The new A-League Women season is almost upon us. In 2022/23 supporters of every side have multiple reasons to be excited.
There are new players, new coaches, and long-awaited homecomings for fans and players.
There are sides looking to continue historically successful runs, and clubs staking a claim as challengers.
From the champions to the newcomers, Kick360 has listed three things that fans of each club can look forward to.
Each recent season is the best so far
It has been a good past few season at Adelaide United. Since Adrian Stenta took over as coach they finished fifth in 2020/21 and third in 2021/22. Both were the best ever ladder position achieved by the club to date.
Adelaide has been a project of planning, patience and opportunity. They have given local South Australians a chance at senior level , and recruited impressive international players that have made significant impacts at the club.
The core of Adelaide United’s team is still young but have played together for a long time. The likes Isabel Hodgson, Emily Condon, Chelsie Dawber and Dylan Holmes have a chemistry on field that only years of football can provide. Up front they have some spectacular individual talents and in goals they have Anna Lee Grove who was one last season’s most improved players.
Much has stayed the same at Adelaide, there is consistency in their line-up, and steady improvement year on year. Fans have every reason to expect another exciting season.
Worts is back
The reigning Golden Boot winner is back. Adelaide’s English striker was signed to a new deal at the end of last season. Her third as a Red could be another spectacular one.
Worts often plays wide on the left, drifting inside to unleash shots from her deadly right boot. She developed an impressive partnership with Chelsie Dawber up front with the pair switching positions and unlocking space at the tip of Adelaide’s fast paced attack.
Worts is more than just brutally effective, she is a joy to watch. Adelaide’s rise up the ladder has coincided with her arrival at the club two season ago and she has become one of the stars of the competition. With Fiona Worts up front, Adelaide United are a threat in every game.
One of the best young goalkeepers keeps getting better
Annalee Grove began last season with a 5-1 loss away to Melbourne Victory. By the end of the 2021/22 campaign, she had established herself as one of the best young goalkeepers in Australia.
Grove’s rapidly improving ability between the posts earned her a place on the shortlist for the Australian Under 23 Squad. She enters the new season as the goalkeeper in South Australia’s NPL team of the season.
The 21-year-old was fundamental to Adelaide United’s fearless style last season. The club extended her contract for a further two seasons in 2022. They know she’s a keeper.
The NPL star
Shea Connors dominated at NPL level for Lions FC in Queensland. In her first full season at Brisbane Roar, she finished second in the goalscoring charts for the club. Following that, she made the move to the NSW NPL where she won the Golden Boot with 15 goals for APIA Leichhardt.
Connors is an entertaining player and was Brisbane’s most consistent attacker in 2021/22. She challenged herself in a new league in the off season and thrived. If the improvement continues Brisbane could surprise many this season. The American is a threat and a must watch player.
More Mini magic
Katrina Gorry is set to return from Sweden for the next season. The playmaker was the architect of Brisbane’s best performances in 2021/22 and remains a privilege to watch with the ball at her feet.
Gorry’s form for The Roar earned her a much-welcomed return to the national side where she has been essential to the way the team plays. In the national team, Gorry links defence and midfield with tidy technique and dogged work rate. For Brisbane, she is pure number 10, a playmaker of style, flair and vision who produces unbelievable moments with incredible consistency. Mini Gorry can do it all.
The Young Roar
Gareth McPherson, like his predecessor Jake Goodship has continued to trust in Queensland’s youth for the A-League Womens season. Brisbane can boast Jamilla Rankin who has made her senior Matildas debut and showed impressive versatility for her age in 2021/22.
They also have the rising young goalkeeper Mia Bailey. The 18 year old was twice nominated for save of the week in the Queensland NPL for the QAS squad. Bailey is safe, physically brave and has quick reflexes, everything you would want in a goalkeeper.
Hollie Palmer is another young Queenslander primed for a big season. She started 2021/22 injured but found form towards the end of the campaign. Brisbane have depth in a midfield containing Margot Robinne and Aesha Norrie. Palmer will be surrounded by players good enough to let her unleash her full abilities.
Michelle Heyman is on a mission
As reported in the Canberra Times, Michelle Heyman has her sights set on a Matildas call up.
When she made her comeback to the A-League Women, she targeted Sam Kerr’s goal scoring record, and the result was a Julie Dolan Medal. Last season, she was playing for the love of the game and scored another nine goals. Nobody who has watched her play in the last two years would doubt her determination or ability.
Heyman is one of the leagues best players already, the added motivation could spell trouble for the competition’s defenders.
Return of Flannery
The last time, Nikki Flannery was seen in the A-League Women she was finishing off a career best season and about to be called into a Matildas Talent ID camp. A knee injury in that training camp caused her to miss the next season for Canberra United.
Early in the season, Flannery’s absence was glaring. Canberra recruited well in attack with Ash Sykes and Margot Robinne, but Flannery’s ability to create and score from midfield and the wing was missed. She is simply an outstanding player and a match winner. Her return to the field is something to look forward to
If you have seen her play, then it is likely you are already a fan. If you have not, then treat yourself, because Sasha Grove is fun to watch. The 17 year old midfielder plays with a real joy when she has the ball and is happy to do the work to win it back when she does not.
Grove’s statistics are still humble, but she is a player who is fast improving. She has been added to the Young Matildas roster and will likely add to her highlights reel this season.
Bryleeh Henry’s next era
Henry is a Matilda in waiting. She already has two senior appearances to her name at just 19, but more importantly her style of play seems perfect for the national team.
She is able to play on either flank and times her runs into the box perfectly. A goal in the opening game of the Under 20 World Cup was a perfect example of her work rate and movement. This is a striker who knows where to be, runs hard to get there, and has the finesse to make the most of it
Her move to Melbourne City could be of huge benefit for the club and player. The potential of an attack featuring Henry, Hannah Wilkinson and perhaps Holly Mcnamara would be a delight to watch.
Sally James’s continued rise
Australia has a wealth of impressive young goalkeepers. But Sally James might be one of the best. She was injured for most of last season but enjoyed an impressive AFF Championship and World Cup with the youth teams.
James is a very safe pair of hands, especially under high balls. She has command of the penalty area and rarely looks out of position.
Although City have Matildas legend, Melissa Barbieiri as an option, James is a player all Matildas fans will want to do well. She is more than an exciting prospect. At just 19 she is one of the best keepers around.
Leticia Mckenna’s potential
Although City fans eagerly await the return of Holly Mcnamara from injury, they can look forward to Leticia Mckenna’s availability.
The former Perth prodigy made her name in Glory’s 2019 run to the Grand Final. Following a season at Brisbane Roar, Melbourne City won the race for her signature.
Her first season in Victoria was slowed by injuries, but her impact was obvious when she returned to the field.
Mckenna is a clever, creative midfielder who has developed a ball winning ability to go with her attacking skill. Last season Rado Vidosic had few attacking options in the squad, and Rebakah Stott was used to good effect in midfield as a solution.
But the return of Leticia Mckenna is something for City fans to celebrate.
The 40 cap Matilda is an excellent signing for Ash Wilson’s squad. Allen arrives from Western Sydney and will bring the experience missing from club stalwart Gema Simon.
Newcastle typically play a counter-attacking game style which requires composed defenders who are also capable passers. Allen is the type of signing that will allow The Jets the confidence to be the best swashbuckling version of themselves.