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.
Sydney FC is now the A-League side that can boast the most Matildas. Princess Ibini scored against Portugal, and was called into the squad to face Canada. Mackenzie Hawkesby joined the setup to face Spain and Portugal, and Taylor Ray earned her first cap in the same fixture.
Although she is recovering from a knee injury, she has been re-signed by the club and will hopefully return to the pitch soon.
Jada Whyman’s run of clean sheets in 2021/22 still awaits her first cap, but is a regular inclusion in training camps, and Rachel Lowe looks to be in the mix.
At Youth level, Sarah Hunter and Charlize Rule backed up strong A-League seasons with impressive performances at the Under 20 World Cup. Their teammate at that tournament Abby Lemon is an exciting addition to their attack. Hawkesby scored a hattrick with the under 23’s at the AFF Championships following a season as Australia’s dominant midfielder.
The arrival of Kirsty Fenton is another impressive coup by Ante Juric. Sydney FC are simply star studded for the coming season.
Back to back to back?
Since the league’s inception, no team has finished top three times in a row. Sydney are well placed to achieve that. They have consistency in the playing roster, and a winning culture.
Sydney FC expects to win every game, and while they will have to travel outside of NSW more than they did last season, they have a team well equipped to continue their recent dominance.
Extra Vine time
Cortnee Vine is possibly the best player in the A-League Women. She is an electric winger, a deadly finisher and an all-round fan favourite.
Vine’s dominance on Sydney’s right flank has earned her the catchphrase “Vine Time” which spreads around social media whenever she embarks on one of her dangerous runs into the box, or she scores another goal.
Sydney FC have an interesting looking attack. They have three known wingers but few options at centre forward. Paired up with the likes of Lemon and Ibini, Vine will likely have another brilliant season.
Watch her while she is still playing in Australia. Because the world is at her lighting quick feet.
Wellington were many peoples second favourite side last season. However, they had to play the entire season away from home. With COVID restrictions all but over, their own fans will have the opportunity to cheer on this exciting team.
With New Zealand set to co-host the women’s World Cup it is important that fans and players get this opportunity. They were admirably supported by The Little Corner of Yellow travelling fans in 2021/22. Hopefully this is replicated when they set foot in Sky Stadium for the first time.
A truly exciting centre back
One of the reasons that Wellington are able to play with such freedom in attack is their defence. Kate Taylor was one of the breakout stars of last season. The Football Fern plays at centre back with a confidence beyond her years.
She is fast, strong and has terrific technique whether sliding in to win the ball or playing it out from the back. Taylor was courted by numerous other clubs but elected to stay with the Phoenix. She is likely a future national team captain and will likely play in Europe sooner rather than later.
Taylor is a fun centre back to watch, and must be frustrating to play against.
They’re improving, and quickly
Despite some poor looking score lines, Wellington were both a fun team to watch and a difficult side to play against in 2021/22.
The much admired coach Gemma Lewis has departed as head coach for overseas opportunities. In her place, former assistant Natalie Lawrence will step up to take charge.
The arrival of Paige Satchell will give their attack some experience. The Football Fern is a best known for her damaging wing play, but evolved further into a goal scorer at Sydney FC.
Alyssa Whinham rose rapidly to become an exciting playmaker. Her first goal for the club remains one of the best moments of the season.
Mackenzie Barry has signed for a second season. Her partnership with Taylor is a look at the future of the New Zealand national team.
Wellington Phoenix are still everybody’s second favourite team. But they will not remain underdogs forever, and their time could be arriving quicker than many think.
Western Sydney Wanderers
New coaching staff
The addition of Tom Sermanni to the club is something that many fans of women’s football celebrated.
The last Matildas coach to win major silverware and the manager who helped establish the current generation of players will be valuable to a club that has always had potential but struggled to deliver.
Sermanni will serve as head of women’s football at the club, while ex Alamein boss Kat Smith will take charge of the senior team.
Smith’s Alamein side only narrowly missed out on NPLW finals after a strong season. They were only pipped to fourth spot in the final seconds of the final round.
The new coach has a big task ahead, but has retained some important players. As always, the Wanderers have some impressive youth in their ranks like Alexia Apostolakis, Sheridan Gallagher and Ella Abdul Massih.
The departure of Libby Copus-Brown looked potentially damaging. The playmaker has been crucial to both Catherine Cannuli and Dean Heffernan in past seasons. Smith wasted no time finding a good midfielder to fill the void.
Amy Harrison is back in town
The internationally capped midfielder arrives after two seasons at PSV Eindhoven and will add class and experience to the Wanderers midfield.
In 2021/22, the Wanderers defence was reasonable dependable before the injury to Hunt, and the attack was creative if not clinical. It was in midfield where they struggled and Harrison is the perfect player to rectify that.
She will need support and more signings are expected, but Harrison return to Western Sydney is promising for the club and exciting for the league.
Clare Hunt is fully fit
The former Canberra centre back has been in the league since 2018, but is still a young player. The 23 year old was awarded the Wanderers Medal last season. Her form until injury established her as one of the best defenders in the league.
Before Hunt’s injury, the Wanderers had conceded just five times. Two of those goals came against the eventual premiers Sydney FC.
After she was injured in late January, Western Sydney went on to concede a further 20 goals over the next seven games.
Hunt has re-signed for Kat Smith’s first season. Even amongst a squad featuring some very strong defenders like Caitlin Cooper, and Alex Huynh, she was hugely important and will be again this season.
Chloe Logarzo is possibly the biggest name to sign for an A-League women’s team this season. The senior Matilda is a two-time winner of the competition with Sydney FC and although she is returning from a serious knee injury could make a huge impact as she builds fitness before the World Cup.
She will be the biggest name, but will not be without help in Mark Torcaso’s midfield. Western United have added Philippines international Jaclyn Sawicki and Calder star Alana Cerne to the roster. Logazro should be able to be at her damaging best, which is good for the league, the club, and The Matildas.
A new club in the A-League Women’s means more opportunities for players, an extended season and the potential for further growth.
In the case of Western United, the stated aim is to give football fans in regional Victoria a chance to watch top tier football. Although many of their home games are fixtured for City Vista reserve, some venues remain unannounced. The hope is that they will play in Ballarat or even Tasmania, a possibility that the locals are excited for.
Western United’s inclusion in the league is the result of long term planning by them and Calder United. The NPLW club established a link with the relatively new A-League entity in 2021 and have developed their program together.
Western United have signed some exciting talent like Young Matilda Khali Johnson and defensive prospect Silver Bell Morris. They will likely surprise a few sides in 2022/23.
Victoria’s NPLW Champions on the big stage
Wester United has cast a wide recruiting net, but will also be giving opportunities to some of Victoria’s best.
The club has drawn heavily from Calder United, who Mark Torcaso led to three trophies in 2022. Midfielder Alana Cerne was their first signing. Melissa and Adriana Taranto joined soon after, followed by attacker Raquel Derales.
Stacey Papadopoulos and Harriet Withers were also influential for Calder United last season, both will provide width and pace. Papadopoulos was almost unstoppable in the NPLW Grand Final.
Emma Robers brings the experience of Calder United’s season and a championship winning campaign with Melbourne Victory.
The leagues newest side is not an unfamiliar team. They have an established style of play and are familiar with each other. It will be exciting to see how Victoria’s best team fares in Australia’s top league.