Smith and Staab named in Westfield W-League Team of the Week: Round 1

The twelfth instalment of the Westfield W-League kicked off on Thursday night, and we were treated to an action-packed weekend from the get go.

Western Sydney Wanderers claimed a come-from-behind win over Adelaide United, Newcastle Jets earned an unlikely point against star-studded Melbourne City, Sydney FC dazzled in the Big Blue and Canberra United impressed in their first hit-out against Perth Glory.

But which players shone the brightest?

In a 4-3-3 formation, here is w-league.com.au’s Round 1 Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper

Abby Smith (Western Sydney Wanderers)

The Wanderers enjoyed a come-from-behind win on the opening night of the Westfield W-League campaign, and they couldn’t have done it without the heroics of Abby Smith in goal.

Smith proved to be Adelaide’s kryptonite throughout the game, denying Reds striker Mary Fowler three times and pulling off two stunning diving saves in the space of a minute in the second half.

Adelaide threatened all night, but Smith stood tall in the Wanderers goal, allowing her teammates to go on and make Adelaide pay down the other end, when Kyra Cooney-Cross scored a late goal to win 2-1.

Defenders

Angelique Hristodoulou (Sydney FC)

As Sydney FC’s attack sparkled, Angelique Hristodoulou put in a gritty shift for Ante Juric’s side in their 3-0 win over Melbourne Victory.

The fullback had the most touches of any player on the pitch (87), made five tackles, won nine duels and tallied eight interceptions.

To add to her tireless defensive efforts, Hristodoulou bombed forward late in the game to supply the perfect ball for Shadeene Evans to head home a very memorable goal.

Karly Roestbakken (Canberra United)

With the heavy weight of expectation on her shoulders, Westfield Matildas starlet Karly Roestbakken proved she’s well up to the challenge as she starred for Canberra United against Perth Glory on Sunday afternoon.

Roestbakken bombarded up and down the flank for Canberra offering attacking threat and defensive cover all game in her trademark flying full-back role.

She had the highest passing accuracy percentage of any Canberra outfield player (91.7%), making two interceptions for the day and laid on the assist for Simone Charley’s second goal in Canberra’s 2-0 victory. She departed late in the match with what the club have since confirmed was a broken nose.

Amber Brooks (Adelaide United)

Despite losing 2-1 to the Wanderers, Amber Brooks was valiant in the Reds defence.

Brooks made 30 passes at 80% accuracy - the second-best accuracy percentage in the Reds’ line up – but it was her clearance work which was most impressive on the night, clearing the danger six times throughout the 90 minutes.

The American and her Adelaide teammates eventually buckled under the Wanderers pressure conceding a late goal to go home empty handed, but Brooks can hold her head up high.

Sam Staab (Western Sydney Wanderers)

Sam Staab ran the Wanderers show against the Reds from central defence on Thursday night.

Staab made 105 passes – 40 more than any other player on the field - at an accuracy of 88.8%.

On top of her imperious distribution on the ball, Staab won two out of her three duels, drew two fouls and made two clearances in a dominant display.

Midfielders

Emily van Egmond (Melbourne City)

Emily van Egmond played Newcastle for the first time since departing the Jets for City in the off-season and reminded her former team of just what they’re missing.

Van Egmond created three chances throughout the game, won five duels and made three tackles, but her biggest impact on the contest came in the first half when her long-range strike hit the back of the net and gave City the lead in the game.

Van Egmond’s low-trajectory pile driver barely left the ground as it rocketed into the net from well outside the box; it was her first goal in over a year after she failed to score for the Jets last season and could serve as a marker for how the experienced Australian international plans to carry on in the 2019/20 campaign.

Camila (Canberra United)

Camila only joined Heather Garriock’s side five days ago, but she started for Canberra against Perth on Sunday and quickly went about announcing herself as a Westfield W-League star.

The Brazilian laid a cross into the box which led to Simone Charley’s first goal of the game, and she almost got on the scoresheet herself if it wasn’t for an athletic save from Glory ‘keeper Eliza Campbell in the first half.

All in all, it was an impressive debut for Canberra’s newest marquee, who will look to build on her fast start in the weeks to come.

Teresa Polias (Sydney FC)

Teresa Polias pulled the strings in midfield all day for Sydney FC as the Sky Blues notched a convincing 3-0 win in the Big Blue.

Sydney’s first goal of the game stemmed from Polias winning the ball back for the Sky Blues in midfield, playing in Caitlin Foord who teed up Remy Siemsen to pounce.

From that moment on Polias played with polish and class, laying 54 passes with the highest accuracy of any Sydney player (83.3%), taking three long shots and making two interceptions in an excellent display.

Forwards

Caitlin Foord (Sydney FC)

Last season Foord was the Sky Blues’ prime finisher but Caitlin Foord began the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign as the ultimate provider, putting on two assists for striking counterpart Remy Siemsen in Sydney’s 3-0 win over Melbourne Victory.

Foord created five chances throughout the game including the assist for Siemsen’s second goal; a delightful left-footed cross which found Siemsen in acres of space for an easy finish.

Remy Siemsen (Sydney FC)

Siemsen returned to Sydney FC after a season at the Wanderers and marked her Sky Blues comeback in style, scoring two early goals to break open the Big Blue and seal three points for the Champions.

It took just four minutes for Siemsen to open her account for the season, taking a pass from Foord onto her left boot and hammering it past Victory ‘keeper Casey Dumont into the bottom left corner.

Midway through the first half Siemsen had her second of the day, linking up once more with Foord to head home from close range and cap off her brilliant return to life in Sky Blue.

Simone Charley (Canberra United)

Simone Charley was an unstoppable force in Round 1 of the Hyundai A-League, scoring both of Canberra’s goals in their 2-0 win over Perth.

Charley scored twice in the first 11 minutes of play; the first was a close-range tap in, but the second showcased the American’s extreme skill and sumptuous finishing ability.

Picking up Roestbakken’s pass near the right corner flag, Charley drove past two Glory defenders and curled a gorgeous left-footed shot into the top left corner, stamping her mark on the Westfield W-League as a striker not to be underestimated this season.