W-League Opening Weekend In The Books

Get excited people!  The Westfield W-League is back in action for another fantastic season. Here’s a look at how things shook out in the first round.

Newcastle Jets 2 (Hannah Beard 5’, Tara Andrews 35’) – Perth Glory 5 (Katie Gill 1’, Collette McCallum 10’, Christina Julien 66’, Rosie Sutton 81’, Marianna Tabain 90’)

The Narrative: Despite their losses in the off-season, the Perth came out with a solid win to open up the season.  After losing Lisa de Vanna to the Melbourne Victory and losing Aivi Luik (their W-League player of the year) due to injury, the Glory had to look elsewhere for offense, and boy did they find it.  Different players scored each of the five goals. While the score line doesn’t suggest it, the game was actually pretty even from start to finish.  The Jets were able to tie things back up twice, and even had some nice chances in the second half but couldn’t capitalize. Considering all the changes Newcastle endured in the off-season, and the labeling of this year as a “development type season”, it wasn’t a bad start for the Jets.

The Player: There are several players that could be picked out of this match, but I’m going to go with Canadian international Christina Julien.  Another one of the W-League’s high profile debutants this season, Julien had a wonderful first goal of her Glory career.  It was a shot from range into the upper 90, and she also earned her first assist as she slotted in Sutton to help put the game away for Perth.  The former Rossiyanka player seems to be settling in well in Australia.

Worth A Shout: It’s pretty well-known that first year head coach of the Jets, Peter McGuiness, has his work cut out for him this season.  Considering the attitude of this team heading into the season could have been incredibly poor, first game out of the gate, McGuiness seems to have this team with the right mindset.  They battled hard in their opener and have shown they are willing to fight this season.

Brisbane Roar 0 – 3 Canberra United (Lindsey 8’, Heyman 38’ 49’)

The Narrative: During this rematch of the 2012 Grand Final, German international goalkeeper and soon to be NWSL player, Nadine Angerer’s W-League debut went worse than expected for the Brisbane Roar.  The reigning European player of the year and member on the shortlist for FIFA women’s player of the year allowed three goals, the giving the Roar their worst ever home defeat to a Canberra United team that did a lot of recruiting this off-season.  Canberra duo of Washington Spirit loanees, Lori Lindsey and Stephanie Ochs, made an impact right away with the club and showed they could be a dominant team this season.

The Player: The standout player from this match up is easily Michelle Heyman of Canberra United.  With a brace in Saturday’s game, Heyman looked like the W-League’s all-time goal scorer that she is.  To be fair, Heyman probably should have had a hat trick in this one, as Lori Lindsey’s opening goal was a rebound from Heyman’s shot that hit the post.  It was a fantastic start to the season for Heyman.

Worth A Shout: Tameka Butt came out firing on all cylinders on this game. Butt had several good chances for Brisbane throughout the game but she just couldn’t finish. That being said, her positioning on the field was solid. There were several chances where Butt was in on goal with a good chance to score and it was mostly to due with the fact she put herself in good positions for midfielders to serve her in behind the defense.

Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Catherine Cannuli 92’) – 1 Adelaide United (Alexandra Gummer 31’)

The Narrative: A second-year Wanderers squad, with lots of off-season additions, salvaged a point in their opener against United.  Adelaide held onto the lead for almost the entire game before giving up the equalizer in stoppage time. Considering Adelaide’s struggles over the past few seasons, two points would have been a fantastic start to the year.  The Wanderers sweated this one out but have to be happy not to drop points early, as they have big expectations for the season.  Even with the loss of Kyah Simon for the season due to injury, the Wanderers off-season pickups did well and they dominated possession for most of the game.

The Player: Catherine Cannuli was one of the main reasons this game didn’t end with Adelaide taking two points.  It seemed that Cannuli refused to take an opening loss as an option as she pushed offensively the whole game and got several good looks on goal.  A brace would have been fair for the forward, as she had an excellent volley that Melissa Barbieri was somehow able to tip away.  Her goal was a true testament to her no quit attitude in the game, as Adelaide’s defense failed to clear away a corner and Cannuli was right there in the chaos to send it home. 

Worth A Shout: Goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri is back in the game after taking the past year off for the birth of her first child.  Due to this, Barbieri wasn’t issued a contract from the Matildas, and a story broke last week that she was selling some of her memorabilia to play this season.  Bubs’ story is one of absolute inspiration, and it was great to see her out on the pitch once again. 

Melbourne Victory 1 (Checker 3’) – 5 Sydney FC (Khamis 18’, Bolger 21’ 73’, Taylor 59’, Kete 89’)

The Narrative: The rematch of last year’s Grand Final ended much differently than most people were expecting.  Sydney FC was absolutely dominant in this match despite missing their captain Dani Brogan and standout defender Caitlin Foord.  After a bit of a slow start, and a Melbourne goal, Sydney took over the game.  The Victory has to be very disappointed with this game, considering some of the pieces they added this season to improve upon an already solid team.  Definitely not the start to the season they expected. 

The Player: While offense was clearly the main story for Sydney FC this game, the score line also shows that some excellent defense was played.  Any time you can play against a team with Lisa de Vanna and hold her scoreless, you’ve done something right.  Defender Amy Harrison was solid this game, and she also managed to get up in the offense, being denied by the post at one point in the game.  Harrison seems to show how well rounded this Sydney team is.

Worth A Shout: Emma Checker made her debut in the game. While it didn’t go her team’s way, she still had a solid start to her season, scoring the Victory’s only goal early on. The goal was solid header off of a pretty chaotic corner, and she rose above the rest to finish it.

Team Of The Week: Sydney FC

There’s no argument here, the team of the week has to be Sydney FC.  They had a complete performance against the Victory, a team that should be competing with Sydney at the top of the table this season.  They allowed only one early goal and scored five of their own.  All of this without several key players.  It’s frightening to think what they will do once those players are back.

Next Week’s Game to Watch: Adelaide United vs Melbourne Victory

An Adelaide United team that gave up three points in stoppage time will be looking to turn things around against Melbourne who was absolutely decimated in their opener.   It’s early in the season, but the result of this game could predict the season ahead for each team.  Adelaide doesn’t want to be at the bottom of the table yet again this year and Melbourne is expected to be at the top of the league come playoff time.