Victory import proving to be a Barnes-storming hit

American midfielder Lauren Barnes talks through her recent arrival in Australia, Westfield W-League experiences so far and her thoughts for Sunday’s Grand Final.

American midfielder Lauren Barnes has been a strong recent addition to the Melbourne Victory side in their charge to the Westfield W-League Grand Final.

An experienced former USA youth international, who was a central figure for Seattle Reign last season in the National Women-s Soccer League alongside fellow Victory star Jess Fishlock, Barnes arrived in Australia a few weeks back and immediately fitted seamlessly into the team.

Now having slotted the semi-final winner from the penalty spot against Sydney FC, the California-native is looking to help the Melburnians collect their maiden Westfield W-League crown as the star-studded Brisbane Roar visit Lakeside Stadium on Sunday.

It was a tough and intense contest against Sydney FC on Sunday that could have gone either way, how did you see it? I definitely thought both teams showed great fight. There were periods were both teams had control of the game at different stages. We knew it was going to be a battle so we were prepared for that.

How have you settled into the Melbourne Victory unit in a football sense? I have said this a lot before in interviews already but there is a family-orientated feel. There is energy and positiveness which makes it so easy to fit in with. Soccer-wise, (coach) Dave (Edmondson) and the team want to play, and a have a great style.

What about off the field? I love it. Melbourne is awesome. It has been such an easy transition for me. The weather is completely different to Seattle and Melbourne is much bigger I would say. I love being able to easily get to the beach and get around anywhere.

How do you compare the W-League to the NWSL back home in the United States? I definitely think it is up and coming (the Westfield W-League). There is some great talent in this league. I had heard about the league overseas. The level is definitely improving. Trainings are good, the games have been awesome. The physicality is there, the speed is there, the soccer-brain is there so it is has been perfect.

And you knew Victory midfield star Jess Fishlock from Seattle Reign? I played with her last season. She is always good to have on your team. Our break from season to season is a long one so I wanted to go overseas and I knew she had been here before which we had talked about. An opportunity came up and it has been a great opportunity.

Do you think more imports make a difference to the W-League? I always think different styles of soccer is always great to experience. In the American league we always have a bunch of internationals come over. It helps with experiencing different types of soccer and knowledge of the game. Soccer is played everywhere, but played differently everywhere.

Back to the Grand Final, how confident are you for the big game on Sunday? We just played them two weeks ago. Our focus now is just on ourselves and the team. Last week we had great preparation and I think we will go in with the same feel, excitement and positivity and I think we will do great.

You lost to Brisbane other week, does that dent the confidence a little? I don-t think it will dent our confidence at all. Both sides are great soccer teams, it will be a great game and it is a great match-up for both of us.

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