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Aug 01, 2023   |  5:00PM AET

Vice-captain recommits to the Nix

Vice-captain recommits to the Nix

The Wellington Phoenix have kept hold of another of their talented young defenders.

Football Ferns training partner Kate Taylor has re-signed with the Phoenix for the 2023-24 Liberty A-League, following Mackenzie Barry and Marisa van der Meer in recommitting to the club.

Taylor, 19, is also the fourth foundation player to sign on for next season, joining Barry, Chloe Knott and Alyssa Whinham.

She was the women’s player of the year in the team’s first season while being vice-captain to Lily Alfeld, but was limited to 12 appearances in the 2022-23 campaign because of a foot injury.

“I want to challenge myself and play more football,” Taylor said. “Being injured last season and with Lily being injured as well, it was quite challenging to navigate the team.

“It was my first big professional injury. I think it really made me respect football, the environment and injuries.

“I truly think it made me a different person in good ways and bad ways, and I believe I learned a lot about myself.

“I’m ready to be consistent and play in the A-League in a team that I’m really looking forward to building and helping develop.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 11: Kate Taylor of Phoenix celebrates scoring a goal with team mates during the round 17 A-League Women’s match between Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, on March 11, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The ball playing centre back is also looking forward to working with new head coach Paul Temple and renewing her relationship with his assistant Callum Holmes.

“I want to have a new experience and be coached by a male and I think Paul and Callum will be a really good combination.

“Callum really understands me as a person and as a player. He challenged me in ways I haven’t been challenged before by a coach.

“We’re quite similar and in terms of football he got what I wanted and where I want to go. That’s why we worked so well together, so I’m looking forward to building on that.”

Phoenix assistant coach Callum Holmes (left) talks to Kate Taylor ahead of the Phoenix’s A-League match against Canberra United. Photo: Cam McIntosh/Photomac.

Kate Taylor took part in the Ferns’ gruelling nine-week training camp in the lead-up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup and was one of the squad’s three training partners during the tournament.

“It was an opportunity for me to grow. I forget that I’m young sometimes and I’m not 25 or 26 and reaching the peak of my career.

“It’s going to make me stronger in years to come and hopefully I can look back and say I’m really proud of what I’ve done.

“Hopefully I’ve helped the team achieve their goals and even achieved some of mine as well. I haven’t been stepping out on the pitch, but I’ve still been giving it my all no matter what.

“It’s been pretty awesome and I’m very grateful. I’d redo it in a heartbeat.”

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 26: Kate Taylor captain of the Phoenix at the round two A-League Women’s match between Wellington Phoenix and Western United at Sky Stadium, on November 26, 2022, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Masanori Udagawa/Getty Images)

Phoenix head coach Paul Temple says it was very important they brought Taylor back for another season.

“Kate is a young player with a lot of potential, but she’s also shown she’s a leader within the group,” Temple said.

“When you’ve got a young player that has all this potential as a footballer, but also is a great character and strong leader, it’s a no brainer to bring her back.

“I’m sure Kate will have big teams after her in the future. We want to help her achieve that potential and that will in turn help us, help her and the national team.”

Taylor has played predominantly as a centre back for the Nix, but she can also play in midfield.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – APRIL 01: Kate Taylor of the Phoenix passes the ball during the round 20 A-League Women’s match between Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory at Sky Stadium, on April 01, 2023, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Masanori Udagawa/Getty Images)

“I first saw Kate playing for Cashmere Tech years and years ago at an under-17 tournament in Auckland and she was playing as a six and I was asking Aaron Clapham, who was with the team at the time, ‘who is this girl playing for you in centre midfield?’.

“She really stood out for me, and I’ve always had it in my head she’s got the ability to play in different positions because she’s a really good technician, great passer of the ball, and has good vision, but she’s also defensively really sound.

“For her as a young player coming through and trying to take that final step and become a regular with the national team, to be able to play in different positions is going to help her.”

Kate Taylor is the eighth player confirmed in the Wellington Phoenix women’s squad for the 2023-24 season, joining fellow defenders Mackenzie Barry, Marisa van der Meer and Rebecca Lake, midfielders Chloe Knott and Alyssa Whinham and forwards Michaela Robertson and Emma Main.

The Phoenix women will begin pre-season training in September.