Melbourne Victory have claimed their second straight A-League Women’s title, defeating rivals Sydney FC 2-1 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
Victory now boast three A-League Women titles overall.
Goals to Amy Jackson and Catherine Zimmerman won it for Victory, with Sydney winger Cortnee Vine’s 66th-minute strike merely a consolation in the end.
It was another missed opportunity for Ante Juric’s side, who will be left to wonder what could have been if not for Casey Dumont and some of their own lack of finishing.
Sydney had the better of the opening minutes, with a few half-chances falling their way.
Early on after a corner-kick situation, Zimmerman cleared off the line for Victory. Courtney Nevin picked up a clear yellow card in the seventh minute after a bad foul on Mackenzie Hawkesby, who was well on her way down Sydney’s right side.
It was then Sydney’s turn to make a last-ditch clearance, after Alex Chidiac’s corner nearly found its way into the Sydney net at the back post. The rest of the opening stanza turned into a cagey affair, with gilt-edged chances for either side few and far between.
The best opportunity fell to Princess Ibini, who was denied by Casey Dumont after Siemsen played her in with a nice little ball. Dumont, it must be said, was putting in a very solid performance in the Victory goal without being forced into any extraordinary saves.
Siemsen found the net in the 38th minute but replays showed she was clearly offside as Ibini played her in. Hawkesby then drew a save from the busy Dumont late in the first half with a solid header, and Sydney weren’t far away from the opening goal from the resulting corner, again cleared off the line by Victory.
It didn’t take long for Victory to make the perfect start to the second half. Amy Jackson opened the scoring in the Grand Final with a header from Kyra Cooney-Cross’s lofted ball after Ante Juric’s side failed to clear their lines from a Victory corner.
The visitors failed to gain control following the goal, with the game opening up and both sides trading chances. However Victory eventually made it 2-0 through Zimmerman.
Just minutes later, Sydney were back in the game thanks to Cortnee Vine’s goal. The game began to open up as Sydney chased the equaliser, but it was ultimately just huffing and puffing from the hosts, with no clear-cut chances created.
It would finish 2-1 to Victory, Jeff Hopkins’ side claiming their second-straight A-League Women title and third overall.
HUNTER AND VINE STEAL THE SHOW
Ante Juric made the decision to drop Rachel Lowe from the starting 11 in favour of Sarah Hunter, and Cortnee Vine lined up on Sydney’s right side, edging out Paige Satchell who started in the extra-time semi-final win over Melbourne City.
The moves paid dividends, with Hunter buzzing around in midfield all afternoon long prior to her substitution, and Vine always threatening Victory’s left side, drawing a yellow card from Nevin in just the seventh minute of play. Vine got her name on the scoresheet and dragged her team back into the game with her 66th-minute strike, but it was ultimately not enough for Sydney.
DUMONT THE HERO
Casey Dumont stood tall for Victory, putting in a player-of-the-match performance between the sticks.
She was regularly called into action in the first half, making solid saves from multiple chances from Sydney’s attackers.
Her best save probably came after Siemsen was played in by Ibini. The Sydney No.9 got her shot off quickly but Dumont was in excellent position having come forward, and she made herself big to prevent Sydney opening the scoring.
It was a somewhat quieter second half for the Victory keeper but she kept going about her business and only conceded once throughout the game.
Dumont was subsequently voted by journalists as Player of the Match.
SYDNEY LOSE ONCE MORE
In what is becoming an all-too-familiar trend for Sydney FC, the Sky Blues once again fell at the final hurdle. It was a repeat of the result of last season’s Grand Final, when Cooney-Cross’s 120th-minute goal broke Sydney FC hearts.
This time around, after a cagey opening half, Sydney conceded two goals in a 15-minute period after half-time. Vine’s goal in the 66th minute got them back into the contest but the home side just could not find the equaliser, despite several opportunities to do so in the last 20 minutes.
Sydney’s status as one of the league’s top sides cannot be denied, but their penchant for not getting the job done in Grand Finals is starting to become a serious hoodoo for the Sky Blues, who despite defeating Perth Glory in 2018-19, have now lost three of the last four A-League Women deciders.
Melbourne Victory 2 (Jackson 49m, Zimmerman 64m)
Sydney FC 1 (Vine 66m)
“Sydney were coming at us multiple times,” Dumont told Channel Ten post match.
“There was a lot of chances they had… but I was able to pull off some saves for my team, and that’s what matters most.”
Sydney FC coach Ante Juric was understandably disappointed in the final score but also very proud of his charges.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Juric told reporters.
“The girls are devastated. Sometimes the scoreline doesn’t reflect what really happened – but that’s just life.
“(The team) know they put everything into it and they deserved to win, but we didn’t.”
Asked what the timeline for the next A-League Women season will look like as preparations ramp up for Australia’s home Women’s World Cup in 2023, Victory boss Jeff Hopkins said there had been no clear dates set by the APL as yet.
“I’d like to, I definitely would (know about next season),” Hopkins said.
“We’ve spoken to the players about next year and a number of them are already re-signed.
“The hard thing is, we don’t know when the season’s going to start. We don’t know what the season’s going to look like. So it would be good to now get the nuts and bolts sorted out so we can understand what next season looks like, so we can start preparing properly.”