Why Phoenix goalkeeper Lily Alfeld is embracing her team’s underdog status

-

Lily Alfeld is not naive enough to think this season will be easy. But she and her Wellington Phoenix teammates are ready to ruffle some feathers during their first A-League Women campaign.

Embed from Getty Images

We all love an underdog. And no matter which way you look at it, Wellington Phoenix’s inaugural A-League Women team are the definition of an underdog.

But what do underdogs do best? You guessed it, they cause big juicy upsets! These possible upsets (and their juiciness) are a big reason why Phoenix goalkeeper Alfeld is embracing her team’s new status.

Having played for Perth Glory last season, the 26-year-old keeper was one of the few bright spots on a side that eventually finished up with the wooden spoon. She impressively led the league in saves made with 53, and she was also named the ‘players’ player of the year.

Embed from Getty Images

But even though Alfeld personally had a great season, the losses are what she remembers.

Having tasted bitter defeat far too often last year, the young goal stopper isn’t planning on going back for seconds, even if that’s what everyone is expecting of her new side.

“I’ve never been more excited for a season before,” she said.

“I think naturally we will be that team that everyone takes lightly, but we are planning on turning this into an advantage.”

Embed from Getty Images

To be fair there are plenty of reasons why the Phoenix Women’s side could be seen as easy beats by opposing teams. They are the new kids on the block in the A-League Women’s competition and they are also extremely inexperienced.

The team has only signed two players who have previous A-League Women’s experience, Alfeld being one of them. Not only this, but several members of the squad have also never even played any professional football before. Yup none, NADA!

Combine this limited experience with the likely situation that some players will feel the effects of homesickness while based in Australia, and the team haven’t exactly been given a winning formula.

But this is not a team that will simply roll over and hand three points to opposing teams!

Instead of huffing and puffing and deciding that this could be a season where they just gain some experience and learn a few things, Alfeld and her teammates have accepted the underdog mentality and are running with it.

“Everyone is embracing that underdog status that we will enter almost every game with,” she said.

“I hope some teams in the league are underestimating us because everyone is really keen to cause some big upsets.”

Embed from Getty Images

And although both Phoenix fans and players will be hoping some major upsets are on the menu this season, Alfeld also understands that they will not come easy.

Belief alone won’t be enough, the team will have to put in a massive amount of work both on and off the field if they are to have a chance against some of the more talented sides such as Melbourne City and Sydney FC.

“We are not naive and thinking we are going to win every game we play,” she said.

“There are a lot of unknowns about how we are going to sit in this league and while it’s quite nerve-racking, ultimately it’s very exciting being a new team.”

These unknowns will hopefully work to the advantage of the new side during the early stages of the season. Alfeld expects that “the element of surprise” will be crucial if the team is to compete.

Embed from Getty Images

With the season just a few weeks away it is now just a matter of time before we will see if Alfeld and the Phoenix Women’s side are destined for a true underdog story.

The team’s first chance for one of these upsets will come when they play their first-ever match against Western Sydney Wanderers on December 3.

Feature Image Credit: Wellington Phoenix 

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Harry Bartle
Harry is a 3rd year journalism student at Massey University Wellington. He will be covering the Wellington Phoenix during the 2021/22 season for the Football Sack and has a love hate relationship with Ulises Davila

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required