W-League Player of the Week: Stephanie Ochs

Last season’s premiers Canberra United are finally building some momentum after an erratic start to the season with pacy forward Stephanie Ochs very much at the heart of the action.

Ochs scored the goal of the match on Sunday as Canberra impressed in inflicting a record-equalling 3-0 defeat on Sydney FC to put a mortgage on second with three matches remaining.

American Ochs, who is enjoying her second season Down Under, talks about Canberra’s finals push, playing in Australia and much more.

It seems the team have now found their rhythm after a slow start?

At the beginning we were still trying to work out a few things. But I think we are finally realising the kind of style we want to play. Early on there was always something missing, be it a goal or two. But now I think we have got it together and it is working well for us.

Is the team now focussed on a top-two finish and securing a home semi-final?

I think that is what we are aiming for at this point. Having home advantage is always good and that is in our heads as to what we are working towards.

How have you found your own form this season?

It took me a while to adjust back to being a striker again. Back in America I was playing left back for a while so I needed to get out there and do some shooting and other things, and I think I am finally getting it (my form) back.

Do you prefer playing in the forward line or at fullback?

They both have positive attributes, but I have always been a forward my whole life so that has always been my position, but when I started playing left back I was surprised how much I actually enjoyed it. I found plenty of creativity at left back because back home we like the fullbacks to get forward, but it was a little new to defend!

You obviously enjoy coming to Australia?

I do. It is good for me as it fits perfectly with the American season. It is a good league and a great environment.

It is a similar squad to last year so that has helped with the cohesion and momentum?

I think that is something we try to use to our advantage. We know each other very well and we know each other’s style. It is good for us, and we all get along which is nice.

Who is your toughest individual opponent in the W-League?

Going up against Steph Catley at Melbourne Victory was tough. She is a smart player, and she is very fit and physical. She is a tough one to go against because you need more than just speed to beat her. You have to be creative and she really challenges you.

What are some of the differences between the US league (WNSL) and the W-League?

I get asked this question a lot. Back in America it is a very physical game. Usually after a game back home I am completely drained. Everyone on the field is extremely fit and strong. I feel like the pool (of players) is a bit smaller in Australia, whereas back home we have millions of girls playing. Here the game is a bit different, and I would say more tactical. Here there is a heavier emphasis on how to break an opponent down. There is more competition this year (in the W-League) even compared to last year.

Is there much interest in American players coming to Australia?

I have had at least five or six girls asking me about coming here. The timing is great and it (Australia) is a great place to be. They can see the league is competitive and really growing and they want to be a part of it.

And finally, on a light-hearted note, have you had a favourite Australiana moment?

Well there are a lot of kangaroos around Canberra which I really love. My favourite moment was actually in Sydney and climbing the Harbour Bridge which was a very tourist thing to do but I loved it.