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Phoenix youngster caps remarkable year with Football Ferns selection

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 1 Nov 2022, 2:00PM
Grace Wisnewski in action for the Phoenix. Photo / Photosport
Grace Wisnewski in action for the Phoenix. Photo / Photosport

Phoenix youngster caps remarkable year with Football Ferns selection

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 1 Nov 2022, 2:00PM

Wellington Phoenix midfielder Grace Wisnewski has capped a rollercoaster 12 months with a call up to the Football Ferns.

Wisnewski is the only uncapped player in the 24-strong squad named to take on Korea Republic next month in Christchurch.

The 20-year-old was an integral member of the Phoenix women’s side in their inaugural season, playing the full 90 minutes in each of the 11 matches she started.

She missed three games for mental health reasons, cutting short her stay in Wollongong to return to New Zealand when the borders opened.

Wisnewski then returned to football after a mental health break and started all three of the Junior Football Ferns’ group matches at the Fifa U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica, scoring a goal against Mexico.

“Grace has been a consistent performer in the A-League and at the Fifa U-20 Women’s World Cup,” said Ferns coach Jitka Klimková in a statement. “I always saw her as an aggressive defender, but in the World Cup environment she also showed how dangerous she is going forward.

“I also want to commend Grace on her bravery in talking about her challenges at the end of the A-League season. After taking a few months out, she has come back so much stronger, and can be a great role model for other young players coming through.”

The squad has a familiar feel, though is missing some regulars.

Defender CJ Bott isn’t making the trip, instead choosing to focus on her club football as she tries to establish herself with Leicester in the Women’s Super League. The Foxes are currently bottom of the table and Bott has had limited game time in recent weeks.

Veteran striker Hannah Wilkinson also wasn’t selected after picking up an injury during pre-season training while former captain Abby Erceg remains in self imposed exile.

Youngster Alyssa Whinham has missed the cut after making the trip to Japan earlier this month.

The series represents the first games in New Zealand in more than four years since the 3-1 loss to Japan in Wellington in June 2018.

It will be an extra special occasion for Cantabrians Vic Esson, Meikayla Moore, Ashleigh Ward, Kate Taylor and Gabi Rennie, who get to play in their hometown. The Ferns last played in Christchurch in 1991.

“I’m so happy for our players to finally have the chance to come home and play in front of their people,” said Klimková.

The Ferns (world No 22) last faced South Korea (17) in November.

After a 2-1 loss in the first match they won 2-0 in the second fixture, which was the first victory of Klimkova’s tenure.

The opening game is on Saturday November 12 (2:30pm) with the second three days later on Tuesday night (6pm).

Football Ferns squad

Elizabeth Anton; Perth Glory, Australia (13/0)

Mackenzie Barry; Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ (1/0)

Katie Bowen; Unattached (85/3)

Claudia Bunge; Melbourne Victory FC, Australia (14/0)

Olivia Chance; Celtic FC, Scotland (35/1)

Daisy Cleverley; HB Køge, Denmark (22/2)

Ava Collins; St John’s University, USA (5/0)

Victoria Esson; Rangers FC, Scotland (10/0)

Ally Green; Vålerenga, Norway (2/0)

Jacqui Hand; Aland United, Finland (10/1)

Betsy Hassett; Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ (135/14)

Grace Jale; Canberra United, Australia (8/2)

Anna Leat; Aston Villa FC, England (9/0)

Meikayla Moore; Glasgow City FC, Scotland (58/4)

Erin Nayler; Umeå IK, Sweden (78/0)

Gabi Rennie; Arizona State University, USA (16/2)

Ali Riley; Angel City FC, USA (147/2)

Indiah-Paige Riley; Fortuna Hjørring, Denmark (3/0)

Emma Rolston; Avaldsnes IL, Norway (13/6)

Paige Satchell; Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ (33/2)

Malia Steinmetz; Western Sydney Wanderers, Australia (11/0)

Kate Taylor; Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ (5/0)

Ashleigh Ward; Southampton FC, England (2/0)

Grace Wisnewski; Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ, (0/0)*


Football Ferns v Korea Republic

Game 1: Saturday, 12 November, Kickoff at 2.30pm - Orangetheory Stadium

Game 2: Tuesday, 15 November, Kickoff at 6pm - Orangetheory Stadium

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