Wellington Phoenix defender Marisa van der Meer has suffered a season-ending injury while on international duty with the Football Ferns.
Scans have confirmed the centre back ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee while warming up for New Zealand’s friendly international against Colombia in Bogatá on Sunday.
Van der Meer (21), who was set to make her Ferns debut in Colombia, faces nine to 12 months of rehabilitation.
Main photo: Marisa van der Meer … called into the full New Zealand squad for the Colombian games. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
“It’s heartbreaking for Marisa,” Phoenix head coach Paul Temple said.
“When you get that kind of news the first thing you’re thinking about is the player and how gutting it is and how distraught she must be.
“Marisa’s been so good this season and really deserved this Ferns call-up. For it to happen at that point while she is away from the country and her family and friends is gut-wrenching.”
Van der Meer has played every minute of the Phoenix season to date as the women have made their best-ever start to a campaign, winning four of their first six matches to sit third on the ladder.
“First thoughts are about her, and then suddenly you think ‘oh wow this is another huge blow to the team’ losing a player like Marisa for the rest of the season,” Temple said.
“It presents a lot of big challenges for the group and the team when you’re losing players like Marisa for the season.
“But the most important thing is Marisa at the moment and making sure she’s okay and we give her the support and care that she needs now for her rehab and the next stages of what she’s going to go through.”
Second Phoenix player to suffer ACL rupture this season
The injury blow comes just four weeks after fellow Ferns midfielder Grace Wisnewski ruptured the ACL in her left knee.
Wisnewski will have surgery on Thursday.
“If there is any silver lining to this, it’s that Marisa and Wiz are going to be able to go through this journey together and have each other to get through the tougher days.
“They’re both on a similar rehab route now in terms of timing so that’s one thing that could be a positive for both of them, having someone else in the environment that knows exactly what they’re going through.
“Marisa is such a great person, and we really want her and Wiz around the environment. They can still contribute to this team for the rest of the season because of the positive influence they can have on the group.”
Game to be played on Wednesday December 6, 2023
Colombia v New Zealand
Estadio Metropolitano de Techo, Bogotá, Colombia, 9am (NZT)