Steph Catley: Same same but different

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Image Credit: Melbourne Victory Women

Although I was heading to the same ground that we had been undefeated at last season, it felt very, very different.

I, for one, was driving myself there for the very first time.

We wear the same uniform but find ourselves with a new coach and a very different team full of many new and young faces, including a new international (Jessica McDonald) and returning international Danielle Johnson.

We’d had another very strong week of training under coach Mike Mulvey who continues to transform our team in ways I would never have thought possible after such a difficult pre-season. We felt strong and prepared for the match ahead knowing how tough Brisbane would be in terms of physicality and, mostly, experience.

I thought that the game was very evenly contested. Early in the first half Vedrana Popovic hit a spectacular free kick that sailed into the top right corner. She’d hit it flawlessly and it was a kick in the guts for us after we’d started gathering some real momentum in the game.

Throughout W-League history we’d always been the team that were never easy beats and I think on Saturday we proved that this is still the case. We came out firing in the second half and had many opportunities on goal but unfortunately couldn’t find the back of the net.

I thought our best player on the day was Rebekah Stott who was completely solid in the backline as usual and was always accurate and smart in the way she used the ball.

It was disappointing not to get any points from the game but I feel like we were able get a feel for what we’re really capable of, and see it in action for the first time this season.

During the game we lost both Louisa Bisby and Ashley Brown to ACL injuries. I’ve played with Bis for a long time but I wasn’t quite sure what she’d done when she’d gone down. But I’ve known Ash since I was eleven and as soon as I saw her go down I knew something was very wrong and it was a sickening feeling.

Seeing both of them after the game in the change-rooms was very difficult. It’s hard to find the right words for someone in that situation. I found myself just wanting answers about how it’s possible to have so many female footballers suffer ACL injuries in the same year.

I’ve already felt a bit lost without Ash at training who is virtually my other half.

All we can do now is re-group as a team and use both Ashley and Louisa as inspiration to go on and play the best football we’re capable of against Newcastle on Saturday and for the rest of the season.

Ash and Bis are both extremely strong individuals and will both come back from this unfortunate set-back bigger, better and stronger in every way.

After yet another strong and impressive week of training, we’re raring for it to be Saturday already! Come down and help us get our first win of the season against Newcastle at Simonds Stadium in Geelong at 2pm!

Read all of Steph’s columns for The Football Sack. 

Winner of 2011/12 Female Footballer of the Year in the Australian Football Fan Awards, young star for Melbourne Victory Women Stephanie Catley is a current Matilda and is a born and bred Victorian. Catch the W-League every week at your local ground or if you can’t make the game watch it on ABC1.

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