Two weeks after the conclusion of the NWSL season, many players were hashing out offseason vacation plans but that couldn’t be said for Seattle Reign FC midfielder Jess Fishlock.
The 28-year-old was Scotland-bound with loans to Glasgow and Melbourne, Australia, worked out well in advance in preparation for what she was getting herself into.
“The transition to Glasgow was actually toughm” Fishlock said. “I found life after Seattle a little bit strange, my routine was gone and I was joining a team that had been through the majority of their season already.”
The loan to Glasgow was signed with due to her need to be playing close to home for the Welsh International’s first wave of World Cup Qualifying matches.
At the time of her arrival Glasgow was atop the league’s table and was well on their way to winning the league and the Scottish Cup.
“From what I saw on a day-to-day basis, the girls deserved nothing but their treble, and it was a pleasure to play a part in it all,” Fishlock said.
The brief stint also gave Fishlock the opportunity to play in the Champions League when Glasgow was paired against in Arsenal and Belgium side Standard Femina de Liège.
“I’ve played in the Champions League a number of times and it’s always an experience that you can’t really describe,” Fishlock said. “When you’re walking out to the music, it’s possibly one of the best feelings you’ll get.”
Leaving behind all the success and new experiences she cultivated in Glasgow, the midfielder was headed to Australia for her second stint as a member of the Melbourne Victory.
The trip back to Melbourne was important to Fishlock. In her first stint, her status as a guest player only allowed her eligible to play in 6 games for the Victory.
Nonetheless, she had an immense impact on the club and as the season progressed, Fishlock watched from afar as Melbourne made it to their first W-League Grand Final.
The outcome wasn’t what she hoped for as Sydney FC trounced the Victory 3-1 for its second Westfield W-League championship.
“I felt I had unfinished business from last year and felt helpless after our loss in last year’s Grand Final,” Fishlock said.
Melbourne’s roster was much improved in preparation for the 13-14 season with new additions of Australian, Swedish and New Zealand International players Lisa DeVanna, Jessica Samuelsson and Katie Hoyle respectively.
The season also marked the beginning of Dave Edmonson’s tenure as head coach.
“The team and the squad was different and felt a little more structured, which I enjoyed,” Fishlock said.
De Vanna’s superb speed and goalscoring prowess was a trademark throughout the season as she finished second in W-League scoring tallying seven goals.
Fishlock’s Seattle Reign teammate Lauren Barnes joined Melbourne late in the season as a guest player and proved crucial during the club’s championship run.
In the semifinal against Sydney, Fishlock made the most of her opportunity to avenge last season’s Grand Finals lost, scoring the game’s opening goal. In a hard fought 3-2 finish, Barnes proved to be the difference and added the game winner from the penalty spot.
“Winning the semifinal against Sydney was an amazing feeling, Melbourne has history with them so to beat them in the manner that we did, was great,” Fishlock said.
Fishlock’s dynamic play was accounted for again assisting DeVanna for the opening goal in the Grand Final. Barnes added a second goal to help the Victory pull away to a 2-0 win over Brisbane.
To add to her redemption, Fishlock was named the Grand Final’s Most Valuable Player.
“The best feeling was winning the Grand Final against Brisbane, we made a lot of history and it’s something that will always stay with me,” Fishlock said. “I went there to win the league and I’m so pleased that we were able to do that.”
Fishlock arrived back and ready for preseason in Seattle just days after lifting the W-League Crown. The midfielder notes she doesn’t feel any wear and tear after playing 26 matches since September.
“For the most part it’s just about managing myself and I feel like I’ve done that well,” Fishlock said. “There’s been times when I’ve relaxed and tapered my weeks and times where I’ve worked really hard to peak at the right times.”
She’s also been aware of burn out, but has been closely monitored by the Reign’s staff
during the course of the off season to ensure the NWSL Best XI player comes back fresh and firing.
“I feel my body is back in a good place and I feel I’ve added to my game going forward and I’ve gained some confidence in that area,” Fishlock said. “I just had a lot of fun getting higher up the pitch and so that’s always nice.”
“I’d describe my offseason as busy, fun, important and successful,” Fishlock said. “As Americans would say… I’m super excited for 2014.”