The Westfield W-League season had an early start this year due to the 2015 Asian Cup in January meaning we’ve finished our participation in Australia’s top-tier women’s competition.This has seen bigger crowds and increased media coverage for the Wander Women with the average home crowd increasing by over 66% on last season.
New Head Coach Norm Boardman compiled a squad focussing on the Club’s mission to nurture football in Western Sydney. In came a host of talented young footballers who represented the entire region with players ranging from Campbelltown in the south all the way to Wentworth Falls in the west.
Boardman also attracted a number of top class players into the squad to help nurture the next generation of stars. Americans Keelin Winters from Seattle Reign and Kendall Johnson of Sky Blue FC brought a touch of class to a group that was young, enthusiastic and willing to learn.
The season began with a series of fixtures that would have been tricky for any team in the competition; a home match against reining Premiers Canberra United to kick-start the season before a trip to the current Champions Melbourne Victory, the Sydney Derby, another home match against top-of-the-table Perth Glory and a visit to Queensland to take on the Brisbane Roar, the most successful club in the history of the Westfield W-League.
Quite a daunting prospect.
With a completely new look line-up and with more W-League debutantes than we have space to mention, a battle-hardened Canberra inflicted a 4-1 opening day defeat with a late goal from Demi Koulizakis the high point. A goal-fest followed in Victoria as the Wanderers went down 5-3 to Melbourne Victory, Keelin Winters grabbing a brace for her first goals in Red & Black.
While in the Hyundai A-League the Sydney Derby has quickly become the biggest game of the season not even the most die-hard of supporters would have anticipated the turn-out at Marconi Stadium. A mammoth 3,084 crammed in to watch the action; a W-League record crowd.
By this stage of the season it was apparent that this was a team in transition with the young squad improving game-on-game. A few lapses of concentration had cost the team points but with most players still teenagers the ability to learn from these errors and bounce back was evident.
These players are the future of football in Western Sydney so a season such as this is paramount to ensuring they can become world class.
Even in the Club’s record loss the next week against eventual Premiers Perth the team put together its best 45 minutes of the season, going into first half stoppage time at 0-0. Quite how the team managed to lose so heavily from thereon will remain a mystery for some time to come! Suffice to say lessons were learned from the loss.
Coming off the record loss and heading to Brisbane to take on the most successful club in the history of the competition, the Red & Black were written-off before they even took the pitch. But a goal by Hannah Beard and a great individual performance by Winters saw the Wanderers claim a 2-1 victory in the greatest upset in the history of the league.
A second win of the season, sweet revenge over Sydney FC and our first ever Derby win followed in Round 7 before a more than creditable 1-1 draw in Canberra with the hosts only rescuing themselves in stoppage time, hints at what this squad could achieve given the right time and backing.
Three results in four weeks and revenge over teams who had previously defeated them shows just how beneficial this year has been for the young Wanderers squad and bodes very well looking into the future.
These players will be the backbone of the Wanderers line-up for years to come while a number will be the future stars of the Matildas so get in early and show your support.