Women secure second goalkeeper

Brianna Edwards has signed on for a second season with the Wellington Phoenix and is committed to challenging incumbent goalkeeper Lily Alfeld for the starting role.

The New Zealand U-20 ‘keeper has agreed to a new deal with the Phoenix for the 2022-23 Liberty A-League season, after serving as Alfeld’s back up in the team’s maiden campaign.

“We’re such good training partners,” Edwards said. “I push Lily and she pushes me, and we make sure we get the best out of each other every single session.

“As much as we’re friends, I think she knows this season I want to push for more and push to be better.

“It’s really exciting to have someone who also wants to see you do well. I think that’s something special that me and Lily have.”

Edwards holds dual citizenship and fills the first of seven Australian berths in the Phoenix squad. She’s looking forward to moving across the Tasman to pursue her football career.

“I’ve been over to New Zealand a couple of times this year for under-20 camps and I just love it there.

“It feels like a second home and I think it will feel even more like that when I’m back with the Nix. I can’t wait.

“I feel like I still have more to offer the Nix and there is still a lot I can get out of it. I love the culture, I love the players and I love being a part of the club.”

Wellington Phoenix women ‘keepers at training ahead of the 2021-22 A-League season.

The move has the support of her family, particularly her dad, who was born in New Zealand.

“My family has already talked about coming to the Phoenix’s opening game.

“I also have a lot of family in the North Island so I think everyone will be keen to get down to Wellington and watch.”

Edwards will also have support in the stands when she represents New Zealand at next month’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.

“My family is coming to Costa Rica to watch and they’ll be kitted out in full New Zealand gear, even my mum, which she’s a bit timid about.”

Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis says Edwards is a great team player and fitted in really well last season.

“We were really comfortable when Lily was away for international duty for Bri to step up and show what she can do,” Lewis said.

“We feel like it’s going to be a season for her to really push and challenge Lily and give a little bit more competition.

“Lily’s a great leader and a very good goalkeeper, but Bri’s been developing and pushing really hard. Ultimately they make each other better and we want Bri to keep pushing Lily.”

The Phoenix aren’t just looking at dual citizens to fill the Australian berths, with Lewis and assistant Natalie Lawrence travelling across the Tasman to look at potential players.

“We want to give Australian players the opportunity as well.

“We want to do what’s best for the team and we need to surround them with players that are really going to push them.

“In this respect Bri is that player and it’s a bonus that she’s a dual citizen. But ultimately we want to find good Aussies that can add value in our environment to really push this team forwards as well.”

Brianna Edwards is the Phoenix’s seventh signing for the 2022-23 Liberty A-League season, joining Alfeld, New Zealand U-20 team-mates Kate Taylor and Alyssa Whinham and Football Ferns squad members Betsy Hassett, Paige Satchell and Mackenzie Barry in the Nix squad that will assemble in Wellington in October.