Rivals united: Stengel and Corsie set for Royal partnership at Utah
A tussle between Canberra United defender Rachel Corsie and Newcastle Jets hotshot Katie Stengel would have made for a fascinating Westfield W-League contest.
Unfortunately, we were robbed of this one-on-one battle during the 2018/19 campaign, with Scottish stalwart Corsie being away on international duty when Newcastle and Canberra battled out their lone meeting in November.
However, with the pair destined to join forces for Utah Royals in the NWSL, we will get the chance to see Corsie and Stengel on the same pitch together in the upcoming 2019 National Women's Soccer League season.
Here's what we can expect as Corsie and Stengel return for Utah's second campaign.
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Westfield W-League foes, NWSL friends
Names: Katie Stengel and Rachel Corsie
Westfield W-League clubs: Newcastle Jets and Canberra United
NWSL club: Utah Royals
How many times did these two meet during the Westfield W-League 2018/19 season?
Not at all, as it turns out.
Corsie was unavailable for Canberra's squad for their Round 3 trip to face Newcastle on account of being on international duty with Scotland.
However, Stengel was there for the Jets, who prevailed 1-0 on the night courtesy of one of the goals of the season. Take a bow Cortnee Vine: you have helped Stengel secure some Westfield W-League bragging rights at the pair's new club.
So how did Stengel go in her second season with the Jets?
Having made her name in the Westfield W-League with Western Sydney Wanderers in 2016, Stengel delivered the Jets 10 goals and a third-placed finish during her maiden campaign in the Hunter Valley.
She trailed only Westfield Matildas star Sam Kerr for goals in that season, but 2018/19 proved a difficult one for the 27-year-old from Florida, with the striker's campaign cut short due to a stress fracture in her left ankle suffered in December.
Still, Stengel was her usual, dominant self prior to that cruel blow, scoring three goals – including a memorable two-minute double against eventual Grand Finalists Perth in December's 2-2 draw – and tallying two assists in her six matches.
How did Corsie fare with Canberra United?
Season 2018/19 was Corsie's first venture to Australian shores, and although Canberra United failed to make the top four, the Scotland captain left her mark at McKellar Park.
Only the two Melbourne teams (15 each) and second-placed Brisbane Roar (17) conceded fewer goals than Canberra's 18 over the regular season, and the 28-year-old defender played a crucial role in all four of her club's clean sheets.
Dominant in the air, strong in the challenge and a tidy distributor of the ball, Corsie rarely put a foot wrong in the nation's capital.
Neither of their teams made the finals, what went wrong?
Stengel's ankle problem was just the tip of the injury-riddled iceberg that was 2018/19 for Craig Deans' Newcastle, who also lost Taylor Smith, Cortnee Vine and Emily van Egmond for substantial chunks of the campaign.
It was the absence of experience which proved most costly for Newcastle, who were perhaps guilty of losing their composure when it mattered most.
Exhibit A: the remarkable 3-2 defeat to Adelaide United on New Years' Day, in which the Jets took a 2-1 lead with five minutes remaining but went on to concede two stoppage-time goals, and with them the points.
Stengel must be relishing a return to her native United States after the way the Westfield W-League season ended. What's her NWSL history like?
The USA forward is primed for a big season. Having been on the books of Bayern Munich in 2014, Stengel's path to America's top flight has arguably been a delayed one given her obvious quality.
Washington Spirit handed the striker her first NWSL opportunity in 2016, and she finished as the team's second-highest scorer with four goals.
Spirit ultimately made it to the Championship playoff against Western New York Flash, which went to penalties after finishing 2-2. Stengel was secure from the spot, but Washington fell 3-2 in the shootout, and she was moved on by the club after five matches in 2017.
A fruitless spell with Boston Breakers followed, and as the Breakers folded in 2018 Stengel was snapped up by NWSL newbies Utah Royals in January 2018. She would finish the team's inaugural campaign as top goal-scorer with six.
Has Corsie played in the US before?
She has indeed. The Aberdeen local began her career with her local club in 2006 and was acquired by Seattle Reign in 2015 following stints with British clubs Glasgow City and Notts County.
In the States, Corsie joined legendary Scottish midfielder Kim Little in helping the Reign clinch the 2015 NWSL shield, but Seattle finished fifth in the two seasons that followed, and she was released by the club in 2018.
Corsie pledged her allegiance to Utah in March 2018 and was a pivotal figure in the club's maiden season, in which she played every game and helped make the Royals one of the toughest nuts to crack in the competition.
Utah conceded just 23 goals – the third best defensive record of the campaign – and it's no secret that Corsie was the bedrock of the club's very solid introduction to NWSL football.