The Wellington Phoenix have moved quickly to replace experienced Australian fullback Talitha Kramer.
The Phoenix have signed Junior Football Ferns defender Marisa van der Meer for the 2022-23 Liberty A-League season.
Van der Meer, 20, started all three of New Zealand’s matches at the recent FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica, after making nine substitute appearances for Melbourne City last season.
Kramer, who featured 12 times for the Nix in their inaugural season, has joined Brisbane Roar for the upcoming campaign after being unable to make the move to Wellington due to work commitments.
The majority of her appearances for the Phoenix came at left back, where van der Meer has played for New Zealand at both under-17 and under-20 level.
“I think the league didn’t get to see what Marisa has to offer last season,” Phoenix and Junior Football Ferns head coach Gemma Lewis said.
“She did really, really well for us at an under-20s level competing against world class forwards and holding her own.
“That showed us that she will be able to compete at this level, she just needs to be given the opportunity.
“We’re really excited to be able to harness that a bit more and give her those opportunities to push forward.”
Van der Meer committed to Melbourne City last year before the Phoenix women’s team was established.
“It was difficult,” she said. “I remember when it was all happening, we weren’t sure the Phoenix were going to be in the league.
“It was quite hard. I didn’t know what decision to make. I ended up going to Melbourne City and it was a good experience to have.
“Obviously I always wanted to play for the Phoenix and be at home in New Zealand. I’m super excited to play my second season in the A-League for the Wellington Phoenix.”
The physiotherapy student wants to be a regular member of the Nix starting XI, having been limited to appearances off the bench for City.
“I hope I can play a bigger role in the Phoenix and get a bit more game time than I did at Melbourne City.
“I’ve gained so much experience from being at City, being in the Ferns squad and playing under-17s and under-20s, now I just want to put it all on the field and play.”
As well as representing New Zealand at age-group level, van der Meer was part of the Football Ferns squad that attended the Tokyo Olympics.
“I’m super grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given.
“They were good experiences to gain playing on the international stage and being involved in the Olympics with the Football Ferns was really good learning and helped me as a player.”
She hopes the Phoenix can be a springboard to her securing selection in the Ferns squad for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“That’s definitely the goal,” van der Meer said.
“I’m trying to focus on playing more for the Phoenix. Getting game time so I can get recognised and play for the Football Ferns.
“That’s the goal and I’m going to keep aiming for that.”
Marisa van der Meer is the Wellington Phoenix’s 12th signing for the 2022-23 Liberty A-League season, joining Football Ferns recruits Betsy Hassett and Paige Satchell and foundation players Lily Alfeld, Kate Taylor, Alyssa Whinham, Chloe Knott, Mackenzie Barry, Grace Wisnewski, Isabel Gomez, Zoe McMeeken and Brianna Edwards in the Nix squad.