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ALW Match Preview: Western United vs Wellington Phoenix

Western United A-League Women

Western United will go in search of a fifth consecutive Liberty A-League Women win when it faces Wellington Phoenix at City Vista Pavilion and Sports Field on Sunday.

Match Details

Liberty A-League Women Round 17

Western United vs Wellington Phoenix

Sunday, 18 February

Kick-off: 5:00pm AEDT

City Vista Pavilion and Sports Field, Fraser Rise

Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live and free on 10Play, and on Paramount+

Tickets

Western United Team News

Hillary Beall will play her final match for Western United after it was announced on Friday that she would depart to join pre-season training with her new NWSL side, San Diego Wave FC.

The American will make her 33rd appearance for the Green and Black and will be eager to go out on a high after an extraordinary stint at Western United.

Beall is part of an unchanged extended squad as Kat Smith looks to see her players continue to roll on heading into the business end of the campaign.

Chloe Logarzo, Jaclyn Sawicki, Tyla Jay Vlajnic and Kahli Johnson will all head off on international duty after this match, hoping to bring three points with them on their respective travels.

Western United squad: 1. Alyssa DALL’OSTE (gk), 2. Stacey PAPADOPOULOS, 4. Jaclyn SAWICKI, 5. Aimee MEDWIN, 6. Chloe LOGARZO, 7. Kiara DE DOMIZIO, 9. Hannah KEANE, 10. Kahli JOHNSON, 11. Emma ROBERS, 12. Lucy RICHARDS, 13. Avaani PRAKASH, 14. Natasha DAKIC, 15. Adriana TARANTO, 16. Melissa TARANTO, 18. Grace MAHER, 19. Tyla Jay VLAJNIC, 20. Keiwa HIEDA, 21. Hillary BEALL (gk), 22. Alana CERNE, 24. Julia SARDO

Full Western United squad

Last time out

Western United showed its trademark grit and determination last week, coming from behind to snatch a 3-2 win against Brisbane Roar.

WATCH: Highlights from United’s thrilling 3-2 win over Brisbane Roar last week

Vlajnic set up two goals from corners, Adriana Taranto scored her fifth of the season but Logarzo stole the show with a brace, including a stoppage-time penalty to win the game.

The Opponent

Wellington Phoenix are enjoying a splendid 2023/24 season so far. After finishing on the bottom of the table in both of their first two seasons in the competition, the Phoenix have already eclipsed their previous club record points total.

Despite a difficult recent run of six defeats in eight matches, Wellington remain firmly in the hotly contested race for finals football.

Wellington have been led by American-born, Venezuelan international Mariana Speckmaier who has starred up front with a team-high seven goals.

As ever, a strong contingent of New Zealand internationals have made key contributions while Canadian goalkeeper Rylee Foster has been one of the stories of the season, returning to the pitch after a life-changing road accident.

Wellington will be eager to get back to the consistency of results from the beginning of the season and will force Western United to be at its best in order to win.

Key Matchup: Grace Maher vs Mariana Speckmaier

Speckmaier will be the one for Western United to pay attention to with Grace Maher and the remainder of the defence hoping to keep the Wellington striker at bay.

Maher has been outstanding in her debut season in Green and Black, playing every single minute of the campaign so far and consistently being one of the best players on the pitch.

Her ability in possession sets the tone for Western United’s attacking play and her strength in defence is just as good, reading the game and timing each challenge to perfection.

Maher will be tested on Sunday by the speed and direct running of Speckmaier who loves to get in behind the opposition defence and find herself in on goal.

Maher will relish the occasion and will have to stay switched on from the opening whistle to win this individual battle and help United win the game.

Western United Player to Watch: Hillary Beall

She was the player to watch last week, and it’s impossible to go past Beall again this week as she looks to shine one last time for Western United.

The No.21 has been a revelation in the West with a bounty of individual accolades to take home with her to San Diego when she jets off after this match.

Always a big-game player, Beall will not allow her focus to waver until the final second on Sunday and she will want nothing more than a clean sheet and a victory to round out her time at Western United.

Beall has been in tremendous form of late, earning a nomination for the Liberty A-League January Player of the Month award on the back of her performances.

With that run of form and the motivation in her final Western United match, expect Beall to be at the top of her game on Sunday.

Words from Kat Smith

On the versatility and adaptability of the team to adjust to changes during games

“It comes down to all the work we’ve done on ourselves to be able to put players in those situations – the clarity and the direction that we are trying to achieve.

“A lot of work has been done and we have an incredible group of staff that work really hard with individual players to make sure they’ve got a really good understanding. We elevate players to make sure they’re in positions of their strengths, and we look to capitalise.”

On Hillary Beall as she prepares for her final Western United game

“Hillary has been an absolute rock there at the back. To come in (this season), you could see why she was golden glove last season.

“We had some conversations about how to stay at the top, and she’s certainly put together some performances with the aid of our defensive unit to keep us in games.

“She’s been part of this journey from the very beginning, and I think it’s very important that impact is acknowledged and that the fans really come in and watch her do her thing. She’ll always be part of the Green and Black family and we’ll be supporting her from afar.”