Melbourne Victory Westfield W-League season preview: Defending Premiers aim to ‘bring everything home’

Despite winning the Premiership last season, Melbourne Victory return for the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign with a bitter taste in their mouth.

After a stellar regular season Victory failed to reach the Westfield W-League Grand Final, falling to a Sam Kerr-inspired Perth Glory in the Semi Finals who made it in their place.

And now, as former Victory player Gülcan Koca attests, there’s a fire burning in Jeff Hopkin’s squad fuelled by sheer determination to do better in the 2019/20 Westfield W-League season.

Last season: 1st
Koca’s predicted position: Premiership, Championship

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W-League.com.au’s two things to watch

  • Victory venture into AFC Women’s Club Championship

Melbourne Victory have been rewarded for their 2018/19 Westfield W-League Premiership with a spot in the inaugural AFC Women’s Club Championship, a round robin competition taking place at the end of November between the top team from Australia, China PR, Japan and Korea Republic.

It’s a fantastic initiative in the women’s game which Jeff Hopkins and his Victory side will aim to excel in, but how will it affect their Westfield W-League campaign?

  • Different imports, different outcome?

Victory won the Westfield W-League Premiership last season off the back of some vital contributions from their overseas imports.

Natasha Dowie will captain the side once again but Christine Nairn, Dani Weatherholt and Sam Johnson have not returned to Melbourne for the 2019/20 campaign, meaning new international recruits such as Darian Jenkins, Annalie Longo and Emily Menges will need to produce solid performances from the get-go to fill the considerable void left by last season’s top international players.

MATCH PREVIEW: Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
SEASON DRAW: Every Victory match in the 2019/20 campaign

First five fixtures

Sydney FC (a)
Brisbane Roar (a)
Western Sydney Wanderers (H)
Melbourne City (a)
Brisbane Roar (H)

Koca’s key match-ups: Melbourne City, Sydney FC

“The derbies are the best games to be involved in and to watch.

“I’m really looking forward to watching our games against (Melbourne) City and the Sydney games.

“They’ll be tough games to play.

Melbourne Victory kick off their Westfield W-League campaign with the Big Blue away to Sydney at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday afternoon, 4:00pm (AEDT).

Koca’s players to watch

Angela Beard

“I believe last season for Victory (Beard) wasn’t able to show exactly what she’s capable of.

“I have no doubt with the skill level and skills she has that she’ll be able to produce in the W-League.

“She’s an incredible attacking player and I hope this season she’s able to show that and get a bit more forward and maybe even get on the scoresheet.

“I’ve got a lot of faith in her to impact the team in a positive way.”

Angie Beard
Angela Beard

Natasha Dowie

“Tash (Dowie) over the W-League break was overseas and doing incredible things, scoring great goals.

“I believe her time off has given her that hunger again.

“She’s one of those players that never settles for what the result is, she always wants more and more each season so I have no doubt she’ll be making sure she’s on the scoresheet each game.

“If anything I believe she’ll make it very hard for anyone else to get in there and be competitive.

“As she gets older the more competitive she gets.”

Natasha Dowie
Natasha Dowie

Darian Jenkins

“Jenkins will give (Dowie) a run for her money.

“I’ve seen some highlights of her in the NWSL and some of the goals she’s scored and attacking play she’s been involved in.

“I believe they (Jenkins and Dowie) will test each other, but at the same time will set each other up for some really amazing goals.”

Darian Jenkins
Darian Jenkins

The squad

Jenna McCormick Story
Angela Beard Story
Laura Brock Story
Casey Dumont Story
Natasha Dowie Story
Melissa Maizels Story
Annalie Longo Story
Teigen Allen Story
Alexandra Gummer Story
Lia Privitelli Story
Melina Ayres Story
Grace Maher Story
Amy Jackson Story
Rosie Sutton Story
Polly Doran Story
Emma Robers Story
Haley Hanson Story
Darian Jenkins Story
Emily Menges Story

TRANSFER HUB: All the Westfield W-League signings 
PREVIEW: Captain Dowie locks sights on trophy double in 2019/20

Koca’s squad verdict

“Jeff has been building the squad from strength to strength each season.

“We have lost some players that have been in navy blue for a while, but there’s always room to grow.

“Every signing Jeff is making is to better the team, and to better the chances of the club having great success.

 “There’s been a couple of hiccups made on the way; we haven’t got Laura Brock (née Alleway) for a couple of weeks, she’s coming back from recovering from her previous injury, but I believe as soon as she comes in it will make our side even stronger.

“From what I’ve seen Jenna McCormick has been really amazing, Amy Jackson has come back, she’s a good friend of mine as well and a quality leader and player, so with these players coming in I’m sure they’ll make a massive impact on the squad in a positive way.”

New recruit and Westfield Matildas defender Jenna McCormick
New recruit and Westfield Matildas defender Jenna McCormick

Melbourne Victory 2019/20 squad

Jenna McCormick, Angela Beard, Laura Brock, Casey Dumont, Natasha Dowie, Melissa Maizels, Annalie Longo, Teigen Allen, Alexandra Gummer, Lia Privitelli, Melina Ayres, Grace Maher, Amy Jackson, Rosie Sutton, Polly Doran, Emma Robers, Haley Hanson, Darian Jenkins, Emily Menges.

The boss: Jeff Hopkins

“I can say there has been a (training) session with Jeff that I haven’t enjoyed.

“The hardest thing about playing professional sport; where you spend more time playing football than you do with your family, if you’re not engaged in the sessions that are put on and you’re not getting anything out of it or the quality isn’t great you kind of lose your passion for it.

“As every coach should be he’s there earlier, late nights working on tactics, working on drills.

“Because I’m in the office I see everything he does, and once I started working at the club he made me have a new appreciation for coaches and for him.

“As a player you turn up to training, the drills are set up, the bibs are set up, you don’t think anything of it. Being able to see first hand all the effort he puts into it, I gained a lot of respect for him.

“He’s been working really hard to make sure training and everything for the girls is as good as it can be with what he can produce, he’s doing an amazing job and I hope it shows in the results this season.”

Jeff Hopkins of Melbourne Victory was the Westfield W-League coach of the Year
Jeff Hopkins was the Westfield W-League coach of the Year last season

Koca’s predictions – Premiership, Championship double

“I believe we’ll make finals.”

“We’ve not gone to exactly where we want to be because we want to win everything.

“Last season we had a very high winning mentality in our team so this year (we expect) nothing less than bringing everything home (Premiership and Championship).

“I don’t think Jeff and the girls will expect anything less.”

The kits

 Melbourne Victory will don their classic navy blue home kit similar to last season, with the white ‘V’ across the chest made up of thin white lines in a sleek design.

The away kit is a point of difference this season, made up of a grey base with a thick white ‘V’ separating the grey from navy blue which stretches across the chest and down the sleeves.

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