De Vanna - I've grown as a player and person along journey to Victory Championship
Lisa De Vanna says winning the Westfield W-League Championship with Melbourne Victory provided her with one of the most exciting feelings she's ever experienced throughout her illustrious playing career.
De Vanna became a five-time Champion on Sunday night, drawing level with Aivi Luik and Steph Catley on the most Westfield W-League Grand Final wins of all time.
The 36-year-old is the oldest player to win a Westfield W-League Championship. Teenager Kyra Cooney-Cross netted the winning goal for Victory in the last minute of extra time from a corner kick, sealing a shock 1-0 win for Jeff Hopkins' side over the Premiers Sydney FC.
MATCH REPORT: Victory stun Sydney FC to earn crown of Champions
The Westfield Matildas' all-time leading goalscorer has played in four FIFA World Cups and two Olympics. She's played league football in Sweden, Italy, and the U.S. And now, the legendary striker has added a record-equalling piece of silverware to her cabinet.
But De Vanna says securing the 2020/21 Westfield W-League Championship with Victory tops the list of her most exciting experiences along that journey.
"I actually feel like I’ve actually grown as a person and a player, playing for Victory this year," she said post-match.
"It was definitely a different role, I had to lead and teach about what it takes to be the best, and what it takes to be a Matilda at that level.
"Every game, every week, every day was a challenge.
Look at the rewards: this is just a true reflection of what we have achieved by having a good culture and belief in (ourselves).
This is probably one of the most, out of my whole career, exciting feelings I’ve ever experienced."
De Vanna and Victory came into the Grand Final after a third-place finish in the regular season. But after brushing aside Brisbane Roar in a 6-2 Semi Final win, the Victorian outfit approached the Grand Final with confidence of going all the way.
It took a corner delivery from Kyra Cooney-Cross to finally seal the stunning win in the 120th-minute of play of a game in which Victory took 30 shots to the Sky Blues' 14.
Sydney FC goalkeeper Jada Whyman produced a mammoth performance in goal, making five sterling saves to keep it at 0-0 until the dying embers of additional time.
Victory struck the woodwork twice in quick succession in the first half and struggled to pierce Whyman's guard in the aftermath, as it seemed the game would progress to a penalty shootout to decide it all.
But that's not what was written in the stars for De Vanna and Victory.
"(It's) something I’ve never experienced before," De Vanna said.
"The ball just would not go into the back of the net - it’s like one of those games where you’re thinking ‘is it going to go into a penalty shootout, and are we going to loose on a penalty shootout after having that many chances?’
"But we were persistent, we believed. It took to the last kick of the game to win it, and you can’t put a feeling to that."
De Vanna continued:
"I felt like I had a little bit more energy in the Brisbane game than I did today.
But sometimes you’ve just got to play with heart, and if you play in heart then the team works for you because they show 100%.
I guess today I played with a little bit more heart, and finally we got there."