Phoenix snap up young Canterbury talent

Lily Alfeld. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Lily Alfeld. Photo: Geoff Sloan
While many of her ground-breaking Wellington Phoenix teammates are venturing into the unknown, Lily Alfeld is acutely aware of the challenges that await.

Alfeld joins new Phoenix signings Zoe McMeeken from Lincoln High School, Coastal Spirit defender Kate Taylor, Ava Pritchard, Kelli Brown, Chloe Knott, Grace Jale, Grace Wisnewski, Mackenzie Barry and Saskia Vosper.

The experienced goalkeeper wasn’t wearing kid gloves when relishing the prospect of New Zealand finally joining the W-League after Football Federation Australia relented after initially blocking the expansion club.

Alfeld secured a last-minute deal with Perth Glory after the Phoenix’s hopes were dashed last season, with the quality of the competition proving an eye-opener for the 26-year-old from Lincoln.

Glory endured a tough campaign, finishing bottom of the nine-team league, and although they finished with a -25 goal differential, Alfeld was still named the players’ player of the year.

“It was a step up to what we see in New Zealand. We (Perth) had an inexperienced team, it’s going to be quite similar to what we’re going to face with the Phoenix,” she said.

“It will be tough, our backs will be against the wall, but it’s an exciting challenge.”

Lily Alfeld playing for the Glory. Photo: Getty
Lily Alfeld playing for the Glory. Photo: Getty
Alfeld was the first squad member to be unveiled last Friday, more are expected this week.

“It’s been in the pipeline for a few months, it was all just a waiting game to see if it was going to come to fruition,” said Alfeld, who has been working remotely for an Auckland law firm since returning from Western Australia.

The Phoenix’s admission was a relief given the FFA thwarted the club’s plans last season, fearing their involvement would allow New Zealand internationals to benefit from high quality competition leading into the transtasman rivals jointly hosting the 2023 World Cup.

“I think we all got to the point where we thought this might never happen so everyone’s stoked. It’s such great timing with women’s football getting a bit of momentum with the World Cup coming,” Alfeld said.

“It’ll be great for young girls to see there is a pathway within New Zealand to play professionally.”

The Phoenix will be based in Wollongong, where the men’s team were headquartered during the A-League, with Alfeld heading across next month ahead of the season-opener in December.

Zoe McMeeken. Photo: Supplied
Zoe McMeeken. Photo: Supplied
McMeeken the youngest signing
Lincoln High School student Zoe McMeeken finishes her year 13 exams early this week and is then off to Wellington to also link up with the Phoenix.

The 17-year-old is the club’s youngest signing.

McMeeken, a wing back, who carved her senior career with Coastal Spirit after playing through the grades for Selwyn United, is regarded as one of the most promising young players in New Zealand.

Renowned for her fitness and athleticism, she has been a national representative through the grades.

She went to Australia with the NZ secondary schools team in 2018, was in the NZ under 16s that went to China in 2019 and was in the NZ under-17 team last year that was scheduled to play in the cancelled World Cup.



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