FA WSL 2 club-by-club season preview: Tottenham Hotspur
Captain and defender Jenna Schillaci looks ahead to Spurs upcoming debut 2017-18 season
Tottenham Hotspur Ladies are gearing up for their first-ever season in the FA Women’s Super League following a glorious 2016-17.
Spurs ascended as the queens of the FA Women’s Premier League after comprehensively beating Blackburn Rovers in a promotion showdown at the Valley in May, earning a shot at the big time.
Long-serving captain and defender Jenna Schillaci talks us through how Spurs are gearing up ahead of their FAWSL bow.
2016-17 in a nutshell
Schillaci and co were irrepressible in the FA WPL Southern Division last term, clinching the title in front of more than 2,000 supporters at White Hart Lane with a 4-0 win over West Ham United on April 19 – they were also unbeaten at the time.
Spurs, who also won the league cup and were named FAWPL Club of the Year at last week’s FA Women’s Football Awards, went on to take on Northern Division champions Blackburn Rovers in a promotion play-off at the Valley in May and promptly romped to a 3-0 triumph.
Schillaci says that seeds were already being sewn for the future last term.
“Last season, we changed a lot of our training because the aim was to get to the Super League,” said the centre-back, who can also play at left-back.
“We adapted out training last season so that when it did come to it, we were prepared, so not much has changed in terms of training-loads.
“I just think our fitness levels are up there. Mentally, last season, we nailed it – we had a lot of high-pressure matches.”
As they look to find their feet in FA WSL 2, Spurs will have to contend with a level of competition hugely more unforgiving than they have regularly faced before.
Schillaci believes the physical exertions of her side’s new league will provide the biggest culture shock but says that she and her teammates have put in the hard yards to be prepared for whatever is thrown at them.
“We’re working a lot more on or physicality because we know it’s going to be a lot tougher out there on the pitch, so we’ve upped our gym sessions, we’ve brought in some new players, some new coaches; everyone’s gelling really well – so far, so good,” said the 33-year-old.
“It’s been a long journey for most of us. We’ve had a core group of players that have been at the club for over five years, so it’s been a journey we’ve been on together.
“Cementing our name in the WSL 2 is what we’re aiming for.”
Ins and Outs
Spurs bolstered their firepower with the signing of striker Sarah Wiltshire in July.
The 26-year-old scored 27 goals in 45 WSL games for Yeovil Town, helping them win promotion from the FA WSL 2 in 2016, but took a temporary break from the game to have her first child.
The Welsh international, who has also had spells with Arsenal, Manchester City and Watford, has scored six goals so far in summer friendlies.
“Sarah has slotted in. She’s been banging in goals all pre-season, so I’m really excited to see her play,” said Schillaci.
Karen Hills has been in charge of Spurs for nearly a decade and, like her club, was honoured at the FA Women’s Football Awards, being named FA WPL Manager of the Year.
As a player, she helped Charlton Athletic beat Everton to win the 2005 SSE FA Women’s Cup and she has taken Tottenham all the way up to FA WSL 2 from the FA WEPL South East Division One.
Bright young thing
Winger Lauren Pickett, 19, scored all three goals during her first appearance in a Spurs shirt in August, a 3-1 win over an ex-England All Stars side in the FAWPL Charity Trophy.
Pickett was signed from Chelsea’s development side.
Schillaci said: “She scored a hat-trick on her debut, so she’s another exciting young player.”
“Last season, every game for us was a cup final because every point was important and going forward, the coach has already stated that it’s going to be exactly the same this season.
“Each week, we were building up for a cup final at the weekend. It worked for us last season – hopefully, if everyone’s in the same frame of mind, it will work for us this season.”
Spurs kick off their FA WSL 2 campaign away to Durham on Sunday, September 24.
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