Warners Bay have pulled off possibly the coup of the season with the addition of retired National Women's Soccer League strike weapon Jen Hoy as Herald Women's Premier League gets set to resume this Sunday.
The 29-year-old American, who played a season with the Newcastle Jets in the 2016-17 W-League, announced her retirement from professional soccer in February after over 100 appearances in the NWSL.
Hoy played for the Chicago Red Stars between 2013 and 2017 before two seasons with Sky Blue FC. In September, after making her 100th NWSL appearance, Hoy told media she felt in peak condition.
Warners Bay coach Craig Atkins told the Newcastle Herald on Wednesday he was hopeful Hoy would be able to make her first appearance for the Panthers when they host Newcastle Olympic on Sunday.
"It's absolutely fantastic news for us," Atkins said. "She's registered and all of that, we've just got to wait on an international clearance now.
"She trained with us last night for the first time and looked quite sharp. She definitely hasn't lost any fitness.
"I think it's going to be fantastic for all of us, myself included. It will be great to tap into her knowledge and experience and expertise as well because this is a player that has played at a high level. To get someone like that to come in is not just good for one club, it's good for the whole competition."
Hoy is now based in Newcastle and the link to Warners Bay came through former Jets teammate Cassidy Davis, who played the past four seasons with the Panthers before joining Manly in NSW National Premier League Women's this year.
"Jen lives around Warners Bay," Atkins said. "Cass got in contact with her and had said if you're keen for a kick let me know and I can tee something up with the club for you.
"We had some discussions with her and she came down and watched a bit of our trial game on Sunday and said she was keen to play. So we got her registered and now we're just waiting for this clearance. Fingers crossed we get it before this weekend."
Warners Bay opened their season with a 2-1 win over Mid Coast before the WPL was suspended in March due to the coronavirus crisis. Their first-round match against Broadmeadow was postponed and will now be played on July 22.
The WPL has been reduced from 21 rounds to 14, inclusive of two rounds already played, plus finals.
Hoy, who scored five goals in 12 appearances for the Jets, will add plenty of punch to the Panthers attack and should form a lethal link with key midfielder Elodie Dagg.
"We're just trying to get Jen across the line first but she'll definitely come straight in, there's no doubt about that," Atkins said. "She'll be in the final third somewhere and there's a number of options there that I will have to look at."
Atkins was happy with how his side came from behind to beat Magic 5-4 in a trial game last Sunday and expected their clash with Olympic at John Street Oval to be a good test.
"It was good for the girls to get rid of the cobwebs and have a tough game against an opponent that will probably be up there at the end of the year," he said.
"It was one of those games where we were down 2-0 after 10 then down 4-2 as well, so the character they showed to get themselves back in the game on a number of occasions was really positive.
"Although it was a trial game, I said to the girls on the weekend that the competition starts now. We wanted to go out there with that mentality that we're here to win the game and the character and the mentality they showed on the weekend were great signs. Hopefully we can continue that."
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