Mastrantonio to direct Perth's play | (Credit: Brett Klucznik)
Perth Glory take on Brisbane Roar in Week 5 of the Westfield W-League. In all aspects it’s a big game for the girls in purple as they look to get their season back on track and take down the defending champions. If they are to do both, its fairly certain that midfielder Ella Mastrantonio will have played a large role.
The 19 year old holding midfielder has returned to play for her home state after being an instrumental component of Melbourne Victory’s march to their first finals series.
“So far it's good,” Mastrantonio says of her return to Perth.
“I had a really good season last year with Melbourne and I had a consistent season so I wanted to come back home.”
“I definitely feel as if I have made the right decision for this year as I am quite enjoying it.”
Like many players, Mastrantonio burst onto the national scene at a young age debuting for the national team at just 16. It was a meteoric rise but unsurprising when her football background is examined.
The midfielder started out with Fremantle Spirit in Western Australia where current Assistant National Technical Director Alistair Edwards spotted her.
“In terms of coaches, the big one and the mentor in my life has probably been Alistair Edwards,” she said.
“Ever since I played against his sons in U12s, when I played for Fremantle City, he took under wing.”
“Even though he doesn't coach me still, we still catch up and sometimes he even takes me and Lisa De Vanna and Mariana Tabain for little sessions when he is available.”
With that support it wasn’t long before Mastrantonio was on the path to the national team. After thriving in the National Training Centre program, the teenager was rewarded with more than a dozen caps at Young Matildas level before being called up for her senior debut. A second half substitute against Japan at the 2008 Asian Cup, half a dozen caps followed before, like those others, she fell off the national team radar.
That hasn’t deterred Mastrantonio, and through the W-League, she has an opportunity to remind the coaching staff of her abilities. Possessing good vision and with the passing range to compliment it, watching her reminds you of another West Australian, Matildas Vice Captain Collette McCallum. Its understandable when you consider she admires and has molded her game on MCallum and Spanish duo Xavi Hernandez and Andrés Iniesta.
“I find I have a lot of joy in that position [holding midfielder].”
“I love being on the ball and linking up with players and putting balls through for people heading on goal.”
“It would have been great to play alongside Collette because she is pretty much my idol for my position as she is one of the best players in the world.”
“It's disappointing that she is not with us this year but it's also good in a way as it has given me an opportunity and opened up a door for me and others like Shannon May and Jaymee Gibbons.”
The Brisbane Roar present the next big task for the Glory but playing the defending champions won’t faze them. Although Perth possess talented young, home grown talent, they will be looking to their experienced players to battle the Roar.
New Glory coach Jamie Harnwell will be looking to Katie Holtham, Emma Kete, new recruit Norwegian Lisa-Marie Woods and Mastrantonio herself to lead a relatively inexperienced team. Mastrantonio is one player ready for the challenge
“We are going to try and stay really focused and not let any silly defensive errors stuff our game.”
“We will see how go and hopefully we do get a win.