[dropcap size=small]A[/dropcap] recap of the action in the Westfield W-League, featuring the back story to the games, the players who made the difference, team of the week, and a look ahead to the match ups you don’t want to miss from Rachael Caldwell.
Adelaide United 0 – 5 Sydney FC (Bolger 23’ 52’, Rollason 27’, Price 67’, Spencer 90’)
The Narrative: If you were concerned that Sydney’s offense was beginning to sputter after their shutout loss last week, I can assure you it’s running just fine. A great bounce back win by Sydney keeps them in the playoff conversation and could suggest that they are hitting their stride at just the right time. While the premiership is no longer up for grabs, home field in the other semifinal is very much in the air and this week’s comeback win puts Sydney right in the conversation as they seemingly have been from the very start of the season. They’ve got a huge match with Perth next and Adelaide faces Western Sydney.
The Player: She doesn’t just score goals folks, she sets them up as well. Spencer’s stoppage time goal was just an added bonus for Sydney, as the game had already been won. But the forward was instrumental all game long, setting up Bolger’s first goal of the match to get things going and then assisting Price to lock up an important three points for Sydney. Spencer’s revelation of a season has been a huge key for Sydney’s success, and if she can close out the season strong so can the Sky Blues.
Worth A Shout: Nicola Bolger put in a total performance for Sydney this past weekend. She didn’t play the full 90, but her effort throughout the match was excellent. Her brace was a direct result of her excellent off the ball movement and she put a lot of pressure on the Adelaide defense. If she can emerge as a consistent second option to Spencer as the season winds down, Sydney will be dangerous.
The Narrative: Points were at a premium in this game and neither side will be happy to be leaving with only one point. Canberra is still safely in playoff position, but they are tied with three other squads and nothing is guaranteed in the final weeks of the regular season. The tie keeps Newcastle close but they’re still on the outside looking in of the semifinals at this point. Their fate may still be in their hands, but it’s slowly slipping away every time they drop points. There was a lot of pressure on both team’s in this game, but neither team looked stiff in this entertaining match. Newcastle visits Melbourne next and Canberra heads to Brisbane.
The Player: Ashleigh Sykes hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency for Canberra this season, which in a way symbolizes exactly what Canberra’s problem has been during this up and down this season. Despite this, when Sykes is on, she is very good at what she does. In this game Sykes both set up and finished a goal of her own, doing her best to earn her side the full three points. To be fair, in most matches a goal scored in the 87th minute holds up to be the game winner.
Worth A Shout: No goals for Emily van Egmond in this one, but her presence was felt throughout the entire match. She’s been a huge leader for Newcastle this season, and she was a part of the buildup for Salem’s early goal. Van Egmond also pitched in defensively, getting back to stop breaks despite trying to get forward and create chances.
Perth Glory 5 (Kerr 17’ 35’, McCallum 39’, Tabain 59’, Gill 87’) – 0 Western Sydney Wanderers
The Narrative: Ladies and gentlemen, your regular season champions: Perth Glory. Perth put together an amazing regular season, and winning the premiership with games to spare is always an impressive feat no matter how you look at it. Their offense has been a highlight reel all season, and defensively there have been some lapses but they’ve been more than adequate. With home field locked up, Perth can coast to close out the regular season and perhaps rest up few key players. They’ll face off against Sydney next week, and Western Sydney plays Adelaide.
The Player: All five goals for Perth could have easily come from the foot of Sam Kerr, but I suppose she’ll make due with a brace and a trophy. There have been some head scratching performances by Kerr this season but this was not one of them. Finding herself in behind the defense Kerr scored two very excellent goals, and put herself in positions to score all game long. Kerr also created chances for her teammates, getting the assist on Tabain’s goal.
Worth A Shout: Kate Gill has played for Perth since 2009. Gill was a part of the squad that was just two points away from being Premiers in the 2012-2013 season, and even before that Gill was on the Newcastle Jets team that finished second on the ladder in the 08-09 season. Point is, Kate Gill has been close to winning the Premiership twice now, and its nice to see her success rewarded this time around.
The Narrative: What started out as a promising first half to the game for Brisbane, ended in their official elimination from the playoffs. Now its not like we were on the edge of our seats to see if Brisbane would make a triumphant comeback to the finals, their season in the cellar means this moment is by no means a surprise. It’s just that this was an absolutely brutal season for Brisbane, and giving up a comeback win to Melbourne just about sums it up. As for the hosts, the three points were huge for Melbourne, vaulting them into second. Up next, they face Newcastle, and Brisbane plays Canberra.
The Player: Christine Nairn is the W-League player of the week, so she must have done something right in this game. While she didn’t get the assist for Quigley’s tying goal, she essentially set it up, and was a bit of a midfield maestro all game long. Her vision on the field was on display, and her ability to slot a pass is just really something else. As we all know, Nairn can shoot a heck of a ball as well and her game winner was much deserved.
Worth A Shout: More than one player earns a shout this week, as I want to give some credit to Hayley Raso, Katrina Gorry, and Tameka Butt. I’m not sure how many times I can say this, I’m sure its already far too repetitive, but this was just a bad season for Brisbane. However, when this team did have good performances, these three were often at the core of it. Lots of talent here, lots to build on as well.
Team of the Week
I’m fairly confident that picking any team this week but the league winners would be treasonous. Considering they won the league before they even played their match this weekend almost makes it even more impressive for Perth. But then you consider their dominant shutout display against Western Sydney and realize they probably would have won it regardless of Canberra’s results. When Perth added a handful of stars over the off season, some questions about team chemistry certainly could have been raised, but Perth proved that wrong quickly and now look to the semifinals.
Next Week’s Game to Watch
Melbourne Victory vs Newcastle Jets
With the playoffs on the horizon, every match seems to hold an incredible amount of importance in these last few weeks and it can be hard to pick just one to focus in on. That being said, I think the most is at stake between Melbourne and Newcastle. If Melbourne can grab a win they can almost guarantee themselves a playoff spot. With a loss they could fall all the way to fourth, and just be one point ahead of Newcastle. As for the visitors, they’ve got to win if they want a realistic shot at making the semifinals and a loss could potentially see them staying home after a very promising regular season.