They are housemates, born three days apart, the best of friends and will be the two youngest players on the pitch when Western Sydney Wanderers take on Melbourne City in the club’s historic first appearance in the Westfield W-League Semi Finals.
For Wanderers young guns Kyra Cooney-Cross and Courtney Nevin, they don’t come much bigger than Sunday’s assignment against the star-studded Premiers and competition benchmarks.
As you would expect from the exuberance of youth, the 18-year-olds will go into the contest with no fear – just an intense desire to do well and make a significant contribution as the Red and Black look to go one step further and qualify for the Grand Final in what is already a landmark season for the club.
“I’m feeling good and I think we have a good week of preparation ahead of us to be able to work out how we are going to play and what [head coach] Dean [Heffernan] wants from us,” Cooney-Cross told wswanderers.com.au
“It’s great being with girls this week to relax and train. I think it’s going to be a good game. It will be tough because City have many top-class players but I think we can do it.
“We are excited because the club has not been in a semi-final before ... it’s a great feeling after eight years.”
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Given she was born in Sydney’s west, Nevin, who was called into a Westfield Matildas training squad late last year, said she felt a sense of pride to have helped the Wanderers make the play-offs.
“It is an amazing opportunity especially because I am from the region,” added Nevin.
Midfielder Cooney-Cross and full-back Nevin have mirrored each others seasons, establishing themselves as regular starting members of the starting line-up.
Cooney-Cross, who signed from Melbourne Victory at the start of the season, featured in all 12 regular season games, starting in 11, while in an wonderful show of faith from the coaching staff, Nevin played every minute of every match, which is a phenomenal achievement for such a young player.
While they worked extremely hard during the pre-season, both players admitted they never expected to figure so prominently this season.
“No, I didn’t expect to play every game, so I am really happy to have done so,” said Cooney-Cross, who scored the match winner on debut for the club against Adelaide United when she came on as a substitute in the opening game of the season.
Nevin was equally surprised.
“It wasn’t something I expected,” said Nevin. “Every training session I tried to work as hard as I could to improve myself so I could be in that position.”
Cooney-Cross was happy to get one up on Nevin as she beats her friend by three days for the honour of being the youngest player on the pitch on Sunday. Cooney-Cross was born on 15 February, 2002 and Nevin on 12 February, 2002.
“To be honest, I hadn’t thought about,” said Cooney-Cross with a smile.
“It makes me feel good but I’m just happy to be playing and I can’t wait for Sunday.”
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