Phoenix overcome tough week full of positivity for Brisbane test

by Denise Duffy, Impetus New Zealand correspondent (26/1/23).

Above: Mackenzie Barry speaking to the media today. Image: Wellington Phoenix.

It’s been a big week for Wellington Phoenix. They recorded their first win of the season on Sunday afternoon against Canberra United and several in the squad battled the United States Women’s National Team not just once, but twice.

Over the last few days, they have flown back to Australia to prepare to take on Brisbane Roar on Saturday, and earlier today players Mackenzie Barry and Grace Wisnewski spoke to the media.

Barry, who played in both international matches leading up to the Canberra match game “That’s the longest week of football I’ve done since I went to a secondary school tournament.”

“Even though I only played 20 minutes each game for the Ferns, mentally it’s still draining. When you go on as a sub, your team is relying on you to lift as well. So yeah, it was a huge week.” 

On translating that experience to her A-League Womens matches, she reflected: “I think, personally, when I went into the Canberra game, and any time I was on the ball, or any tackle I made, I felt pretty confident after tackling players like Alex Morgan or Rose Lavelle.”

In comparing the speed of play from the matches against USA to that of the A-League Women, Barry said, “I think it’s very different. The ball speed with America was just so fast, outstanding. So when I got on the ball against Canberra, I definitely felt like I had more time and I felt more relaxed than when I played for the Ferns. Yes, it definitely helped me.”

The Phoenix star believes that her experience of the past week which has seen both the Ferns and Wellington benefit from large vocal support can only stand her and her teammates in good stead.

“I think hopefully this motivates the girls and makes us realize that we can do this and we’ve got all the support. And I hope that huge when just really got all the fans behind us. We need to keep going. We can’t just have this as a one-off when or like us a bit of luck or something.”

When thinking about league form with the Phoenix, the defender said: “I think there’s definitely been a shift. I think we’ve always had a really good attitude. And we’ve always believed in ourselves, but actually getting that result has given us extra motivation.”

Above: Grace Wisnewski spoke to the media today about her first experience of international football and then playing for her club the following day. Image: Wellington Phoenix.

Reflecting on her own experiences of the last week of international and club football, attacker, Grace Wisnewski reflected on how head coach Natalie Lawrence cajoled her exhausted players through.

“She was just like, do what you can obviously, it was quite a long week. So she was like, come back and give it your all. I think all the girls did that. So even the ones that weren’t at the camp, they pushed us to get through the game. It was a huge effort by everyone.”

In reference to how her experiences in the national team camp will aid her in the A-League Women Wisnewski said: “It gives you confidence, it was a good experience. And I hope that I can take that experience out for the rest of the league”

Wellington Phoenix have a big challenge in front of them on Saturday. Brisbane are seven points ahead of them and sit seventh on the ladder. They are in the hunt for the playoffs. The Nix are looking to take their courage and positivity into their next battle. Look for full coverage of the match on Impetus with a match report and reaction from Nix head coach Natalie Lawrence.

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

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