The Australian women’s national team have announced a 15-player squad for their upcoming World Cup tournaments in Europe.
Head coach, Paul Oberman, has mustered a near-full strength side, with two-time Olympian, Zoe Arancini, captaining her country again, while there is a competitive return to the team for Tokyo Olympian, Elle Armit.
Australia find themselves in a tough group, alongside Greece, the Netherlands and Hungary. The first round of the women’s tournaments will take place from 11-13 April in Rotterdam, before heading to Athens for the second round, six days later (19-21 April).
Group A: Greece, Netherlands, Hungary, Australia
Group B: Spain, United States of America, Italy, China
The Stingers are strengthened by two of the best goal scorers in the Italian A1, with left-hander Abby Andrews, and sharp-shooter Alice Williams in the squad. Australia’s talisman, Bronte Halligan, continues to lead the team on the right-side.
Abby Andrews (SIS Roma) is the Italian League’s top goal-scorer with 49 goals. The league’s second top goal-scorer is fellow Aussie International, Alice Williams (Ekipe Orizzonte), on 46 goals.
Australia’s first choice keeper remains Gabi Palm (CE Mediterrani), while Charlize Andrews (Ethnikos) and Amy Ridge (Vouliagmeni) expectedly retain their spots after excellent seasons in Greece. Pascalle Casey, who also plays her water polo in Greece with Panionios, returns to the team after missing the World League Super Finals in November.
A key absentee includes centre-forward, Tilly Kearns, who has collegiate commitments in the US with the Southern California Trojans; Ruby Wadling (California Bears) and Jamie Oberman (Long Beach) are both not in the squad for the same reason. Sant Andreu’s Hayley Ballesty is not yet fully recovered from injury.
Historically, Australia have done pretty well at the World League, the World Cup’s de facto predecessor, with four silver and six bronze medals. However, it has now been eight years since Australia last reached the podium.
Sofia Pontre is poised to make her first competitive appearance for the Stingers after featuring in some of the January friendlies with the USA. Strong showings in the Australian league earn Sienna Hearn (Balmain Tigers), Tenealle Fasala (Queensland Thunder), and Brooke McLean (Drummoyne Devils) their places in the team.
Australia Squad for World Cup
Charlize Andrews (Ethnikos) , Abby Andrews (SIS Roma), Zoe Arancini (Freemantle Marlins), Elle Armit (Queensland Thunder), Pascalle Casey (Panionios GSS), Tenealle Fasala (Queensland Thunder), Bronte Halligan (Ekipe Orizzonte), Sienna Hearn ( Balmain Tigers), Bridget Leeson-Smith (Queensland Thunders), Genevieve Longman (Balmain Tigers), Brooke McLean (Drummoyne Devils), Gabriella Palm (CE Mediterrani), Sofie Pontre, Amy Ridge (Vouliagmeni), Alice Williams (Ekipe Orizzonte).
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