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Stoney aims to adjust San Diego Wave FC playing style in 2023

After setting very high bar in year one, she aims to evolve.

Brenton Tse

San Diego Wave FC are in the middle of their offseason following a shockingly successful debut season in 2022, but they are not resting on their laurels, announcing the signings of midfielder Danielle Colaprico and forward Rachel Hill as Free Agent additions for 2023 in recent days.

Wave FC head coach Casey Stoney spoke to reporters on Monday about the signings and preparations for the club’s second season.

“We were disappointed not to make the championship final. But I thought we competed really well. And it’s the same with any other club that I’ve been involved in, you have to evolve. You have to make sure that you strengthen and you have to make sure that your squad is ready to compete in the next season,” Stoney said.

Colaprico’s addition seems central to Stoney’s planned evolution, with the manager looking to make a change from a playing style that was extremely transitional in 2022.

“I think something that we’ve reviewed and learned is we’d like to possess the ball a lot more. I think we’ve got different ways of playing. I think we showed that last year. We can go round, we can go through, we can go over. I’d like us to possess the ball more. I think the way she plays and dictates the game and a passing game and her game awareness and understanding I think is something that will really add to our midfield,” Stoney explained.

“We also need to make sure that we value the ball a lot more because then it becomes this transition and when you’ve got the ball, the opposition can’t hurt you. So much of learning for me about my players, about the way we need to play within this league and but also the the appetite for growth here is phenomenal,” she added.

San Diego’s roster sits at 19 players at present, so there will be a handful of additions yet to come. Stoney would not identify specific positions the club was looking to address ahead of the season, which is slated to kick off on the weekend of Mar. 25, 2023, but specifically earmarked a quest for better depth and more experience on the roster.

On the addition of Hill, Stoney seemed to indicate the former Chicago Red Stars player fits that bill on both counts.

“I think she’s got extraordinary athleticism,” Stoney said. “I think she’s very adaptable as well. I think she’s obviously shown she can play right wing back and when we’ve flipped systems this year, she would be really versatile within that. I think she can play on the wing. So I think her athleticism, her experience. I’ve heard so much positives about her character. So bringing that into the environment too, she was just really key for us to add depth to our squad.”

In addition to the signings of Hill and Colaprico, Wave FC have re-signed two players this offseason, forward Makenzy Doniak and defender Kaleigh Riehl. Stoney paid tribute to both players on their work done in 2022.

“Two players that I can’t speak highly enough,” Stoney said. “Because Makenzy had a really tough preseason, got an injury, barely played and then I had really honest conversations with Makenzy, she wasn’t even in my top six strikers at one point and her attitude, desire, workrate, she ended up becoming my first player to come off the bench many times. She started games and she was very, very worthy of a renewal of a contract because of her mentality, in the way she’s contributed within games, I thought she changed games when she came on at times.

“And Kaleigh has been a standout for me, doesn’t matter when I’ve had to put her in games, where she started, when she’s come off the bench. She’s been so reliable and it’s because she’s such a keen learner. She’s a real football learner. She comes to every meeting with a book, she asked questions. She’s so coachable and her level of improvement from preseason to the end was incredible. And that’s all down to her,” she added.

Wave FC’s preseason will likely begin in late-January, but we’ll see how the roster is shaped in the meantime before training camp begins for 2023.

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