Sarah West and her Canberra United Academy (CUA) side still have hope for their 2022 WNPL season as they look to get three points against Belconnen this weekend at Hawker Enclosed.
Although they started their season with a full squad, injuries have left West relying on her reserves to fill first team spots and she couldn’t be more pleased with the effort she has seen.
West is missing key players in her squad who provide experience and depth to the group. Sofia Christopherson, who leads her attack is out with an injury, as well as Luella Coleman and Charli Gregson through illness. West is more than pleased with the reserve players who stepped up and filled those big gaps.
“I’m really pleased, every single week there is nothing but amazing effort from the girls, we have quite a lot of injuries at the moment,” West said.
“Everybody from our reserves are stepping up and that means our 17s are stepping up as well and that’s the way the academy is designed to work. So, I can’t say I am disappointed because the individuals and the teams are executing what we are working on during training.
“We had to make changes to our squad not out of desire, we had to make changes out of necessity. We are missing Christo (Sofia Christopherson), she is one of our co-captains and her work rate and intensity is always outstanding.
“We also missed LuLu Coleman (Luella Coleman) through illness and Charli Gregson, who had scored a few goals for us this season out from illness too, so we had three key players missing, and to their credit, we had players step in and still put out a solid performance.”
As the academy aims to prepare their players for the next level of football, West aims to get her girls performing week in week out which is something that every coach wants to see. She hopes to see that her squad can execute what they practise in training and build each player’s discipline.
“Being at the academy, I’m looking for responses to what we are doing at training and I’m looking for the girls to execute what we are working on at training and for the most part, they are.” West commented.
“Week in week out they are showing they have maturity beyond their years and they’re able to play disciplined football. What is usually killing us is that we aren’t holding that discipline for the full 90.
“If the games stopped at 60, we would take the result and the points but my job as head coach is to take this young team and work with them to be able to hold that concentration and focus and discipline for 90 minutes.”
After a draw with Gungahlin United in their last game, West is hoping her side can perform at their best when they take on Belconnen this weekend. Currently, Belconnen sit fourth, just one above CUA who are in fifth. West believes that her side has what it takes to beat every team in the league, they just need to stay disciplined and stick to their game plan.
“It’s important to get a win this weekend for our season,” she said. “Winning is not everything at the academy, in fact, what’s more important to us is that the girls leave us at the end of their time at the academy with all the tools they need to pursue their goals.
“But the girls want to win, of course they do, and the girls want to opportunity and earn the spot in the finals. We need to start taking points off the top four teams and we want to win against Belconnen and there is no reason why we can’t. We want to be challenging and stealing points from Canberra Croatia and Canberra Olympic, and on their best day, there is no reason why they cannot do that.”
All eyes are set on the second half of the season with CUA aiming to take points away from the top four clubs and boost their own chance at stealing a finals spot and maybe even winning the finals competition. It’s there for the taking in the WNPL 2022 season.
Words: Matthew Williams