Lexie's living the dream

With Glory down two goals to Canberra United and less than five minutes of regular time left to play, debutant Lexie Moreno stepped up to a set-piece situation with real purpose.

Seconds later, her strike eluded the entire defence, along with her fellow teammates in the box, to bounce into the back of the net and give Perth a lifeline away from home.

The free-kick capped off a whirlwind 72 hours for the 16-year-old local product who only learned of  her selection in Bobby Despotovski’s squad for the trip to the capital on Thursday, then celebrated her first ever Westfield W-League appearance with a goal on Saturday afternoon.

“On Thursday I got a call from my Mum saying she’d just got a call from Bobby saying that I was in the travelling party to go to Canberra on the weekend,” the midfielder explained.

“I only really had 24 hours to let the news sink in that I was going to be travelling with the squad for the first time. I was ecstatic.”

For the past couple of seasons, Moreno has been training alongside the international and domestic stars such as Nikki Stanton and Sam Kerr, but never before had she flown interstate for a W-League match day.

“I was so excited, but I was ready to go because I’d been working hard during pre-season and I was waiting for an opportunity to come and when it finally did, I was really happy,” she said.

"I was hopeful that this season might be the one where I made my debut, but I didn’t think it would happen this quick to be honest. However, I’d been working hard and made sure that when the opportunity came that I’d be ready.
“I was so happy to be there in that environment. I was so grateful to have the opportunity to just travel with the team, but I was also determined to make the most of the chance when I was summoned from the bench.”

The scholarship player entered the fray in place of Nicola Bolger with Glory trailing 3-1 after 76 minutes and just over 10 minutes later she was on the scoresheet via what she described as a ‘poor cross’.

“When I first struck the ball, I thought I’d miss-hit it,” she recalled, “but when I saw it drop just before the penalty spot, I thought someone might be able to get a touch on it and then when Kim Carroll jumped over the ball and it went in, I was shocked.

"It was 3-2 now and after that I was honestly more worried about getting the ball back as quickly as possible and pushing for an equaliser. But I was stunned and it really didn’t hit me until the end of the game when everyone was coming up and congratulating me.”

It was a magical moment for the technically-gifted Perth girl and one that was made all the more special by the fact her mother was in the stands.

“It was a surreal and proud moment to make my debut and score,” she said. “It’s something I’ll never forget and I’m so glad Mum was there to share it with me.”

The match was a culmination of years of hard work for the Australian Youth international who developed her game within the National Training Centre program and under the tutelage of committed coaches, notably Elisa D’Ovidio and current Glory assistant, Jessine Bonzas.

“Elisa helped prepare me from a young age and when I made the step up to the U19s, Jessine really helped me a lot,” she said.

"Her guidance and passion for the game is second to none. When I was going into training camps she’d always do extra sessions to make sure I was prepared and ready to go. I can’t thank her enough.”

Bonzas herself, meanwhile, was delighted for the youngster, stating “you’re looking at the future.”

“It’s lovely to see a young WA player that’s come through the system to get their first Glory cap,” she continued.

“It highlights that there is a pathway in place and that it’s working to create professional footballers. I’ve been coaching Lexie since she was around 14, so it’s been great to see her progress. She’s been identified at the NTC Challenge and FFA Tournaments as a real talent and over the past six months, she’s gone from strength to strength.”

In addition to Bonzas’ influence, Moreno also praised the help she has received from the experienced players within the Glory group.

“I think having the likes of Sam Kerr and Rachel Hill around has been fantastic,” she said. “They help the younger players a lot, not just on the field, but off the field as well to develop as a pro.”

After a debut to remember, Moreno is now determined to build upon her breakthrough moment and push on to become a regular on the teamsheet.

“I’ve got to keep working hard and hopefully make more game day squads this season," she said.

Glory’s Westfield W-League side return to action on Friday afternoon when they face Western Sydney Wanderers at  Marconi Stadium from 1:30 PM (AWST).

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