Matildas in focus: Olympic preparation begins in Westfield W-League for classy Roar leader
Class from beginning to end in 2020/21, Matildas star Clare Polkinghorne helped Brisbane Roar to a second-place finish on the Westfield W-League table as the central defender geared up for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Polkinghorne departed Brisbane at the conclusion of the regular season to join Vittsjö GIK in Sweden’s top tier where her preparations for Tokyo 2020 continued. But before the overseas move, Polkinghorne helped the Roar shine with her dominant defensive play throughout 12 impressive performances in 2020/21.
Read on for a recap of Polkinghorne's most memorable games in an outstanding individual season for Brisbane!
Clare Polkinghorne Westfield W-League 2020/21 stats
- Games played: 12
- Starts: 12
- Goals: 2
- Duels won: 69.6%
- Recoveries: 125
- Tackles made: 31
Round 5: Roar thump Victory in first win of the campaign
Brisbane were solid defensively throughout the first four games, but struggled attacking wise in two 0-0 and two 1-1 draws which saw the Roar start the campaign with four points from four games.
But in Round 5 the Roar added attacking potency to defensive solidity as Polkinghorne and co. notched a third clean sheet from five games in a 6-0 win on the road.
Polkinghorne was immense throughout, engaging in five tackles and 12 duels, making 14 ball recoveries and taking 84 touches to go with the clean sheet secured against the side which would go on to become Westfield W-League Champions by the end of the season.
Round 6: Polkinghorne's offensive threat comes to the fore
High on confidence after the 6-0 mauling of Victory in Round 5, the Roar were back for more against another Victorian side the very next game as they won 3-2 over Melbourne City.
This time the defensive line was far less stringent, conceding the same amount of goals they had leaked throughout the first five games of the campaign. But Polkinghorne made her presence felt in attack, putting the first goal of a five-goal thriller into the back of the net with a thunderous standing header from a corner routine.
Round 8: Polks scores again as Brisbane thump the Premiership favourites
Sydney FC were flying when Brisbane travelled to face them at Leichhardt Oval in Round 8. Six wins from six had Ante Juric's side firming up as not only favourites for Westfield W-League silverware, but as potential 'invincibles' in 2020/21.
Polkinghorne helped the Roar give the Sky Blues a rude awakening. The central defender scored her second goal of the campaign in a 4-1 rout, winning 100% of her attempted tackles and duels as the Queenslanders dominated Sydney on their own turf.
Round 11: Standing tall in a shock loss
The tables turned on Brisbane in Round 11 when Canberra United scored four goals to one to stun the Roar in Polkinghorne's 150th Westfield W-League appearance - all of which coming in Brisbane colours.
On a dour day for her team Polkinghorne produced a personal-best for the season in numerous categories, including touches (113), passes (100), chances created (three), tackles (six) and recoveries (18).
Round 14: Ending on a high
Polkinghorne notched an assist for Mariel Hecher in a clean sheet performance against Newcastle Jets on her final night in Roar colours for 2020/21.
The 3-0 victory capped off a brilliant season for the Roar, a side which lost just once all season (a league-high). Polkinghorne departed at the conclusion of the regular season, as did Matildas striker Emily Gielnik who joined Polkinghorne at Vittsjö GIK.
Brisbane would go on to lose 6-2 to Victory in the Semi Finals, showing just how vital the pair of Matildas had been to the Roar throughout the 2020/21 campaign.