Is Smith the Wanderers’ Semi Final x-factor?
She’s the finals rookie who may just prove to be Western Sydney Wanderers most important player in Sunday’s Westfield W-League Semi Final against Melbourne City.
Abby Smith has been one of the unsung heroes of the Wanderers rise from bottom of the ladder last season to the club’s first-ever Westfield W-League finals appearance.
In her first season playing abroad, the American goalkeeper has provided a calming influence for Dean Heffernan’s side.
You only have to look at the numbers to see the impact Smith has had on this Wanderers side in an injury-disrupted campaign.
In the eight games the 26-year-old has played, the Wanderers conceded just nine goals, winning six matches drawing one with just the one defeat.
But in the four games she was absent due to a knee injury, the Red and Black slumped to three defeats – including a 4-0 loss to City - and shipped 11 goals.
So it’s good news Smith will be back in goal for Sunday’s Grand Final qualifier against the undefeated Premiers.
“I’m really excited. Obviously it is a big thing for the club and the team and we are really focused,” Smith told the Wanderers' official website.
“On the inside I’m like little butterflies just because it’s fun. It’s always something we strive for when we are playing so obviously making Finals is exciting.
“City are a good team so it will be a tough game but I think as a group we are very excited,” she added.
“Yes, we have done really well this season but we are going to have to bring our A-game on Sunday. You want to play your best and raise the level no matter what.”
Smith only returned to action for the Wanderers’ final round win over Perth Glory which booked their finals berth.
With a two week break between that match and Sunday’s Semi Final, it’s given her extra time to get her knee right to ensure she’s 100% come kick-off at ABD Stadium on Sunday (1.30pm AEDT).
“It’s all good now and I am all healed up,” Smith said.
“Anyone who has experienced [injuries knows] it is not the most fun, but it is not like I took the time off to have a vacation.
“You are in here, you are rehabbing, you are lifting, you are doing everything in your power to get back onto the field.
“It’s difficult not to be playing, but you have to be on edge.”
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WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Road to the Westfield W-League Semi Final
Westfield W-League Semi Final
Melbourne City FC (1) vs Western Sydney Wanderers FC (4)
Date: Sunday, 15 March 2020
Venue: ABD Stadium, Broadmeadows
Kick-off: 1:30pm AEDT