Epakis: We’re progressing but need to get better

Ben Gilby reports on the post-match media conferences given by Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis and Western United boss Mark Torcaso, along with Tom McCarthy‘s photo gallery from Macedonia Park (2/1/23).

Above: Sofia Sakalis is sent flying by a challenge against Western United yesterday. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis spoke of his frustration in letting a lead slip twice as his side went down 3-2 to unbeaten Western United on New Year’s Day.

“It’s disappointing not to get something at least. I thought some of our players had their best games of the season, but it’s just these moments in the contests that are hurting us, not going our way.

Above: Cyera Hintzen – who Perth Glory had coach Alex Epakis felt had one of her best games of the season yesterday. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

“Sofia Sakalis is really growing into that position out wide. Cyera Hintzen, Ella Mastrantonio put in a good shift. There were eight or nine players who really put their hand up and put in a great shift. That’s why it’s frustrating as I know they are hurting…It’s important for Hana to get that goal and get the monkey off her back. She’s been putting them away in training.”

The Glory started the season being punished for starting games slowly. Whilst that has been rectified in recent weeks, Epakis recognises that his team’s struggles in putting together 90 minute performances this season are hurting them.

“We weren’t perfect and we get punished for not being punished. We had a really good start. It creates momentum. We also want to finish well and play for 90 minutes. We are tough to break down in general play. It’s just a couple of set-piece moments and in broken play that we look a bit open. That’s a focus point for us and we will continue to develop. We are progressing as a team, but we don’t have as much to show for it as we would like.”

The Perth head coach identified the specific challenges that having a home venue that is as notorious for windy weather as Macedonia Park entails: “It’s two different playing styles. You have to have two different game plans and this is consistent. The wind plays a factor. I can’t do much about it, but we do adjust things at half time depending on whether we have the wind (in our favour).”

Above: Ella Mastrantonio (right) who won praise for her performance from Alex Epakis. Here, she tracks back against Western United’s Emma Robers. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

The defeat leaves Perth Glory third bottom in the A-League Women with a win and two draws to show for their opening seven matches – seven points outside a place in the Finals which many predicted the Western Australians to be chasing. Whilst Epakis recognises that the points tally is not what was hoped for, he is looking at bigger scene.

“We just have to look at the picture that is today and the picture that is tomorrow, not far ahead. We’re not where we want to be points-wise currently, but there is no other solution but to get better internally. The tide will turn, some of those moments will start going for us, we just have to make sure we are focussed on that.”

Torcaso on fighting back amidst the Macedonia Park “mayhem”

Above: Western United goalkeeper Hillary Beall makes a save amidst what head coach Mark Torcaso described as the “mayhem” yesterday. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

Western United head coach Mark Torcaso spoke of his deep pride in the way his team fought back from adversity twice to gain victory at Perth Glory on New Year’s Day.

“It’s unbelievable. That game describes where we are as a team and as a club. We just fight. Each week we don’t look at anything other than the next game. We focus on each week as it comes.”

Reflecting specifically on the match which Torcaso described as “Mayhem!” he said, “We knew it was going to be a tough game, a couple of hours on a plane. They are a good side, their coach is building a team over the past few years. I didn’t think it would be that dramatic!”

Despite Perth’s difficult start to the season results-wise, the Western United boss was not surprised by the challenges that the Glory gave his team.

“We expected Perth to come at us. They have some individuals that I know well from Victoria. They are a good team. We had to be ready for whatever came. At half-time, I just said, lets just come away with a good result. It was about us fighting and staying in the game. These girls fight for each other, they dig deep.”

Above: Hannah Keane – whose importance to Western United was emphasised by Mark Torcaso after the match, shields the ball from Liz Anton yesterday. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

Torcaso was thrilled by Hannah Keane’s performance, highlighting the influence be believes she has on the team. “Hannah Keane is a special player. She has experience in Europe. I’ve known her for about eight years and I wanted to get her into this team straight away. Hannah is critical for our side. She is quick, she is powerful, and she is big. She has a fantastic shot on her. She causes defences a lot of problems. She’ll claim that last goal every day!”

Speaking once more about the balancing act involved in getting his Matildas star Chloe Logarzo game time, Torcaso revealed that whilst limiting her initial load and managing minutes is the primary concern, he also recognises that players who have started Western United’s winning start also deserve to keep their spots.

“Chloe wanted to start (on New Year’s Day), but she has a few weeks probably to go yet. She was ready today, but we are looking after her. We hadn’t lost a game going into today, so we’ve got to make sure we owe the players who are doing a job. Chloe is a fighter but she understands where she is at. She is driven about being ready for the World Cup.”

Tom McCarthy’s photo gallery from Macedonia Park:

Graphic by: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

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