The last-minute decision which led Smith to join Wanderers revolution
Western Sydney shot-stopper Abby Smith had never played outside of the USA before making an 11th-hour decision to join the Wanderers for the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign.
Now, after her stellar Round 1 debut, Smith is revelling in her choice to uproot from her home and head for Australia, just as so many of her American compatriots do each year.
“It just happened to be an opportunity that came to me at the last minute,” Smith told w-league.com.au
“I actually wanted to come and get some games and experience in the W-League because I’ve always heard great things about it.
“A lot of our girls from the NWSL end up coming over here to play, and it just happened to be an opportunity that came to me at the last minute.
“I talked to [Wanderers Head Coach] Dean Heffernan... and within the next couple of days I was on the flight, it was a very quick turnaround.”
Smith arrived in Western Sydney on November 7, but just one week later she produced a stellar performance in the Wanderers goal as they beat Adelaide 2-1 in the season-opener last Thursday night.
She hasn’t been at Wanderland for long, but Smith says it’s clear her new side are heading in a new direction under head coach Heffernan this season.
“When I got here it was seven days to get into the time zone and adjust to all the differences, so everyone made it super easy to transition,” Smith said.
“Dean (Heffernan) has made it very clear he wants to turn things around, so I think it’s really good we could pull off that win.
“Everyone has been pretty open about it, just being aware of the history which hasn’t been the best but it’s a new season.
“We’re going forward off that, that’s all we can focus on, we can only change one day at a time in front of us.
“If you’re focused on the past, you’re not really in the present.”
In her first Wanderers hit-out, Smith pulled off a string of fantastic saves. She stemmed the Reds’ scoring, which allowed her side to come from behind to score a late winner in a thrilling 2-1 affair.
Her standout performance in her first domestic game off American soil earned Smith a spot in w-league.com.au’s Team of the Week for Round 1.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the people in front of me,” Smith said.
“They made the game very easy, obviously I faced a limited amount of shots and that was solely based on the (players) in front of me.
“If they weren’t doing there job then it could have been a very different story.
“We worked so hard leading up to the first game, and every team just wants to get a result to start the season really well.”
With three points in the bag, Smith and the Wanderers can now look ahead to their clash with Newcastle Jets at Bankwest Stadium on Friday.
In the first ever Westfield W-League game at the new venue, Smith will look to back up her excellent debut performance with a similarly resolute shift in between the sticks for Heffernan’s side as they search for their second win in as many games.
“We went to the Matildas game when they played there,” Smith said.
“It’s beautiful, oh my gosh. When we were watching the game I was like ‘holy moly this is so nice’
“I think it will be nice to open up at Bankwest with the double header.
“I don’t know too much about (Newcastle). We’ve been focussing on ourselves and making ourselves better, and hammering down what we want to focus on going into this game.”
Western Sydney host Newcastle at Bankwest Stadium on Friday afternoon, 5:00pm AEDT.
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