,” she says.

“Who doesn’t love to be an underdog going into a game? As a team we’re ready to go.”

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