This weekend had a full slate of excellent women’s soccer down under. The Westfield W-League Semi-finals most definitely did not disappoint and it is now down to two teams with just one more game left in this 2013-2014 season.
The Narrative: Brisbane took on perhaps the hottest team in the W-League away from home and 90 minutes later, they found themselves in the W-League Grand Final. The rainy weather played a big part in this game and perhaps on a sunnier day this game would have gone to extra time tied 0-0. Both teams put in gutsy performances and despite having less shots, corners and balls sent into the penalty area than Canberra, Brisbane is the team heading to the Grand Final.
The Player: To close out the regular season midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight was named the W-League Player of the Week after Brisbane’s big 1-0 win over Melbourne. It seems that Kellond-Knight planned on continuing the good form that earned her that honor into this semi-final match. Not only did she score the game-winning goal, but she also helped Brisbane get things going very early with the assist on Kim Carroll’s goal.
Worth A Shout: This week, I’ll be selecting a player from the losing squad to highlight in this section. Canberra had a fantastic campaign, which was highlighted by the excellent play of their forwards. One in particular was Stephanie Ochs. While on loan from the Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League, Ochs has really grown this past season becoming one of the best finishers in the league.
Sydney FC 2 (Kerr 45+’, Khamis 52’) – 3 Melbourne Victory (Fishlock 22’, Humble 37’, Barnes 71’)
The Narrative: These are two teams with quite a bit of history with each other over the past two seasons. In the 2013 W-League Grand Final, Sydney FC took home the trophy at Melbourne’s home stadium. And in a rematch to open this season, Sydney continued their dominance against the Victory, beating Melbourne 5-1. This time around though Melbourne was the team on top. After Sydney came back to tie things at 2, a late handball call awarded Melbourne a penalty kick to grab the win.
The Player: It seems that with each club Jess Fishlock has played with in the past 18 months, she has made an impact no matter the circumstance. After exploding onto the NWSL scene with her play in Seattle, Fishlock has kept up her form all over the globe. And this W-League campaign has been no exception for her. When Fishlock is playing well, Melbourne is playing well, and as a result they have reached a second straight Grand Finale.
Worth A Shout: This season for Sydney FC was brilliant. They lost only four matches in all competitions (Westfield W-League, W-League Playoffs and the Mobcast Cup) and scored the most goals for a single season W-League history with 39. That’s an average of three per game! A big reason for their success was English international forward Jodie Taylor. The Washington Spirit will be pleased to receive her services for the upcoming 2014 season as she’s proved herself to be a lethal finisher and has an eye for the killer pass.
Next Week’s Game to Watch: Melbourne Victory vs Brisbane Roar
Yes, I know, it’s a bit obvious which game you should be watching this weekend considering there is only one game. Regardless, who saw this match-up coming!? Both semifinals ended in upset with the lower seed taking the win, meaning that Melbourne will host the Grand Final this year, just one year removed from losing the title to Sydney FC. Brisbane is no stranger to the Grand Final either, as this will be their fifth trip. They’ll be looking for their third title as Melbourne is trying for their first ever title. Let’s dig into two main keys for this match.
The Weather: In both semifinal match-ups, wet and soggy grounds led to some soft goals for both squads. The current forecast for Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium calls for partly cloudy skies and, wait for it, a zero percent chance of rain. While the 55% humidity could make things a bit uncomfortable, it’s not anything these players haven’t already faced this season.
The Dynamic Duos: For the Melbourne Victory, Lisa De Vanna and Jess Fishlock have played with such synchronicity at times, it’s like they can read each others minds. On various occasions when one has had a poor game, the other has stepped up and provided the offense spark Melbourne needed to get a win. However, if both aren’t at their best, Melbourne has struggle at times. On the other side of the field, Brisbane has their own midfield combination of Katrina Gorry and Hayley Raso. These two youngsters are key to maintaining possession and finding goals. Raso did have to exit last weekend’s semifinal due to a concussion, but hopefully she’ll be back in time for this season’s final game.