Mackenzie Hawkesby: Hard work brings success

In this week’s Midweek Dub feature, Sydney FC star Mackenzie Hawkesby speaks to us about how the team can overcome two successive Grand Final defeats and the potential for further international opportunities (25/1/23).

by Kris Goman

Above: Mackenzie Hawkesby in action for Sydney FC this season. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

Tomorrow sees Sydney FC match up against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park in Melbourne. Punters will be battling with tennis crowds for parking to watch the battle for third place on this public holiday.

Both teams are level on 18 points and a win for either team would see them stand alone in third, although Sydney have two games in hand. The Harbour City side’s six-game winning streak was abruptly halted by Western United over two weeks ago and their scheduled home game with Perth Glory last weekend was postponed due to pitch problems.

As they strive to regain that winning feeling, all eyes will be on Mackenzie Hawkesby. She’s played every match of her professional football career for Sydney FC and every game under Ante Juric’s tutelage. She’s one of only five players to start every match last season and scored five goals and made eight assists in the process.  

Hawkesby also won the coveted Player of the Season award last year and was the highest-priced player in the A-League Fantasy Football competition. This season she has created more than twice as many scoring chances from set plays as any other player, justifying her Fantasy League price.

Above: Mackenzie Hawkesby in reflective mood. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

Impetus caught up with Hawkesby and discussed the success of last season and the strong start and progress this season. Assessing the positives of 2021/22, the Wollongong native agreed that, ”Last year was an amazing year for our team and personally for me there are so many positives that I have taken from last season. The key one for me is that I feel a lot more confident coming off a strong season last year and I am trying to take that into my current season.”

Reflecting on her five goals and eight assists from last season, she said: ”Last year was huge for me I was very happy with how I was able to contribute to the team.” In terms of a barometer for success or further improvement this season, she replied that “Stats wise I was really happy last season and this season I am just trying to do my role as well as I can, and hopefully the stats come with that.”

With two goals and three assists to date this season, she’s well on the way to matching last season’s achievements.

On the back of a premiership-winning season and being runner-up in the Championship, we were keen to understand what was the biggest challenge faced last season, both from a personal and team perspective. “As a team, continuing to perform and win is always a challenge but we managed to handle that super well and back up our performances. Personally, I just wanted to keep performing and help the team and stay at my best so I think that is always challenging.”

It was disappointing for Sydney FC to once more win the Premier’s Plate last season and get beaten in the Grand Final by Melbourne Victory. Sydney beat Victory 2-0 in the second round this season and tomorrow’s match represents another chance to seek revenge for those two consecutive Grand Final defeats.

Hawkesby believes that her side are well placed to go one better this season as long as they “continue…to stick to our principles and stay disciplined and take each game as it comes. As a squad, we have such an amazing culture and identity and we know that hard work pays off so we just need to keep working hard and build every game so that come the end of the season we are ready to go.”

Above: Mackenzie Hawkesby (left) looks to close down Alex Chidiac (centre) in this season’s previous Big Blue against Melbourne Victory. Both players are battling for a place in Australia’s World Cup squad. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

When quizzed on her personal and team goals between now and the end of August 2023, she replied, “Personally I want to win the double – both premiership and Grand Final, and just contribute to the team as best as I can.” This rather modest reply seems to ignore the upcoming World Cup.

This time last year, Hawkesby was called up to the Matildas squad to play Spain and Portugal in Europe. While she didn’t get a cap then, with Tony Gustavsson now based in Australia and attending many Liberty A-League games, she must be on the radar once more based on her performances this season.

The Sydney attacker believes that she remains in contention for the national squad, saying: “I think just playing well in club land will give anyone a good chance of getting in contention for calls up.”

Hawkesby is certainly playing well, and with many players just starting back at their European clubs after the Christmas break, it’s not clear if all the overseas-based players will come out for the Cup of Nations next month, which could potentially open the door to locally based players. The midfield is hotly contested and Katrina Gorry is an obvious choice but the battle tomorrow between Chidiac and Hawkesby could be telling.

If you’re in Melbourne, the match is a double header Big Blue at AAMI Park with the women kicking off at 4.05pm AEDT on Thursday 26th January 2023. It is also broadcast live on Paramount+ and 10Play in Australia. Tickets are still on sale and can be bought if you Click Here

A-League Women News

Ryan Miller-Woods reports on Melbourne Victory and Canberra United’s media conferences, plus news from Sydney FC about an exciting opportunity for girls in New South Wales later this year (25/1/23).

Above: Melbourne Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins speaking to the media. Image: Melbourne Victory.

Ahead of his side’s match tomorrow against Sydney FC in the ‘Big Blue’, Melbourne Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins told the media that he believes that Alex Chidiac needs more protection from referees.

Chidiac is the most fouled player in the A-League Women this season, and on being asked whether she is getting enough protection (from referees), Hopkins said: “Definitely not, no. Some weeks she is, other weeks she isn’t.

“I just hope that we get a strong enough referee… if they step over the mark, they (need to) get punished for it.”

Tomorrow’s match against Sydney FC could be very crucial towards either side’s season, and Hopkins was asked about what the mood in the team is like ahead of such a big occasion.

“These are the games that as a footballer you want to play and you’re disappointed when you don’t get to play and I can sense the excitement, there is a real buzz around the players, it’s a doubleheader, AAMI Park. Big, big day, I think by the end of our game we could have a fair ole’ crowd in there getting behind us.

“Obviously as well, it’s us versus Sydney and there’s a lot of feeling between us, and this team, not kind of shying away from that. We’re still a little bit sore about the first game (against Sydney this season in Round 2) up in Sydney and we’re just hoping to put things right.”

In being asked about his thoughts on the current form of Sydney FC, Hopkins said: “I think (in) their last game (they) were beaten at Western (United) but they’ve been as usual very consistent. It’s quite clear where their strengths are, similar to last year, they’re a very similar team doing similar things and doing it really well.

Canberra United

Above: Canberra United’s Kennedy Faulknor speaking to the media today. Image: Canberra United.

Canberra United will be going into their upcoming match on Saturday against top-of-ladder Western United with a significant point to prove after their 5-0 defeat at Wellington Phoenix last Sunday.

United’s Kennedy Faulknor, who made her return from injury in the match reflected on the causes of the heavy loss when see spoke to the media today saying: “I think Wellington just showed up on the day and they were hungry for their first win and I think simply we got outplayed but a lot to grow from.

“Hopefully, we’re better this week against (Western) United ’cause that’s going to be another big game for us.”

Canberra’s opponents Western United have been arguably the best team so far this season with eight wins and just one defeat in nine matches with the side looking strong all-round, especially with team cohesion. However, Mark Torcaso’s side go into the game without Jessica McDonald who has returned to the USA.

In terms of what she expects from their opponents this weekend, Faulknor said: “I’m expecting them to be a good team. I know they have a lot of good players, they’ve done well throughout their season, it’s going to be a tough game so we just have to show up and prove to everyone that we are good in this league, so I think we’ll do that and put up a fight.”

Above: Holly Murray Image: Canberra United

Canberra United defender Holly Murray told the media today that she backs her team to hit back from last weekend’s disappointing result in Wellington when they return to action against leaders Western United.

“It was a tough game…Wellington came out stronger and we’ve got to have those losses to really appreciate our wins and just work really hard this week and come out stronger next week.”

On whether the match against Wellington has made both Murray and Canberra hungrier for the match against the ladder leaders Western United, she said: “Definitely! We’ve never played Western (United) before and they’re a new team, they’re doing really well so this week it’s just focusing on ourselves. I think it has made us more hungry but we’ll just see what happens.”

For Murray, this season has been both her first in the A-League Women and for Canberra United after coming from NPLW Victoria side South Melbourne. Having made three appearances from the bench so far for the capital city side, Murray reviewed her debut season to date by saying: “It’s been really cool!

“Just getting any bit of experience is a really nice feeling. If I get 10 minutes or five minutes just anything, it’s really helping me get experience, and playing near players like Brushy (Ellie Brush) and Michelle (Heyman) definitely shows how crazy it is and I’m really enjoying it.”

Sydney FC Announce Junior Girls Festival

Above: Sydney FC’s Australian international Cortnee Vine at the club’s holiday clinic. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Sydney FC.

Sydney FC will celebrate the arrival of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia by hosting an exclusive Female Football Festival for junior girls in New South Wales.

The inaugural event is one of the first of its kind and will take place in the April/Easter school holidays and be open to junior girls teams from all over New South Wales.

Girls teams of all ages and abilities from under eight to under 15 are invited to enter the tournament which will be hosted in Kiama and enjoy a two-day seven-a-side festival away from home.

Sydney FC’s Matildas’ stars Cortnee Vine and Mackenzie Hawkesby believe it is a fantastic way for young girls to get involved and celebrate the upcoming World Cup in Australia.

“It’s a really great opportunity for young girls to enjoy playing football socialize, and enjoy spending time together as a team,” said Vine.

“Women’s and girl’s football is growing on a huge scale and this will only encourage more participation and more young girls to get involved and have fun playing ahead of the World Cup.”

Sydney FC players will also be on hand at the tournament to give their support and encouragement.

Above: Youngsters meet their hero Cortnee Vine at a Sydney FC holiday clinic. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Sydney FC.

“There were no opportunities like this for me when I was growing up as a young girl playing football, whereas there were always festivals for boys,” said Hawkesby.

“This is a really exciting development for girls of all ages and skill levels and I’m sure those who come during the holidays will love every minute of it.”

The 7-a-side competition will be held at Kiama Sporting Complex over two days (13th-14th April) with teams playing a minimum of six games, in a round-robin format. Each team will need a minimum of eight and a maximum of 12 players in their squad.

Participants will receive a Sydney FC boot bag, posters, an A-League Women’s Liberty Season Pass for Season 2023/24, trophies for the winning teams, plus other giveaways.

Clubs are encouraged to register and plan their trip to Kiama as early as possible.

For more information click here

Ellie Carpenter EXCLUSIVE!

Impetus Jean-Pierre Thiesset, who holds accreditation with European Champions Olympique Lyonnais for us and produces our weekly round-up of French women’s football action, was present at the club’s training session today and brings exciting news and photos on Australian international Ellie Carpenter‘s recovery from an ACL injury (25/1/23).

Jean-Pierre Thiesset was at the Groupama Training Centre for Impetus today and captured a photo gallery as Ellie Carpenter stepped up training. Carpenter, who suffered an ACL injury in the 2022 Champions League Final for Olympique Lyonnais against Barcelona, told him she “may” play some part in Lyon’s French Cup game against Montpellier on Saturday.

Further photos from Ellie Carpenter in training today from Jean-Pierre Thiesset for Impetus:

Jean-Pierre Thiesset’s weekly View From France article rounds up all the D1 Arkema action, including exclusive pitchside photography from Olympique Lyonnais matches. Don’t miss it every Monday on Impetus. The most recent article from this week can be read here:

A guide to how to be a fan when your team isn’t winning

Denise Duffy is a big fan of Wellington Phoenix in the A-League Women. It’s been a challenging time for all sorts of reasons since the ‘Nix’ entered the competition at the start of the 2021/22 season. Here she offers advice to fellow fans on what to do when your team is finding life tough (24/1/23).

Above: All together supporting the Phoenix – (left to right) Holly Eades, Jessie Prendergras, Denise Duffy, Rachel Heron, Melissa Cameran, and Lala. Photo via: Denise Duffy.

The Wellington Phoenix women are 3W-18L-2D since their inception. Being a supporter of any team is not always rainbows and chocolates. There will be frustration. That’s a part of being a fan of sports. However when the wins are scarce, here are a few thoughts on riding it out.

  1. Make friends with other fans. The best part of women’s sports is the people you meet along the way. Watch the matches together. Have some fun with it regardless of the outcome.
  2. Show up! Continue going to matches. Yes, winning is more fun to be a part of, however, these things can be cyclical. Being a fan before a team it starts winning makes the good times even sweeter.
  3. Be encouraging. Losing repeatedly is hard on a player’s mental health. Send them positive notes. Notice when they make progress. Say good things out loud or on social media.
  4. Be constructive. Engage with other fans on the subject of how to get their first win of the season. Don’t be a jerk when times are tough and make degrading comments. When Ella Mastrantonio got a horrible comment in her DM she was brave enough to call it out publicly. How many women on teams particularly with losing records have endured these types of terrible comments?
  5. Keep in mind that these are human beings. Friends, relatives, and even the athlete’s parents will be reading your comments about their daughters. How would you feel if you were them?
  6. These are not people who are not getting paid much money. These A-League women are making on average about 16k. The men are making approximately 9.4 times this. Female athletes don’t have teams of people protecting their brand and sanity. They are not rolling in the dough either. Be a decent human being and keep perspective on this.
  7. Calling for anyone’s job mid-season is not the way to go. Coaches and GM’s are professionals. They work their tails off. Unless they are abusive to the players, back off and let them do their job. They have already created immense pressure for themselves.
  8. Support sponsors. These companies have committed to this team. Use your spending power to do the same.
  9. The athletes are putting their best product on the pitch. They are literally chasing a ball every week for our entertainment. No one hurts as much as them during a losing streak. Find some poetry about their journey. In case you didn’t know this, that comment you make out of selfish frustration says more about you than them. Pause before you write it.
Above: (left to right) Denise Duffy, Jonathan Hagger, Blake Forbes-Gentle with Wellington Phoenix CEO David Dome. Photo: Denise Duffy.

In terms of being a fan of the Wellington Phoenix women, it’s actually quite fun. They have a courageous brand of football and are a young and exciting squad. They have been improving every week and are playing their hearts out. They are suffering from an ALeague rule specific to them that has made it prohibitive for their team to roster players from abroad, a subject for another article. Cheering them on is easy. In fact, this past weekend they won!

Finally, here’s my advice. Don’t be that person. Enjoy the season. These athletes are amazing human beings who have been training relentlessly. They are representing our nation, our league, and themselves worthy of our attention and our applause. Any thoughts or ideas on this subject? Let me know.

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

Strong start from Aberystwyth but Cardiff City hit back

Aberystwyth Town 1-5 Cardiff City

by Carrie Dunn (24/1/23).

Above: Gwen Jones celebrates after putting Aberystwyth Town ahead against Cardiff City. Photo: Ika Bajus.

Aberystwyth Town put up a valiant fight against league leaders Cardiff City, despite a string of mid-match injuries and an early red card – but ultimately fell to a 5-1 defeat.

Rhianne Oakley, Ffion Price, Phoebie Poole, and two for Siobhan Walsh secured the three points for the visitors.

Aber had taken an early lead when Gwenllian Jones scored an exceptional goal direct from a corner, crashing it off the top of the crossbar and past Emily Roberts in the Cardiff goal.

But it was all downhill from there for the Seasiders. Centre half Elin Jones had been forced off after just 15 minutes having suffered a leg injury. Substitute Kel Thomas slotted into the defence – but it was she who slid into a challenge shortly before half-time and got a red card for her troubles.

Above: Aberystwyth Town’s afternoon takes a turn for the worse as Kel Thomas is sent off. Photo: Ika Bajus.

It made the second half all the more difficult for Aber, who were racking up the walking wounded by full-time, most notably with Shauna Chambers receiving treatment on the field for an ankle injury but limping through until the final whistle.

“It was a tough result to take in the end, really, especially after such a positive first-half performance,” said the day’s captain Rebecca Mathias. “I thought we started off really well and were on top for long spells in the first half, we created quite a few good chances, and I thought they looked lost for ideas. 

“Losing Elin so early on was a huge blow for us and it’s always hard to readjust when you lose someone out of the back line. Going 1-0 up with Gwen from a cheeky corner – her speciality – I thought that was fully deserved. We kept them at bay and knew our roles and responsibilities. We looked solid defensively. 

“But going down to 10 just before half-time was another blow. You know the second half is going to be a tough one and there’s going to be a lot of running, especially with Cardiff City wanting to come back and overturn that scoreline.”

She added: “It was just one of those days, and it’s a result we’ve got to dust ourselves down from because we’ve got more important games coming up. It doesn’t get any easier but in terms of our performance, attitude, workrate, desire, I think every single one of us was spot on. I’m proud of all the girls and how they stuck together and kept going.”

Norfolk Weekly Wrap

Darrell Allen provides his weekly round-up of all the women’s football action in Norfolk (24/1/23).

Above: Norwich City’s Kathryn Stanley wins a header against AFC Wimbledon star Megan Stow. Photo: Hardy Scott Photos

The weather was the winner in Norfolk this weekend but, as usual, I round up the games that did take place on Sunday – all three of them.

FA Women’s National League Division One South East

Norwich City welcomed AFC Wimbledon to The Nest in tier four, and it was birthday girl Hannah Billingham who gave the visitors the lead just before half-time. Wimbledon must have thought they would be taking all three points back to southwest London with them but Natasha Snelling poked the ball home on 89 minutes to ensure Norwich a share of the spoils. For a full report of the game, click on George Jones’ report here:

Eastern Region Premier Division

In tier five, The Yachtswomen of Wroxham made the long trip to Bowers and Pitsea for what was a thrilling contest from start to finish.

Joe Simpson’s Wroxham side enjoyed a flying start as Hannah Waters put them in front on eleven minutes, only for joy to be short-lived as Maddie Thomas equalised for Bowers and Pitsea five minutes later. Becky Russell’s strike from distance restored Wroxham’s lead on 41 minutes and ensured the visitors held the halftime advantage.

Two goals in two second-half minutes (Millie Isherwood and Whitney Locke on 69 and 71 minutes respectively) turned the game in Bowers and Pitseas’s favour with Danielle Styles making it a two-goal lead nine minutes later. Hannah Waters’ second on 82 minutes reduced the deficit but, to cap a frantic period of play, Locke then scored again to make it 5-3 at full time to Bowers and Pitsea.

Norfolk Women’s Cup Quarter Final

Above: Chelsea Brister (blue kit) scored the third of Dussindale and Hellesdon Rovers’ goals in their 3-0 County Cup win at Long Stratton. Photo: Hardy Scott Photos.

With their main pitch at Manor Road frozen, Long Stratton went to immense effort to ensure their Norfolk Women’s Cup Quarter Final against Dussindale and Hellesdon Rovers went ahead: They hired the 3G at Easton College and held a floodlit match kicking off at 4pm.

Dussindale and Hellesdon asserted their authority on the game early and took the lead on eleven minutes through Georgina Belton – and the score stayed 1-0 until the break.

Victoria Leyer doubled the advantage on fifty minutes and Long Stratton never really looked like getting back into the contest. A six-week delay without a competitive fixture, unsurprisingly, seemed to have a negative effect on the Long Stratton team.

Chelsea Brister put the gloss on the victory when she made it 3-0 on 90 minutes to seal Dussindale and Hellesdon’s place in the Quarter Finals.

Sunday afternoon at the football in the North-East

Impetus welcomes Matt Appleby to our team of regular photographers. On Sunday, he spent the afternoon at two matches in the North-East of England and shares the best of the action with us (24/1/23).

Above: Durham (blue) and Southampton battle for possession at Maiden Castle on Sunday. Photo: Matt Appleby.

Durham 0-0 Southampton

Barclays Championship

Middlesbrough 0-2 Durham Cestria

FA Women’s National League Division One North

Middlesbrough (red) with Durham Cestria in blue.

Eastbourne Town v Horsham Sparrows photo gallery

Jon Smalldon captures the best of the action as the top two in tier eight’s Sussex County Women’s and Girls League Division One faced off on Sunday (24/1/23).

Above: Eastbourne Town (yellow) battle for possession with visitors Horsham Sparrows on Sunday. Photo: Jon Smalldon.

Eastbourne Town 2-1 Horsham Sparrows

Teams: EASTBOURNE TOWN: Bryant, Burt, Da Silva, Hemsey, Hughes, Mooney, O’Dwyer, Parfitt, Shambrook, Thornton-Barter, Watson. Substitutes: Semourson, Ward.

Scorers: Burt, Parfitt.

HORSHAM SPARROWS: Barry, Dallyn, Davies, Ekloff, Flood, Francis, French, Geraghty-Shewan, Hartley, Newby, Partridge. Substitutes: None listed.

Scorer: Francis.

Referee: Keith Cullen.

Table From: FA Full Time.

Cyera Hintzen: Loving life in Perth

Perth Glory striker Cyera Hintzen speaks exclusively to Ben Gilby about her decision to remain at the club for another year, her love for the city, and what the team need to do to make Finals (23/1/23).

Above: Cyera Hintzen battles away for Perth Glory against Western United this season. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

Cyera Hintzen has been a major part of the Perth Glory squad for the last season and a half. She’s thriving in the team’s collective atmosphere and has a deep love of the city and wider state of Western Australia.

Her physical upper body strength combined with pace and sharpness in front of goal have marked her out as a key member of Alex Epakis’ squad since she arrived ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.

Last season was a huge challenge for an overseas player. After one home game, the Western Australian border closed due to COVID restrictions, forcing the Glory to spend the campaign based in New South Wales. It brought the playing group together, but without the benefits of home fans and wider support networks, it was a tough time as the striker told me.

Above: Cyera Hintzen in action for Perth Glory last season in a “home game” played at Gosford. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

“It was a bit of a challenge because I was coming to a country that I’d never been to before and knew really nothing about, expecting to stay in one part of the country but being uprooted to staying somewhere else was a bit confusing at first.

“I was just getting settled into living in Perth and then had to readjust to a new environment. But it was a great experience to bond with the girls and I think that chemistry and the mentality to fight for each other really showed last season.”

That incredible chemistry and mentality drove Perth Glory to the brink of Finals football, failing by just goal difference from eventual champions Melbourne Victory. It was a situation that made it an easy decision for Hintzen to sign on for another year.

“I wanted to stay at the club because of the girls and what we created on and off the field last season, I was excited to build off of that. Also, being able to fully experience Perth because last year we had to go into a hub for the majority of the season in Sydney. Being based in a hotel wasn’t easy and wasn’t the ideal experience, but we made the most of it.”

After the conclusion of last year’s campaign with the Western Australians, the striker went to Scandinavia – a familiar location: “After the A-League season, I went back to Valur which was the first club I played for starting my professional career in Iceland. I played in the Icelandic League from May to October.”

Above: Cyera Hintzen gets in a shot for Perth Glory against Wellington Phoenix this season. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

With border restrictions now lifted, Hintzen was able to return to Australia and experience both Perth and the wider state of Western Australia (WA) – and she is absolutely loving it.

“It has been an amazing experience being able to finally be in WA. The beaches and coffee are great and I love how laid back it is in Perth. Everyone has a chill vibe and it’s really easygoing.”

The attacking star teamed up with fellow American offensive players Rylee Baisden and Gabriella Coleman, who she knew from her younger days. The duo are both highly rated by Hintzen, who feels Baisden’s ACL injury is a major blow to the club.

“I didn’t know Rylee before I came to Perth but it has been a great experience playing with her. Unfortunately, with her injury we won’t get that opportunity anymore which is sad because I feel like we just started to figure each other out. With Gabriella, we are both from Dallas, Texas so I kind of knew her but she was younger than me so we never got to play together before.”

After their excellent campaign last time round and an impressive recruitment campaign in close season, including having many key players tied down long-term, there were high hopes for Perth Glory this season. At the present time, the Western Australian side are finally starting to show their potential, but have only won twice to date.

Above: Cyera Hintzen jumps for joy after scoring this season at Macedonia Park. Photo: Keep Up.

Reflecting on the campaign so far, the American told me: “I think we started off a bit slow this season and are trying to figure out what the team needs from everyone to bring up our play to the level that we know we can.

“I think we have finally started to fully believe in each other and brought back that fight for each other’s mentality. We just need to put together a full 90 minutes and be more clinical when we have those opportunities in front of the goal.”

With Perth Glory currently on a three-week hiatus due to the postponement of last weekend’s game at Sydney FC and the club having the bye this coming week, it’s the perfect time to reflect on what the team need to do in the second half of the season. Hintzen said: “I think a successful season for me would just be putting my best foot forward every single day and bringing everything I can to the club to help us win.

“I think being in that conversation for finals is the goal because we were so close last year and know we are more than capable of achieving that. So just getting everyone to believe in each other and this club and showing everyone who doubts us that we can be the team to make it to finals.” 

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

A-League Women Weekly Awards

Each week during the home and away season, Impetus’ writing and photography team covering the A-League Women will nominate a player, coach, and event of the week. We’ll keep a tally of the player and coach votes as the weeks go by, and just before the Finals, will announce our winners for 2022/23 (23/1/23)

Player of the Week:

Above: Melbourne Victory’s Alex Chidiac (left) was absolutely sensational on Saturday – it is no surprise that she clocked up three votes as player of the week. Photo: Keep Up.

BEN GILBY: Absolutely no contest this week. Alex Chidiac was absolutely masterful in Melbourne Victory’s successful trip to Adelaide United. When Chidiac is in that sort of form, no one can touch her.

KIERAN YAP: Alex Chidiac. The Victory playmaker was dominant and dangerous against Adelaide United. Chidiac scored once, set up another, and tormented the Adelaide defence in a virtuoso second half. 

DENISE DUFFY: Betsy Hassett of Wellington Phoenix. International duty against the USA seemed to sharpen and invigorate her. It was smart to move her up the pitch to the number 10 role where she could use her intensity and experience to focus on playmaking and scoring goals.

RYAN MILLER-WOODS: Milly Clegg. Despite being only 17 years of age, the way she played against Canberra was that of a player well beyond her years as she scored the opening goal of the match (which was also her very first goal in the A-League Women) as well as playing a major part in the second goal for her side.

BEN CAREY: Alex Chidiac. Her energy and intent against Adelaide was next level. It resulted in a goal, an assist, and the creation of several more chances. She also did some good defending, making several recoveries, and even blocking a shot from going in. She was a huge part of how Victory was able to complete the comeback.

Coach of the Week:

Above: Wellington Phoenix head coach Natalie Lawrence – our unanimous choice of coach of the week. Photo: John Davidson.

BEN GILBY: Natalie Lawrence. It’s been a tough season for the Phoenix, who had failed to build on the promise of last season despite, on paper having a more experienced squad this time. Throw in the fact that several of her team played an international match against the USA less than 24 hours before Sunday’s game against Canberra United and it makes the performance and result even more incredible. It’s a performance that they’ve been capable of all season. Now they need to use this as a launch pad, as the talent and promise is there.

KIERAN YAP: Natalie Lawrence. 5-0 against a usually free-scoring opponent, with key players having played just 20 hours before, in an international game against the reigning world champions. Incredible.

DENISE DUFFY: Natalie Lawrence of Wellington Phoenix. Guiding and steering a group of athletes when the wins are not coming must be draining. Lawrence consistently prepared her team each week and the fans saw improvements. The match against Canberra United was their moment to pounce. The game plan was aggressive. They connected passes across lines and they played fluid and exciting football. 

RYAN MILLER-WOODS: Natalie Lawrence. In her very first season as Wellington’s head coach, it hasn’t by any means been easy for her with results not going her side’s way and just one point in the season before the match against Canberra United. Going into yesterday’s match, Wellington had scored just three goals in eight matches but coming out of the match had looked the strongest they had been all season in attack with five goals being scored in the match alone. This easily was Wellington’s best performance not only for this season but as a club in their relatively short time in the A-League Women. Hopefully, for Lawrence, this result can kickstart her side’s season and be a massive confidence booster as well.

BEN CAREY: Natalie Lawrence. She was able to keep Wellington Phoenix’s morale high after eight matches this season without a win. Then she implemented the perfect tactics to absolutely annihilate Canberra United at home. Super impressive.

Event of the Week:

Above: Wellington Phoenix’s women’s and men’s teams celebrate with fans on the pitch after they both won yesterday. Photo: Wellington Phoenix.

BEN GILBY: The scenes on the pitch at Sky Stadium as both Wellington Phoenix’s women’s and men’s teams were photographed with fans after, for the first time they both won on the same day at the same stadium. The ultimate ‘one club’ photo – fantastic to see.

KIERAN YAP: Brianna Edwards’ penalty save for Wellington Phoenix against Canberra United.

DENISE DUFFY: The first minute of the second half of the Wellington Phoenix match. Just a beautiful sequence of football. Milly Clegg connected with Chloe Knott who passed to Michaela Foster who made a perfect cross to Ava Pritchard for a goal. This put the Phoenix up a confident three goals to none. On display was their highest-quality football of their season. The Phoenix were finally flying.

RYAN MILLER-WOODS: Wellington Phoenix’s win against Canberra United. In quite a few of their matches so far this season, Wellington has been very unlucky with the final result not going their way and not necessarily reflecting the hard work and determination that has very much been shown by the players in the team. However, yesterday they were honestly something else entirely against Canberra. It not only made a statement and then some but it really was just reward for a win that had been a long time coming for the Phoenix this season.

BEN CAREY: Alex Chidiac’s incredible attempt on goal in the 85th minute against Adelaide United. She kicked the ball past a defender, headed it over the keeper, but hit the crossbar. If it had gone in it surely would have been a contender for goal of the season! What followed was a mad and exciting scramble from both teams.

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.