Michelle Verzi started her football career at the age of four growing up in New Jersey, USA. By age eleven she had joined the Universal Soccer Academy and was quickly a part of the New Jersey Olympic Development Program. Two ACL reconstructions wasn’t enough to discourage her from the game and she went on play College football at La Salle University in Philadelphia were she helped the team reach record breaking seasons.
In 2007 she was selected to play for the New Jersey Wildcats in the W-League, the then second tier of women’s soccer in the United States and Canada. It was here at the Trenton based outfit she first met Socrates Nicolaidis who was the head coach at the club in 2007 and 2008.
It was a few years later when Verzi moved to Australia that she made herself at home with long-time South Melbourne rivals, Heidelberg United. Verzi played six seasons at Olympic Village, serving as the club Captain in the last few seasons. Now in 2017 Verzi moves to Lakeside and reunites with coach Nicolaidis.
Talking to smfc.com.au, Verzi said “I’m really excited to play football again with Soc and happy to be a part of a new club environment. Everyone has been so welcoming, the facilities are tremendous and I’m looking forward to walking out on to Lakeside wearing a South jersey”
Julia Nicolaci is another strong player swapping the yellow Heidelberg jersey for South Melbourne blue this year. Nicolaci started her football at Eltham North before joining Heidelberg United at the age of 16. She has been a loyal stalwart serving at the club for 9 years growing into a crafty midfielder. In the inaugural WNPL season last year she started in 20 fixtures and scored 6 goals including a brace against the Senior NTC in Round 17. A win in the Team App Cup last year was also a highlight for 2016.
Nicolaci was recognised for her success on the pitch last season being listed in the The Corner Flag’s Team of the Season (Attacking Midfielders) where they said “while she somewhat flew under the radar this season, given her explosive 2015 campaign, Julia Nicolaci was still an incredibly important figure for Heidelberg United as she helped pull the strings from behind the strikers. American Leigh Gray was the biggest profiter from her work as Nicolaci combined beautifully to help her towards a 20 goal tally, while she herself grabbed a respectable six goals from midfield.”
Nicolaci told smfc.com.au “the introduction of the WNPL has taken women’s football in Victoria to the next level. Now with South Melbourne involved it’s a step up again. The way South integrates the women’s team with the men’s team gives you the feeling you are truly part of a family environment. I spent a long enjoyable time at Heidelberg and made some amazing friends. However the time was right for the change and I now have a fantastic opportunity here at South Melbourne.”
Head of Women’s Football Gabrielle Giuliano reflected on the value of the duo signing at South Melbourne saying “both Michelle and Julia will bring a tremendous amount of experience at the top of Victorian football. Their leadership and maturity will serve the team and the club well on and off the pitch. I have seen both play over the years and they have a positive style and the ability to stamp their authority on the game. I’m excited to see them on the pitch in 2017.