Isabel Gomez has jumped at the chance to return for a second season with the Wellington Phoenix.
The combative Australian midfielder has signed on with the Phoenix for the 2022-23 Liberty A-League, after featuring in all 14 of the team’s games in their maiden season.
Gomez, 20, started all but one of the Nix’s matches, including their breakthrough win over Canberra United in February.
“I loved last season,” Gomez said. “It felt like home playing with all the girls. They were really nice and I fitted in well with everyone.
“I’m really happy to have been asked back by Gemma. I’m really keen for this season.”
She has yet to step foot in New Zealand but is looking forward to assembling with the squad in Wellington in October.
“I’m a bit nervous. I hear it’s cold and I’m not a big fan of the cold, but I’m really excited.
“Obviously the New Zealanders came to Wollongong last season and now it’s time for the Aussie girls to go over to New Zealand.
“It’ll be a bit of a change, but I’m super excited as I know the girls will be with me every step of the way.”
Gomez is the fourth midfielder signed for the 2022-23 season and she is welcoming the extra competition for places with 132-cap Football Fern Betsy Hassett joining the side.
“I’m excited to be playing with some new players. We needed some experience last year so it’s good to get Betsy in.
“I’m so excited to train with her and see how we play together.”
As well as playing as a holding midfielder, as she did for the Phoenix last season, the Australian age-group international has been starting matches at centre back for Northern Tigers in the National Premier Leagues New South Wales women’s first grade competition.
“I feel like I’m good at both positions. You’ve got to be good technically as a centre back and central midfielder so you can switch between.”
The Tigers sit second on the ladder, with Gomez having played all 17 of their matches.
“We’re doing really well this season.
“Getting a whole NPL season in will be good for me. It will keep my fitness up for the A-League season. It’s helped a lot not having Covid interrupt the season.”
Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis is delighted Gomez has re-signed with the club after being “a pretty key player for us last season”.
“Izzy had some really good games where she was impactful for us,” Lewis said. “She was a link for us in the midfield. She allowed us to play, while also breaking up what the opposition were doing.
“We took an opportunity on her and gave her a lot more exposure and a lot more game time and I think she ran with that.
“That was coming off the back of a season where they didn’t really have football because they came out of Covid. Whereas this season she’s been playing regularly and we think she’s going to come in in even better form, so we’re really excited about that.”
Isabel Gomez is Gemma Lewis’ ninth signing for the 2022-23 Liberty A-League season, joining fellow foundation players Lily Alfeld, Kate Taylor, Alyssa Whinham, Chloe Knott, Mackenzie Barry and Brianna Edwards, and Football Ferns recruits Betsy Hassett and Paige Satchell in the Wellington squad.