PRE-SEASON: The Western Pride Women are preparing for a big 2018 season.
PRE-SEASON: The Western Pride Women are preparing for a big 2018 season. Sophie Weatherby

New-look Pride Women building bonds

WESTERN Pride Women's coach Belinda Kitching is hoping her heavily-rebuilt side can forge strong relationships heading into a three-game trip to the Gold Coast this weekend.

Pride play National Premier League newcomers Mudgeeraba and Logan Lighting on the Australia Day long-weekend in a tournament covering all age-groups between U13s to Senior Women.

The squad will also play Gold Coast United during their trip.

Kitching said the tournament would act as a chance for the squads to get to know their teammates on and off the field.

"For us the trip is all about building up knowledge of each other within the squad leading into the first game of the season,” Kitching said.

"I want the girls to be confident in saying what our strengths and weaknesses are as a playing group.”

Kitching believes her side has met the goals she put in place despite losing recent pre-season friendlies to Mitchelton and Easts.

"About 80 percent of our squad is brand new,” Kitching said.

"We didn't win which is inevitable right now, but we set a realistic bar and reached it. Now the players know the level we expect.”

Kitching had promised a tortuous trial and training during the off-season as she looked to improve her squad.

This process resulted in 13 new faces joining the Pride including Olympic FC trio Zoe Lambi, Lucy Ibell and Ashleigh Amadio plus Madeline Hartwig from Sunshine Coast Fire.

Defenders Sasha Beaumont, Emma Barnes and Nakoya McLennan, midfielders Sophie Weatherby and Georgina Adnum, and attackers MacKenzie McAvoy and Lani McKenna are all which remain from Pride's 2017 squad.

Pride's biggest loss has been captain and star goalkeeper Kirsten Veeren who signing for Brisbane Roar's W-League side.

Ipswich City Bulls goalkeeper Holly Van Der Zee has been handed the opportunity to replace Veeren.

Kitching said despite the changes she was happy with how the squad was placed with the season kicking-off in a fortnight.

"The quality is there, it's just gaining that knowledge of each other and building combinations will take a bit of time,” Kitching said.

Western Pride begins their National Premier Leagues Women's season against SWQ Thunder at USQ Toara Park, Toowoomba, on February 4.

Angela Bacic



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