Wiz recommits to the Nix

Grace Wisnewski is the eighth foundation player to re-sign with the Wellington Phoenix for the 2022-23 Liberty A-League season.

The young midfielder has agreed to a new one-year deal with the Nix, after being an integral member of the women’s side in their inaugural season.

Wisnewski, 20, played the full 90 minutes in each of the 11 matches she started.

She missed three games for mental health reasons, cutting short her season in Wollongong to return to New Zealand when the borders opened.

“If I think back six months ago I was unsure if I was going to play football again,” Wisnewski said.

“I would be lying if I told you the last six months have been easy, but it was a no brainer for me to sign with the Phoenix again.

“[Head coach] Gemma [Lewis] and [assistant] Nat [Lawrence] have been two people that have helped me a lot in the past six months so I’m so excited to work with them again and play for the club again.”

She feels her mental health is “100%” in a better place than what it was ahead of the Phoenix’s maiden season.

“I’ve worked a lot in the last six months or so on that. Like I said it hasn’t been easy, but it’s definitely been worth it and I’m in a lot better space at the moment.

“In a way I’m kind of glad of what happened last season. It was a big learning curve for me and I’m definitely in a better place now and I’m excited to get to the season.”

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 11: Chelsee Washington of United controls the ball during the round 11 A-League Women’s match between Canberra United and Wellington Phoenix at Viking Park, on February 11, 2022, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Wisnewski is fresh from representing New Zealand at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica. She started all three of the Junior Football Ferns’ group matches and scored their opening goal of the tournament.

“We’ve been back for a couple of weeks now and everyone is excited to get back into it and start training again.

“I know I’m excited to get back. I’m messaging Nat about kicking a ball because I get bored.”

She is also looking forward to training with new Football Ferns recruits Betsy Hassett and Paige Satchell and believes they will add the experience the team was lacking last season.

“It’s huge to be able to have the likes of Betsy and Paige in the team. To be able to play alongside them is an honour and to be able to learn from them will be huge.

“I think this team will definitely be able to compete in this league and show teams what we can do.”

Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis believes the extra competition in the squad will bring out the best in Wisnewski.

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 29: Wellington Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis speaks to the media during a Wellington Phoenix A-League Women Welcome to Country & Smoking Ceremony at Albert Butler Park on November 29, 2021 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“That’s really going to challenge her to lift her game and push herself forwards, but I also think she’ll push them,” Lewis said.

“She’s definitely got that about her and it’ll create a really competitive training environment and hopefully a really good atmosphere out on the field.”

Lewis also expects Wisnewski to continue to develop.

“She was massive for us in our first season. She was such an engine for us and her work-rate was outstanding.

“A lot of things she does you don’t notice in the first instance but when you watch it back you realise that she’s the one breaking up play, winning the ball back and creating opportunities for us.

“We saw that in the under-20s as well. She’s continuing to grow and develop and with everything she’s gone through over the past couple of years she’s coming out stronger and I’m really excited to see where her football goes.

“I think having another season with us will be really beneficial for her.”

Grace Wisnewski is the Wellington Phoenix’s 10th signing for the 2022-23 Liberty A-League season, joining fellow foundation players Lily Alfeld, Kate Taylor, Alyssa Whinham, Chloe Knott, Mackenzie Barry, Isabel Gomez and Brianna Edwards, and Football Ferns recruits Betsy Hassett and Paige Satchell in the Nix squad.