by Ben Gilby
Canberra United pair Grace Taranto and Michelle Heyman both identified to the media today how important it is for the capital city side to build on their superb win over Sydney FC prior to the international break when they take on Western Sydney Wanderers tomorrow.
With Canberra having responded to two 5-0 defeats in a row so positively, Taranto highlighted how they need to maintain that run after a fortnight without a match.
“The week off was really beneficial for us, we’re really refreshed and excited for the big game this weekend. We’re all feeling super motivated to go out on the park after the win against Sydney (last time out)…and show that we deserved the win. We worked really hard for it, but we’re now focused on this weekend, it’s going to be a big one.
“We want to make sure we prove we’re worth being up there and worth a place in the top four. Western Sydney are having a good season and they are right up there as well.”
Whilst Canberra United have had players away on international duty, Heyman outlined how those who have remained behind have benefitted from targeted coaching dedicated at individuals.
“We’ve been able to work on things we’ve needed to individually. We’re going out this weekend to prove the point. We beat Sydney, now facing Wanderers, we need to take the three points.”
Heyman has been a leading advocate of the introduction of a Pride Round for a long time, and the A-League Women’s all-time leading goalscorer underlined the importance of this weekend.
“It’s a nice place for us to be who we are and proud of the community that we represent and be the voice and play the game we love and feel comfortable.
“It’s nice for football to step up and for us to have Pride Round and Pride Cup supporting us and promote it in the right way. For myself personally, I’ve been pushing for it for a long time. Back in the day myself and Heather Reid pushed every year to represent the community we belong to. Finally, we’ve got here to be able to have the rainbow numbers on the back of my jersey, and to have my name in rainbow colours is something I’ve always wanted.”
“(Years ago), there was no response (from the league hierarchy). We got rainbow socks one round. That was the most we got. We wanted to have rainbow jerseys, but that kept getting stood down. For this round to go ahead, Heather Reid is the pioneer of this. For me to put on my jersey (on Saturday), it will be for her and everything that she has done for this club.”
Heyman spoke personally about the impact she has had as a key role model in the LGBTQIA+ community and how Pride Round can have such an impact.
“I’ve had personal experience of parents coming up to me after games and saying ‘if it wasn’t for you being out and proud, I wouldn’t be able to understand my child.’ For myself, it’s so important for parents to have other people to look upon for advice. We’re role models and we’re doing the best we can.”Michelle Heyman, Canberra United.
“The new generation of kids coming through are more comfortable with how they are. The older generation still have that stigma behind all of it. For us, it’s about being as strong and positive as we can in the community. A safe place is a better place for all of us and you can be a better footballer within your own skin.”
“It’s really important not to let this drop. It has to be year in, year out from now on.”
Taranto agreed, saying: “Pride Round is such an important event in soccer and the sporting world in general. It needs to be a place where everyone can be happy and no one imposes on that. Identity is something to be proud of and celebrated.”
Newcastle Jets today announced the signings of midfielder Emily Roach and striker Renée Pountney for the remainder of the 2022/23 season.
Roach, who plays in central midfield joins the Jets from Canberra United where she has made two appearances for the club this season.
20-year-old Roach is originally from Nambour, Queensland is eager to link up with her new squad for the rest of the current campaign.
“I’m excited to get to work here in Newcastle and further develop my game under Gary van Egmond. I’m looking forward to running out at No. 2 Sportsground with my new teammates and soak up the great atmosphere that the fans create at this ground.”
22-year-old Pountney has previously played for the Jets, making her debut in 2018. She has scored one goal in nine games which was a strike against Adelaide United in 2020. Pountney played her youth football coming through the Emerging Jets program.
The striker returns to the club after playing for Creighton University in the United States and spoke of her joy at being back at the club.
“I’m excited to be back here in Newcastle and I can’t wait to run out with the team at No. 2 Sportsground. This is home for me and I’m excited to wear the Jets badge again.”
A-League Women’s Head Coach Gary van Egmond was pleased to strengthen his squad ahead of the run in, as the Jets aim to climb away from the bottom reaches of the table.
“We’re happy to bring in a player of Renée’s quality to the side for the rest of the campaign. Renée has matured as a player since her previous stint at the Jets and we’re excited to see her link up with the team and contribute for the remainder of the season.
“Emily is a highly talented young midfielder who we believe will add a lot of quality to our squad. We are confident we can help further develop her game and we look forward to seeing her thrive at the club.”
Newcastle Jets duo Cass Davis and Georgie Worth spoke to the media this week ahead of their rematch with Western United, and revealed how things have been since the departure of head coach Ash Wilson and attacker Sarah Griffiths, writes Ben Gilby.
Speaking first, Davis said: “Changes happen in football, we’ve just got to move on. We’ve just got to stay positive and focus on what is ahead and that is winning games. Losing Sarah (Griffith) too was a pretty big loss.”
The Jets reacted well initially with a superb win on the road to league leaders Western United before having to take the trip immediately across to Western Australia to take on Perth Glory in a match that didn’t end quite so positively for Newcastle.
“The win was nice. It was a massive week for us, travelling to Ballarat and then to Perth. We travelled and were away for six nights. It was a big high to beat Western United, but then we had our heads down after losing to Perth. Hopefully, we can take all the positives into this weekend.”
“It was very hard. We had a few girls have to work while they were in the hotel between training and recovery. It shouldn’t be this way, but hopefully, generations in the future won’t have this.”Cass Davis on the reality of Newcastle Jets spending six nights away with two away games in quick succession.
Davis has a lot of respect for interim boss Gary van Egmond and believes that his ethos of hard work will reap rewards: “Gary is a tough one. We’ve been training a lot – double sessions, gym. It’s all for the benefit of us. If we train at a high intensity it should be easier in matches. It really helped against Western united. you could hear him from the sidelines the whole time. He is driving us.”
After already defeating Western United on the road recently, the Jets star identified: “They are a tough team and at the top of the ladder for a reason. We need to take the positives from the way we played them. If we can go out and execute the same game plan. The girls are pumped and ready to go.
“We want consistency and results. Being second from bottom doesn’t show what we’re capable of. We’ve leaked a lot of goals this season. There is a real big focus on defence.”
Jets goalkeeper Georgie Worth told the media how positive the time to focus on preparations and training during the international break has boosted the squad ahead of their return to A-League Women action this weekend.
“With that week we had (back-to-back matches away to Western United and Perth Glory within such a short turnaround), we didn’t really have much time for training, so it’s been good to get back on the training pitch.
“It was a big week, lots of travel, lots of games. We learned a lot, so it’s nice to be back in Newcastle. With the Perth loss (4-0), it would be easy to blame the travel, but at the end of the day, the performance wasn’t good, enough. We didn’t show up as well as we could have. It was individual performances, tactics…”
However, that period of intense travel started so positively with the Jets defeating league leaders Western United in Ballarat.
“That was a big result,” Worth admitted, “We needed it for confidence. It showed we’re a quality team and can compete against the best teams. A win and a clean sheet was massive.”
Playing the same side in such close proximity always throws up specific challenges, but the Newcastle goalkeeper believes past experience puts her side in a great position. “They (Western United) will want to win to demonstrate why they are top, but we know what we can do to beat them.”
by Denise Duffy and Ben Gilby
Wellington Phoenix spent the two-week international window honing their technical skills and getting ready for their upcoming match against Sydney FC. They are making their debut at football-friendly North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, 656km from their home in Wellington, writes Denise Duffy.
The venue is primed for women’s football as was the site of the Women’s World Cup’s play off tournament just a few days ago. It was also the place of the second Football Ferns match versus Argentina just a few days ago.
Forward Ava Pritchard spoke to the media this week ahead of the game, and emphasized just how the number of Wellington players in the national team set-up is a big benefit: “We’ve got, I don’t know, about six or seven Phoenix girls in the national team now. So it’s only inspiration for us to keep working so we can just make that number even bigger.”
And on the trip North, Pritchard revealed how she is: “Buzzing to go to Auckland. I feel like that its got such a good footballing environment up there and lots of little girls who just love playing football. It’s going to be such a good game. Playing at North Harbour, it’s such a nice stadium. Hopefully, we’ll fill it out a bit.”
Sydney FC will be a formidable opponent. They are sitting currently third in the table just one point behind Melbourne City and two points ahead of Melbourne Victory. The Phoenix though have proven that they can be a challenge to any team on any day.
“I think we can take points from every team when we turn up and play our football, we’re a very dangerous team.”
Also speaking to the media ahead of the Nix’s game with Sydney FC was Chloe Knott, writes Ben Gilby, and she began by highlighting how preparations have gone for Sunday’s match with few players remaining at the club during the international break.
“We’ve had some really good sessions and we had a day with the academy girls where they came in and we played a practice match against them. It’s been a chance to work on fitness and on individual technical stuff…we love playing matches, so it’s been catch-22, it was good to have a break, but we’re keen to get back into matches.”
With Wellington captain Lily Alfeld ruled out so far this season due to injury, it has led to increased leadership responsibilities for Knott, and the Nix star spoke candidly about the reality of the role for her.
“It’s tougher on the weeks where you are losing as you have to try and lift people, but Lily (Alfeld) is great in the background and Kate (Taylor) is really stepping up as well. It’s like a shared job. I tend to do what I normally do. I do feel I’ve learned to be more resilient and lift the team when we’ve been losing. Lily is there watching and in training too, she’s always there supporting and watching.
“I want to do whatever I can to help the team. I feel that changes every week depending on who we are playing. Adjusting my game, whether that’s playing as a six or more further forward.”
Kick-off locally is Sunday, February 26th, at 1pm. Tickets for adults are $16, with a dollar from each ticket going to the Cyclone Relief Fund. There are also family tickets for $40 dollars, which includes two adults and two children.
by Ben Gilby
Western United head coach Mark Torcaso was very clear in his discussion with the media ahead of this weekend’s rematch with Newcastle Jets: “We want to get back the three points they took off us last time. That’s the plan.”
When the two sides last met just prior to the international break, it was the Jets who raised eyebrows with a 2-0 win over United in Ballarat. Torcaso believes this time will be different.
“That was three points we lost and we just want to get things right. If we play the way we know we can, we know we can win. If we don’t and play like last time, Newcastle are a good side and they are to be respected. We want to at least get something back from this game after the last result, and to regain some momentum.
“Being in Newcastle and having the Matildas play there (this week) should create even more hype, so hopefully its exciting and more people will come out (to watch). It will be a tough game. They will come at us, and we just need to be ready for it, and I think we will this weekend.”
Torcaso’s side go into the game boosted by the news that star striker Hannah Keane has signed a new deal at the club to return for the 2023/24 season. The Western United boss is understandably delighted.
“Hannah was very important as a signing, so for her to commit to us for another season is excellent and just shows the great work we are doing as a club in the female space. To have a player like Hannah want to reconnect to us is a real credit to the club. She just wants to focus on us winning the league, and her winning the Golden Boot.”