Today is Sydney FC’s attacking midfielder, Mackenzie Hawkesby. The Skye Blues playmaker has been lighting up the A-League Women this year. In her exclusive interview she discussed her club, her teammates and finding her position.
Sky Blues’ Mackenzie Hawkesby
- Mackenzie Hawkesby has been a driving force in Sydney FC’s season
- The midfielder has scored five goals so far this season
- She and others have stepped up in the absence of Theresa Polias and Clare Wheeler
More A-League Women’s news can be found on The Women’s Game.
Sydney FC’s 2020/21 campaign yielded a top of the table finish. It was a similarly dominant one to this season’s, but it was built on the midfield duo of club legend Theresa Polias and current Matilda Clare Wheeler.
With those two pillars of the teams success departing, there were questions marks over the midfield. Along with Taylor Ray, Rachel Lowe and Sarah Hunter, Sydney recruited a formidable force for their 2021/21 season.
Cortnee Vine provides the electricity, Cote Rojas the style and Remy Siemsen the goals, but it is the Woolongong born star stepped up to help fill a vital role this season.
Mackenzie Hawkesby is the playmaker, the key component to their imperious season to date. She has ensured that Sydney were able to continue setting the pace in the regular season.
It was a challenge that Hawkesby was ready for.
“Obviously I knew that ‘T’ and ‘Wheels’ were a huge loss, so I knew that I had to step up in a way,” she said to The Women’s Game.
“Not try and fill their void because they’re amazing players, I knew I had it in me with some other player… I knew we had a job to do, and we’ve done it pretty well so far.”
It is a modest summation of the season they have enjoyed. After nine matches played, Sydney FC had conceded just once and scored 28 times.
Hawkesby’s performances were vital early on in the season. Her ability to link the midfield and attack was matched by her defensive running. Eventually the goals followed with a hattrick against Wellington Phoenix being a particular highlight.
“Ante always give us a lot of freedom in attack,” she says of her role this season.
“I always love to push forward, I never felt I’d score five goals this season, but I knew I wanted to be a box to box midfielder, and help out in defence but also attack as well.
“That was something that I have tried to do this season a bit more than last season…. Something that I’ve tried to add to my game is some goals and I’m glad that I have this season.
“Ay Sydney FC we have a lot of quality players in attack and defence so it’s really fun to score some goals but also help out in defence as well.”
Those quality players have rotated over the course of the year. Siemsen and Vine were scoring almost at will in the opening rounds. When the pair were called to Matildas duty, Rojas and Paige Satchell came into the squad.
It was obvious to observers that Sydney FC had not missed a beat with a new look attack. As a player responsible for getting the ball to the front three, Hawkesby says the transition was seamless.
“It doesn’t really change much, the girls come in, they do their role.
“Every player’s different and have different qualities up top and it usually stays the same with Paige and Cote (Rojas).
“They’re really good players and we have a system at Sydney FC that we follow no matter the opposition. No matter who comes in they’ll do their job.”
Her willingness and physical ability to run up and down the field all afternoon is something that Hawkesby says was always present. The former cross-country runner has used that engine to run rampant in the A-League Women’s midfields.
“That’s always something I’ve been able to do. As time had gone on, I’ve been able to adapt my game into a high pressing number eight which is something that in the last two years had been something that’s been really important for me.
“I’ve come into my role and figured out which position I really am.”
It is also clear from watching her what type of player she wants to be. Hawkesby competes relentlessly and is constantly involved with or without the ball. That desire and drive was inspired from an unlikely source for a footballer.
“I look up to Serena Williams, I’ve always been a huge fan of hers.
I just admire her on and off the court. What she’s done is super inspiring and she’s relentless against whoever she plays.
“That’s something I’ve tried to get a bit of inspiration from. She works so hard and that’s something I’ve tried to implement in my game.
“Always be resilient and always fight for every single game.”
Hawkesby came into the sport almost by chance. Sydney FC and A-League fans have her older sister to thank for the goal scoring midfielder.
“My sister started playing and my mum just put me in as well. We weren’t really a huge football family, but I just followed whatever my sister did, and she put me in when I was about six years old.”
That family bond was visible in Round 5. The entire Hawkesby clan was on hand to witness Mackenzie’s three goal, player of the match performance in their hometown against Wellington Phoenix.
“I was really excited and looking forward to it because I’m from Wollongong…I didn’t know it was going to be such an enjoyable game.
“I don’t think I’ve ever scored a hattrick in my life. To score three goals at home with every single one of my family members around (was special)”
That game might be one of her favorite moments of the season so far, but both the player and her team hope to create more memories in finals.
Sydney FC are almost unassailable at the top of the table, the premiership is within their grasp and an undefeated season is a strong possibility. However, after losing the Grand Final in the final minute of extra time, there is one other trophy they really want to win.
“It’s something that’s in our sights at the moment.
“We take it take by game but definitely the grand final is something we want to get to and want to win.
“Obviously we’ve lost the last two so we’re very much looking forward to the next couple of weeks. We’ve got a big month ahead of us with a lot of important games, but the Grand Final is definitely a goal that we set.
“We don’t get too ahead of ourselves and take it game by game. But if we get there, we’ll be ready.”
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