Wellington Phoenix A-League Women 2022/23 Season Preview

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After a tough inaugural season away from home in the A-League Women, Wellington Phoenix will be looking to use Sky Stadium to their advantage to jump up the ladder this season.

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Last season…

A-League Women: 10th

Finals: N/A

They’ll win the league because…

They are back at home in New Zealand. In the last few years, we have seen several New Zealand-based teams struggle living and playing in Australia due to COVID. Adding to this, it was the Wellington Phoenix Women’s first ever season, which is hard for any team. Home advantage is massive in football, especially with the Yellow Fever. This season they will bounce back and become a competitive side in this competition.

New coach Natalie Lawrence will give them a brand new style and feel to a team that struggled heavily last season. Lawrence has a wealth of experience, having led the Vancouver Whitecaps Women’s academy, as well as head coach of Team Wellington Men’s youth team.

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She was the assistant of the Phoenix in their inaugural season last year and will look to bring consistency this season.

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Like all great teams, there must be a balance between youth and experience. Wellington made sure they got some quality marquee signings early on that can go straight into their first team, like Betsy Hassett and Paige Satchell.

At 32, attacking midfielder Betsy Hassett brings something that the Phoenix lacked last season, experience. Hassett has played all around the world for teams like Ajax, Manchester City and Werder Bremen. She has played 128 games for the Football Ferns and will be a key player for the side this season.

Another major signing is forward Paige Satchell, who played 12 matches for Sydney FC in the A-League Women last season. Satchell’s pace will add a different threat to the Phoenix attack. The current Football Ferns striker will be crucial to making their poor goal scoring last season a thing of the past this time around.

These signings show their intent to move up the ladder this season. Both Hassett and Satchell have the potential to become key parts of a side that could make a run for the finals this season and possibly go even further.

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They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

If last season is anything to go by, this Phoenix team are genuine contenders to be cellar dwellers again this season.

They have lost their star player Grace Jale, who scored six out of 13 of their goals last season. The side were the second worst attacking team and losing Jale will diminish their attack. There is a high chance that this Phoenix side will be one of the worst, if not the worst attacking side this season as well.

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Attack isn’t even the worst of their problems though. The Phoenix defence was the worst in the league last time around, conceding 36 goals in just 12 matches. They have made a couple of signings in the defence department, but these are more for squad depth rather than players that will make a huge difference. This season may unfortunately be more of the same defensively for the Phoenix.

The squad is still the youngest in the A-League Women and as the saying goes, ‘You can’t win anything with kids.’ This side is still not ready to contend for the A-League Women title, but are building the foundations for a strong side in the future.

Talk around the water cooler…look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information

Last season, the side had an average age of 20.8 – making them the youngest side in the competition by far.

The off-season brought…

Talented young players.

Last season the club struggled with depth issues living away from home in Australia, using only 20 players, the lowest amount in the competition.

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They will be heavily boosted being back home in New Zealand, with many talented young players coming across the ditch. The squad is already up to 22 players, which should give Lawrence more options to use throughout the season.

Defender Marisa van der Meer started in every game for New Zealand in the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup. She also has experience in this league, after playing nine matches for Melbourne City last season.

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Another young signing with talent is centre-back Claudia Cicco, who at 18 years old attended the recent Young Matilda’s training camp after impressing in the NSW women’s first grade division last season. These two signings are just a sample of the young talent that the Phoenix possess this season.

Key player

Lily Alfeld.

She will be out for the start due to a knee injury, but Alfeld is crucial to the side’s success this season.

The club’s first ever signing and inaugural captain, Alfeld was a shining light in a tough season. She started in every match and made 53 saves, the most in the competition.

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Alfeld was nominated twice for the PFA’s player of the month award last season, leading to her being called up for the Football Ferns. She still hasn’t made her debut but another stellar season will give her a great chance to play in a home FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Her leadership and goalkeeping skills will be crucial to the side moving up from the bottom of the ladder.

One to watch

Milly Clegg.

The 17-year-old forward is one of New Zealand’s best and brightest footballing talents.

She has represented her nation at both the U-17 and U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cups this year, scoring goals in both tournaments. The young forward signed an amateur contract with the club last week, giving her the option to still play college football in the US in the future.

Clegg has been a prolific goal scorer in every side she has played for, something this Phoenix team desperately needs after losing Jale. Her clinical finishing and pace will give her every chance to dominate at this level as well.

Full squad list

Goalkeepers: Brianna Edwards, Georgia Candy, Lily Alfeld.

Defenders: Claudia Cicco, Kate Taylor, Mackenzie Barry, Marisa van der Meer, Michaela Foster, Saskia Vosper, Te Reremoana Walker, Zoe McMeeken

Midfielders: Alyssa Whinham, Betsy Hassett, Chloe Knott, Emma Rolston, Grace Wisniewski, Isabel Gomez,

Forwards: Ava Pritchard, Charlotte Lancaster, Michaela Robertson, Milly Clegg, Paige Satchell

Feature image credit: Speed Media

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Joshua Dean
Joshua Dean
Aspiring sports journalist! I love sports and enjoy writing, so added my two hobbies together! Studying Journalism at Massey University, Wellington.

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