W-League: Jets midfielder Rhianna Pollicina is relishing her role with Newcastle

BREAKTHROUGH: Rhianna Pollicina is congratulated by Jets teammates after scoring at Latrobe City Stadium on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images
BREAKTHROUGH: Rhianna Pollicina is congratulated by Jets teammates after scoring at Latrobe City Stadium on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images

Former Abbotsbury resident Rhianna Pollicina had little time to celebrate her first W-League goal but the Jets midfielder believed it would provide confidence as she continued to establish herself in the competition.

The spectacular strike, which earned the league's goal of the round, came as Newcastle chased the game in a 4-2 loss to Melbourne Victory on Sunday. It closed the gap to 3-2 after the Jets trailed 3-0 at half-time.

Tara Andrews breathed life into the game with a 48th minute goal then Pollicina got on the end of a searching ball from right-back Tessa Tamplin and half-volleyed into the net from outside the 18-yard box in the 76th.

Instead of celebrating, the Jets playmaker sprinted to regather the ball for a quick restart.

"It felt good to get the goal but we were still one-down, so I had to go get the ball out of the net and just not even think about the fact I'd just scored," Pollicina told the Champion. "I just wanted to push for another."

They could not find another but the goal, created out of virtually nothing, was a positive take-away as sixth-placed Newcastle quickly turned their focus to a must-win clash with seventh-placed Melbourne City on the road on Saturday.

"It was a great assist," Pollicina said of Tamplin's pinpoint delivery. "She gave me one against Sydney but I couldn't control it. But she saw me run and I was screaming for the ball and she found me. It was the perfect ball.

"It might settle the nerves and help me be more composed in front of goals. I think I just needed to get that one."

The 24-year-old, who played a handful of matches for Western Sydney in 2014, returned to the W-League this season after a six-year absence and following a strong 2020 National Premier League NSW Women's campaign with APIA Leichhardt.

"I made my debut for Wanderers at 17 but I didn't really enjoy it as much," Pollicina said. "My junior years with football were so full on and I lost my love for the game around 17, 18, 19.

"I played a bit of futsal and then this year I had a really good NPL season and found I was loving the game again. [Jets coach] Ash [Wilson] called me for a trial and I thought, 'Yeh, I want to give it a go'."

The hard-working playmaker impressed Wilson enough to earn a contract and has started every match.

"The first goal for the season was just getting minutes under my belt, whether it be coming off the bench or starting," she said.

"The other goal was just being the best teammate I can be, whether that's on or off the field, and just listening to any advice I need to be that player for the team.

"I'm absolutely loving it and I play best when I'm loving my football. All the girls and the coaching staff have been great to make me feel confident and I'm absolutely loving Newcastle. The vibes here are so good. And that's what makes me play better."

The Jets travel to Melbourne on Friday and face City at Frank Holohan Reserve on Saturday. Both teams have four points. Newcastle have reached their season halfway point after playing six games while City have played seven.