Wellington Phoenix captain Lily Alfeld: I owe a lot to Perth Glory

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Wellington Phoenix captain Lily Alfeld will come up against her former club, Perth Glory.

Mark Evans/Getty Images

Wellington Phoenix captain Lily Alfeld will come up against her former club, Perth Glory.

Lily Alfeld owes a lot to Perth Glory manager Alex Epikas for taking a punt in her final season.

The Wellington Phoenix captain was working a 9-5 job as a paralegal at a law firm and training with the Future Ferns home program in Auckland when Epikas called her ‘completely out of the blue’ and offered him a contract.

Alfeld only had three weeks on the job, but she was waiting for her big break after finishing at Louisiana State University in 2018, so despite taking a big pay cut to pursue her football dream, she jumped at the chance to head to Perth alongside fellow New Zealanders Liz Anton and Malia Steinmetz.

“It was a pretty tough conversation I had to have with my new employer,” Alfeld said.

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“I worked from 9am to 5pm and I did FFDP in the evening, but as soon as I had this opportunity, it was obvious.

“I was very lucky that my employer was so supportive and when I came back from Perth I was lucky to get my job back.

“In this league it’s definitely building, but there’s not enough to live on for the whole year, so it’s something that’s crossed my mind, but it’s always been my goal to play professionally. , and I had sacrificed so much to get to this point so when I had the chance, I grabbed it with both hands.

Alfeld went on to play every game for the Glory and although they failed to record a single win, picking up just one draw, his strong performance in goal made him the obvious choice. to be the Phoenix’s starting goaltender when they gained entry into the Women’s A-League short-term this season.

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Alfeld was the first signing for Phoenix coach Gemma Lewis and had the honor of becoming the club’s first New Zealand-born captain (male captain Alex Rufer was born in Switzerland) after being elected by her teammates .

The 26-year-old shot-stopper had originally hoped to return for a second season with the Glory, but Epikas reluctantly let her go as he believed he could make better use of his four import spots by using them on outfield players.

Luckily for Alfeld, the women’s team from Phoenix arrived at the right time.

“I would have loved to go back because it was a great experience, but they were looking to sign international outfield players rather than a goalkeeper, so I wasn’t going to get another opportunity there, so I I’m very lucky the Phoenix worked.

“I’m so thankful for Alex and the glory. They took a huge kick out of me when they signed me, Liz and Malia, but I will be forever grateful to them. Playing a lot of minutes has been invaluable at the start of this season.

The Glory have made great strides in 2021-22, beating Western Sydney Wanderers and Brisbane Roar twice, to take fifth place on the table.

The Phoenix, meanwhile, are still looking for their first victory after losing their last seven games after drawing against the Wanderers in the first round.

After a winless campaign last season, Alfeld has now gone 20 games in a season and a half without tasting victory.

She hopes to end her drought against her former club when the Phoenix take on the Glory at Wanderers Football Park on Monday.

The Phoenix are coming off two narrow one-goal losses and have shown signs of improvement.

Alfeld said she felt the first victory was imminent.

“It was a challenge, but I was aware over the two seasons that both teams hadn’t had ideal preparation, so we weren’t going to be Championship winning teams, but it takes a lot of resilience, and it was a huge challenge.

“But I feel like I’ve grown a lot more having to pick myself up every week after a loss than I would have if I was enjoying a team that was winning regularly. My personal growth has been enormous.

“This game is definitely the one we’re going to target. They’re a great team, but there are definitely areas where we can hurt them. With the momentum of the season, we’re seeing improvement with every game, so hopefully we can get that full performance because I feel like that win is coming.

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