Category: Front Page, Womens
Who's that girl?
writes Stephanie Brantz
The grand final rematch between Canberra and Brisbane was the headline act for the restart of the Westfield W-League but the traditional league heavyweights had their spotlight well and truly stolen by an unlikely culprit.
The stories of brilliant results for the Adelaide United women’s team have been few and far between in season’s past, yet on the opening weekend it was the Lady Reds who set the Twittersphere alight.
At Burton Park, Dave Edmondson’s team came from 3-1 down against the Western Sydney Wanderers to win the game 4-3, and while it was a great fight-back (and result) for Adelaide, it was the manner in which the match was won which caught the attention of football followers.
A stunning 11-minute hat-trick from New Zealand import Sarah McLaughlin, had everyone asking, “Who’s that girl”?
Dave Edmondson knows exactly who she is, after coaching her for four years in New Zealand at Claudelands Rovers.
While obviously delighted with the result, the Red’s coach was not particularly surprised by McLaughlin’s efforts. “She regularly scores from distance, in fact two of those goals were a bit close for her” he joked.
He sent a short video highlights package back to Sarah’s parents in New Zealand, who declared her efforts "typical Sarah goals".
Of her debut performance, their daughter is equally pragmatic saying, “It just all fell into place, I got 3 shots in the game and they all went in”.
The 21-year-old striker has settled down nicely into her new life, deferring her studies at Waikato University (where she is an Edmund Hillary scholarship holder studying a combined degree in Sport and Leisure studies/Management Communication), to move into a share house in Adelaide with 4 of her compatriots.
While keener on rugby union as a youngster, her parents encouraged her to give football a try and she hasn’t looked back, starting her round ball career at Western United and Fraser High School alongside a young Marco Rojas (now with Melbourne Victory).
Success came quickly and by the age of 16, she was the MVP at the National Identification tournament, and has since collected a cabinet full of trophies, as well as earning selection in the National U17, U20 teams, with her Senior Team debut coming in 2009.
Edmondson describes her as a real technical player with great skills and bursts of speed who strikes a ball fantastically.
“At club level she would score goals from the halfway line, and by 18 years old I had her playing in my men’s team”, he recalls.
“She is a footballer through and through. After matches at our club in New Zealand, we would gather for speeches and so on in the bar, but as soon as they were over, Sarah would be back out on the pitch juggling a ball.”
With the departure of internationals Ashleigh Gunning and Anna Green, the addition of McLaughlin and fellow New Zealander Holly Patterson has paid instant dividends for the Reds, their experience valuable in a side which has an average age of just 19 years.
For this week at least, the Reds sit in second spot and are preparing for a top-of-the-table clash as they travel to Perth and with a perfect start to the season, confidence is high.
They remain realistic though, as coach Dave Edmondson sums it up, “One match, does not make a season, however it’s nice to be thinking of how we can win games, rather than trying not to lose.”