'It's these games that matter' – De Vanna shows big-game mentality to send Victory to Grand Final
All week Lisa De Vanna was encouraging her teammates to seize their moment – and the veteran forward proved exactly what she meant in Melbourne Victory's 6-2 Semi Final thumping of Brisbane Roar.
The Navy Blue punched their ticket to only their second ever Grand Final in style, where the third-place finishers will aim to lift the Westfield W-League Championship for the second time against either Sydney FC or Canberra United on Sunday, 11 April.
De Vanna had only netted one goal in 10 games this campaign ahead of the Finals Series opener but the 36-year-old led from the front in Queensland, lashing in the opener, forcing a parry to allow Melina Ayres to make it 3-1 and hammering in a stunning strike to extend the lead to 4-1.
The devastating double took De Vanna's Final Series tally to six – only Sam Kerr and Tameka Yallop have netted more times in the post-season – and the Westfield Matildas all-time top scorer believes she saved her best for the biggest occasion of Victory's season so far.
"I just wanted to make an impact and I’ve been preaching to the girls – it’s these games that matter," De Vanna said.
"If you’re going to do something you’ve got to lead by example so I went out there and led."
REPORT: De Vanna and Ayres drive Victory past Roar to reach first Grand Final in seven years
SEMI FINAL PREVIEW: Sydney FC v Canberra United
Jake Goodship's Roar had their fair share of misfortune. The second-placed side were without departed stars Clare Polkinghorne and Emily Gielnik and Yallop's 11th-minute effort appeared to bounce off the underside of the crossbar and perhaps cross the goal-line, but Jeff Hopkins' team showed their clinical side in the key moments at Lions FC Stadium.
"These are the games you play for," De Vanna added.
" I’ve been a big influence on character and playing with your heart and for them to come out and do that…
"The reward is there for next week so hopefully we go out next week and do what we did today."
Whether Sydney FC or Canberra await, Victory will fancy their chances with their front line of De Vanna, hat-trick hero Ayres and Catherine Zimmerman – who scored a crucial goal to put the visitors 2-1 up on the cusp of half-time – in the sort of dynamic form they showcased on Sunday.
But it was not only the electric front three that caught the eye of Hopkins. The head coach heaped praise on the foundations that created the platform that allowed the attackers to run riot.
"The performance of our midfield three, our back four and our goalkeeper was massive for us," Hopkins said.
"The performance was built off the defensive discipline, pressure on the ball and then once we got on the ball I thought our quality was a different level to what it has been this year."
"Some of the performances of some of our players went to another level."
Westfield W-League Finals Series 2020/21
Semi Final 1 – Sydney FC (1) v Canberra United (4)
Monday, 5 April 2021
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 3pm AEST
Grand Final – Winner Semi Final 1 v Melbourne Victory
Sunday, 11 April 2021
Kick-off: 4pm AEST