Impetus’ Ryan Miller-Woods reports on Wellington Phoenix’s media conference ahead of tomorrow’s home game with Western United (25/11/22).
Above: Wellington Phoenix head coach Natalie Lawrence. Photo: Wellington Phoenix.
In Wellington Phoenix’s opening match of the season against Melbourne City last week, arguably the most dangerous and effective player throughout was Chile international Cote Rojas who picked up one goal and two very crucial assists.
This week, Wellington will be up against a World Cup winner, the vastly experienced Jessica McDonald. Speaking to the media today, Nix head coach Natalie Lawrence outlined what she is expecting from the USWNT player.
“We know she’s going to provide a lot of class; she’s going to provide speed; she provides the experience. We’ve obviously watched the game back and she scored their goal – but she’s always going to be somebody that we have to watch out for. We’ve looked through videos of her, like recently, and whilst we know what her strengths are and we’re going to try and nullify them as much as we can, so then we can play our game.”
Reflecting more widely on the threat posed by tomorrow’s opponents, Lawrence said: “They’re good, you can tell that a lot of them (United’s players) have come from the same club, with the same coaches and then they’ve added quality in like Jess (Jessica) McDonald, like (Chloe) Logarzo and their goalkeeper (Hillary Beall, on loan from Racing Louisville for the entire A-League Women season).
“They’re going to be like a well-oiled machine and you can see that from (the way) they beat the reigning champions (Melbourne Victory) last week, so we can’t take them lightly. We’ve looked at what strengths they have and their weaknesses and that’s what we’ll try and exploit this weekend so we’re hoping for a pretty good game.”
In terms of player availability this week, Lawrence provided an update. “Still a few similar ones (from last week). So Izzy’s (Isabel Gomez) still out but progressing really well. She actually got through her first training yesterday, was looking good, so hopefully, she’ll be back soon. Wis (Grace Wisnewski) and Lily (Alfeld) are still out and so’s Rollo (Emma Rolston). So we have Mickey (Michaela) Robertson back in and in contention (to appear in the match) which is great.”
In regards to having Michaela Robertson back and available to play, the Phoenix head coach emphasised what the player will add to her side this week.
“She is just like a little whipper-snapper and adds energy because of her pace and because of how she is but just her personality too. So having her back in training and having her back into selection, having her available to play in Wellington, her home town is pretty awesome for her to hopefully make her debut this weekend.”
After being unavailable for selection last weekend due to concussion, Michaela Robertson outlined how frustrating it was to miss her side’s first-ever game at home.
“Yeah, look I had to go into that with a realistic mindset. You know, I hadn’t been training, I hadn’t been cleared but I was obviously a little bit disappointed with the timing, coming in a week late but now that I’m able to take the field, I’m stoked to be named in the squad so soon.”
Unlike anyone else that is in the squad, Robertson is the only player at the club to come from Wellington, which makes tomorrow’s opportunity to play a home game for her hometown team. It’s a culmination of a dream.
“Yeah, I think this is a moment that I’ve dreamed of my whole life, just even for a women’s (Wellington) Phoenix team, to be in the team and now having an opportunity to take to the field, I’m absolutely fizzing for it.”
Having spent last weekend’s game in the stands watching on, Lawrence outlined what she noticed in particular about her team’s efforts against Melbourne City. “Yeah, it was really positive. I think the first half we had a really good performance.
“I thought we could have been wider at times, just held our space and just been a little more patient on the attack, so that’s what we’ve been working on in training this week and just hope to create some moments up top.
“Last week there was a lot to learn from. I think we’ve worked on it a little bit this week in training. There was also a lot of positives, so we’re going to be trying to build on that this game, and yeah, I think we’re going to do really well.”