Victoria Merrick shields the ball in a recent friendly against NPL rivals Mitchelton.
Victoria Merrick shields the ball in a recent friendly against NPL rivals Mitchelton. Chris Simpson

New Pride pair reunite with Kitching

NEW Western Pride recruits Victoria Merrick and Ashley Commens celebrated their reunion with former mentor Belinda Kitching by scoring in Pride's 2-0 pre-season win against NPL rivals Logan Lightning on Saturday.

The defensive pair played under Kitching in 2013 at short-lived NPL side Wide Bay Revolution before continuing their development in the region's local league.

Merrick went on to spend three seasons continuing to play under Kitching at Hervey Bay's United Warriors, culminating with a 2016 Wide Bay League Grand Final appearance.

The 17-year old said she had long dreamt of testing herself against Brisbane sides at state level.

"I'm looking forward to the quality down here because I want to be able to make the next step and better my football,” Merrick said.

"It's pretty tough here but we just have to work that extra bit harder, especially coming from a rural area where we didn't have any pathways to the NPL.”

Merrick added she was excited to reunite with former Matilda Kitching, who played a huge role in her football development.

"I don't think I would be where I am today without Belinda,” Merrick said.

"A lot of her knowledge about the game has been really good and she has been able to pass on her experience onto us.”

Commens joins Pride from Bundaberg's United Park Eagles, where she spent several seasons competing against Kitching and Merrick in the Wide Bay League.

The 18-year old defender said the quality of Kitching's coaching shone through every time the two sides met.

"Belinda's sides were a lot more organised than us,” Commens said.

"I've only been playing at Pride for three weeks under her now and I've already learned so much.”

Commens said she was keen to develop as much as possible at Pride before moving to the US College system at the tail-end of the season.

"I'm moving to America to play soccer,” Commens said.

"I'm joining Pride to get as much experience under Kitch as I can before I head to America in August.”

Pride have also announced the signing of striker Kate Muscat from Mackay's Country United and former Greenbank junior Georgia Crawford from NPL rivals Souths.

In all, Kitching has added 13 new faces to her squad which will travel to Toowoomba to face SWQ Thunder in the opening round of the NPL season this Saturday.



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