Midfielder Alexia Karrys-Stahl joins Canberra United with a wealth of NPL experience. (Photo: Capital Football/Supplied)

Returning to her original footballing home, Canberra United Academy graduate Alexia Karrys-Stahl couldn't imagine starting her A-League Women career anywhere else.

Canberra United’s top level pathway has continued its proud history of success, signing academy product Alexia Karrys-Stahl.

Karrys-Stahl joins United for the 2021/22 A-League Women season after growing up playing in Canberra with Gungahlin United and the Capital Football SAP Program.

She returns to the nation’s capital after spending time building her game in the NPL with both Northbridge FC and Sydney Olympic.

Playing (and training) alongside Sydney FC players including Teresa Polias, Angelique Hristodoulou and Mackenzie Hawkesby has given her additional perspective in what it means to be an elite level player.

“Growing up in Canberra… I had a training agreement with Canberra United,” Karrys-Stahl told media on Thursday.

“Getting to play with the older players and international players was really cool, and a really good experience.

“Moving up to Sydney really shaped who I was, sort of getting out of my comfort zone a bit more. Trying new things, not really knowing anyone either.

“It’s really helped shape me as a player.

“Being able to kickstart my first season with Canberra United was something I always wanted to do, so it’s great to be finally able to do that.”

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Injury has had its effect on Karrys-Stahl’s career, a knee injury hampering her 2020 campaign.

It spurred her on to get back better than ever though, leading to her most consistent season since 2018 and allowing the midfielder to score four goals across both reserves and seniors matches.

“Coming back from that, doing my rehab, I found this new level of motivation and determination to get back on the field,” she said.

“I missed playing so much. I was in the gym, doing my rehab, out on the field, and from there I carried on all the extras after training and in my free time.

“I’ve really dedicated a lot of time to working on myself as a player, and stepped out of my comfort zone to take more shots and take on more challenges.

“I’m hoping to [score in front of the Canberra fans]! I’d love to kickstart [the season] with a goal.”

The game plan comes together

With the Canberra squad now sitting at 14 players signed, a clear and identifiable game plan is beginning to shine through.

Coach Vicki Linton looks to be developing a team full of pace through the midfield and across the wings, with a variety of scoring options across the front two thirds.

Karrys-Stahl and fellow new signing Mikayla Vidmar are no strangers to hitting perfect long balls into goal, Holly Caspers is known for her blistering pace, while Allira Toby and Margot Robinne add the perfect mix of experience and strong finishing to support scoring machine Michelle Heyman.

Linton spoke on how she’ll look to balance both the offensive and defensive sides of United’s game.

“We’re continuing to build… I’m continuing to strengthen [the defence],” Linton said.

“Emma [Ilijoski] is 17 turning 18 and yet had an outstanding season last year. She was probably our most consistent player, coming from a train-on contract to the main squad.

“[She] didn’t miss a game once she started. She has such a level of maturity, it’s beyond her years.

“Lauren [Keir] has been around such a long time and has had a really consistent season. [We’re] trying to build around that… you’ll get the opportunity to see when that happens.

“It’s a real balancing act in recruiting. We always try and build towards our culture as well, that’s a real strength of ours. We’re able to provide an environment that brings the most out of players.

“Unity is a core value of ours, and that’s something that the squad displayed last year. The sum is greater than the individual parts.”

Canberra United will play its first game of the A-League Women season on Friday, December 3 against Melbourne City.

Confirmed signings: Michelle Heyman, Emma Ilijoski, Laura Hughes, Allira Toby, Grace Maher, Keeley Richards, Hayley Taylor-Young, Lauren Keir, Holly Caspers, Margot Robinne, Chloe Middleton, Beth Mason-Jones, Mikayla Vidmar, Alexia Karrys-Stahl.

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