ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Western New York Flash front line is lightning fast – plain and simple. Throughout the season, the forwards have gradually progressed and really developed a solid connection with one another. Couple that speed with their growing momentum and they’re a force to be reckoned with.
Even though U.S. women’s national team forward Sydney Leroux is out for the rest of the season recovering from surgery on her right ankle, the Flash front line still has the capacity to shake up the opposing team’s defensive line – especially with the recent acquisition of Australian forward Michelle Heyman.
“When I heard the Flash were interested in me I just hands down had to go for it,” Heyman said. “Pretty much within four day of talking with them I was signing the papers and on my way here. It’s always something I’ve wanted to do [play in this league] and being here and training with the girls I’m just extremely happy and ready to grow as a player.”
Upon signing, Flash general manager and head coach Aaran Lines said, “Michelle coming in is going to enable us to vary things a little bit more tactically. She’s going to give us some experience in the final third of the field.”
And that she did as evidenced by her phenomenal debut against Sky Blue FC on July 19. In fact, her performance earned her the NWSL Week 14 Player of the Week honor. She scored in the 50th minute of the match when a ball from teammate Samantha Mewis landed right at her feet, enabling Heyman to blast the shot past Sky Blue goalkeeper Brittany Cameron. Heyman not only brought speed to the pitch, but a new dimension of tactical play.
“For my first game, I was just so happy to be out on the field” Heyman said. “I was trying to interact as best as I could and play my style of football, which is more controlling the ball in the final third and just more holding the ball up instead of just running.”
Heyman brings a different style of play and handling of the ball in the final third, which syncs well with forwards Jasmyne Spencer and Lynn Williams. The trio all played together in the Sky Blue match for the first time and showcased a solid, cohesive front – as if they have been playing together for years.
In her first week of training, Heyman noted it was a little difficult to get used to one another. However, after the match against Seattle Reigh FC, she noticed an immediate difference.
“When we played Seattle, I couldn’t go. So, I watched the game and how they played. I think just seeing them and watching them on the field helped me a lot because I got to study their style of play. And the following week at training everything just started working,” said Heyman when asked about training and playing alongside Spencer and Williams.
The trio is excited and eager to continue to build that strong chemistry on the front line, especially as playoffs inch closer. “We’ll focus on what we’re each good at and I think it’s only going to grow which is an amazing thing,” she said.
The Flash, however, have a tough hill to climb after Wednesday’s home loss to Portland. Western New York (4-7-3, 15 pts.) now sits in seventh place. If the Flash are to turn things around, Heyman will have to be a big part of that.
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