Foundation fullback signs on for another season

Saskia Vosper has jumped at the chance to play a second season with the Wellington Phoenix and work under new head coach Natalie Lawrence.

The versatile defender has recommitted to the club for the 2022-23 Liberty A-League season, after featuring 13 times for the Phoenix in their inaugural campaign in Australia.

Vosper, 23, didn’t hesitate to re-sign with the Phoenix, despite Gemma Lewis stepping down as head coach to return home to Wales.

“I have full confidence in Nat and full respect for her,” Vosper said. “I’m excited for Gemma and her new venture in Wales, but I’m still very excited to be working under Nat.

“It was a really simple decision to sign on for another season, especially with the signings that the club has already made. A lot of the girls are back so the core group is pretty similar.”

The former New Zealand age-group international feels there is a sense of unfinished business amongst the players returning to the squad.

“We’ll definitely be looking to improve on last season. Last season we had a couple of wins, but finishing bottom wasn’t too great.

“Obviously everyone was pretty new to the professional scene so we’re all coming in with a bit more experience in the A-League this year.

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 10: Saskia Vosper of the Phoenix looks on during the round two A-League Womens match between Newcastle Jets and Wellington Phoenix at McDonald Jones Stadium, on December 10, 2021, in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

“And with Betsy [Hassett] and Paige [Satchell] joining the squad they bring a lot of experience from professional environments and the Ferns.

“We’re definitely looking to improve on last season’s results and to do that in front of a home crowd at Sky Stadium would be immense.”

Lawrence has made it clear she likes her teams to play attacking football, which Vosper relishes.

“I don’t want to be always playing defensively. It’s a lot of work for a defender if we’re just being defensive.

“Being able to join in on the attacks makes football a lot more fun for me and that’s why I enjoy being a fullback as I’m involved in both aspects of the game.”

She will vie with New Zealand under-20 international Marisa van der Meer for the left fullback role.

“I definitely like being on the left because I can cut in and do whatever I like on my right foot. I also have a decent enough left foot.

“It’s always good to have healthy competition. It’s only going to make me better as a player fighting for my spot so I’m excited for the challenge ahead.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 31: Saskia Vosper of Phoenix competes for the ball during the round nine A-League Women’s match between Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix at Blacktown Football Park, on January 31, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Phoenix head coach Natalie Lawrence says incumbent right back Zoe McMeeken will also be put under pressure by the pair.

“I think all of the fullbacks will be competing against each other and I think Saskia and Marisa can also put their hand up to play at centre back,” Lawrence said.

“I think that’s the exciting thing about the squad this year there’s a little bit more competition in those areas to really drive that intensity at training.”

Lawrence says Vosper’s versatility is one of her strengths.

“Saskia was a bit unfortunate that she got injured midway through the season, but whenever she came on we could play her in a raft of positions.

“We can play her all across the back, we can play her as a winger if we need to, and we know that she’ll make a difference.

“For us for our positional depth and getting the right characters in the team it was a no brainer to re-sign Saskia for the season.”

Saskia Vosper is the Wellington Phoenix’s 14th signing for the 2022-23 Liberty A-League season, joining fellow foundation players Lily Alfeld, Kate Taylor, Mackenzie Barry, Alyssa Whinham, Chloe Knott, Ava Pritchard, Grace Wisnewski, Isabel Gomez, Zoe McMeeken and Brianna Edwards, New Zealand U-20 international Marisa van der Meer and Football Ferns recruits Betsy Hassett and Paige Satchell in the Nix squad.