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Wanderers look to make history in Cup

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Grace Wisnewski has experienced the highs of claiming a bronze medal at a FIFA event, but it would mean the world to her to help Hamilton Wanderers have a chance of lifting the NZ Football Foundation Kate Sheppard Cup.

The forward, who played a starring role in Leon Birnie’s New Zealand U-17 women’s team who made history last year in Uruguay, is hoping to lead Wanderers to victory over NRFL champions Eastern Suburbs in the semi-final of the knockout Cup competition tomorrow.

The 17-year-old, who will leave with the NZ U-20 women later this week for the OFC U-19 Championship, said the energy at training this week has lifted as they look to make the final for the first time.

"We are really excited about it, everyone cannot wait to play. This is the farthest we have gone in the Kate Sheppard Cup so we know it is a great opportunity," said Wisnewski.

"Obviously what we did last year in Uruguay was pretty special but to have a chance to win a title with your club is special [in its own way]. I have been with Hamilton Wanderers for three years now and every year it keeps getting better. For this team to take that one step further would mean so much."

Wanderers earned their place in the final four when they defeated Western Springs 2-0 in their quarterfinal at Porritt Stadium. Meanwhile Suburbs continued their fine run this season when they defeated Forrest Hill Milford United on penalties. The Lily Whites have been dominant in the NRFL Premier Women as they lost twice and claimed the title. Suburbs have made the final of the NZ Football Foundation Kate Sheppard Cup twice but never lifted the trophy.

"We know that Eastern Suburbs are a very talented team as we have all seen during the season in them taking out the league. We know that they will be a very hard team to break down but there is no reason why we cannot put up a fight and a good show. Everyone is up for the challenge."

Wisnewski, who famously scored twice in the first half of the bronze medal match of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup to defeat Canada, has been playing up front for Wanderers and is hoping to lead by example. She wants to give back to the club she loves being part of.

"I guess I do feel like I need to play my part in this team’s success but we also have leaders right across the field. I try my best but I also try to not put too much pressure on myself. I just want to enjoy it.

"Getting that one step further and into the final would mean a huge amount to us as players and to everyone at the club as well. It is such a good environment to be in. Trainings are fun but also challenging, It is a good bunch of girls for me to play with and the coaching staff are good people. I love it here."

In the back of her mind is the opportunity with the New Zealand team at the end of the week, but before that she wants to leave with her club team having a chance of glory in the Kate Sheppard Cup.

"I am really looking forward to the Cook Islands and that tournament but my focus right now is on this team and getting that win [tomorrow] to earn a place in the final would top it off. I hear that lots of the club

members are planning on coming down to watch so it should be a great day for the club. It is going to be a great environment to play in."

The first semi-final of the NZ Football Foundation will be played today with Wellington United hosting Coastal Spirit at 1pm in the capital.

NZ Football Foundation Kate Sheppard Cup Semi-Finals

Saturday 24 August

Wellington United vs Coastal Spirit

Newtown Park, 1pm

Sunday 25 August

Hamilton Wanderers vs Eastern Suburbs

Porritt Stadium, 2pm

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