Stengel leads Wanderers charge from the front

American Katie Stengel is making every post a winner in her maiden season Down Under for Western Sydney Wanderers.

The tall striker, who is playing the No9 role with the Wanderers, has already contributed a couple of key goals for the club who are continuing to push for an unlikely finals spot.

Fellow American Kendall Fletcher scored a double on Sunday as the Wanderers secured one of the greatest results in Westfield W-League history – a 2-1 win over champions Melbourne City.

But a few weeks back it was Stengel who scored a last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw against Melbourne Victory, and also netting in a 2-1 win over Adelaide United.

Those results leave the Wanderers five points off the semis at the halfway point of the season, and with a crucial derby against Sydney FC looming.

For Stengel the off-season in Australia has been a dream opportunity, both on and off the field.

“It has been amazing so far, it has been really great and I have no complaints at all,” Stengel said.

“It is great for us to come over in the off-season and get in some games and training.

“It is always good to play with new players and see a different style of play. It is also good to play with younger players who have this energy that you kind of lose when you get older. You can learn something from playing with anybody.

“I think we have a great group, and it has been great fun to play with these girls.”

Stengel, like several in the Westfield W-League over the years, plies her trade with Washington Spirit in America’s NWSL. She has even had a call-up to the USA senior squad back in 2014, thanks to former USA and Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni.

Stengel was also a member of the United States side which won the U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2012. That squad also included future stars such as Julie Johnston, Morgan Brian and current Perth Glory midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo.

More recently, Stengel had a season with German big-guns Bayern Munich, where she top-scored for the team on their way to the title.

Few Americans try their luck in Europe, preferring to play in the NWSL, but Stengel says her time in Germany was a richly rewarding earning experience.

“It was a whole different cultural experience,” she says. “We had players from so many countries, and it was nice to see all those different styles of play. It is nice to look back and see that I branched out and tried something new. I came away with a bunch of new friends and some great experiences.

“It was a huge challenge. I went over as a nobody. Going over by myself I developed completely as a player and as a person. It was different, but it definitely paid off in the long run.”