Expectation was high at Western Sydney Wanderers heading into the Westfield W-League 2019/20 Season with a new coach, strong new squad and a new mentality.
Having never reached the Finals Series before in their Westfield W-League history, there were no more excuses for the Red and Black.
And to their credit they did not need any as the side did enough over the 14 rounds to finish in the top four to sit just one game away from the 2020 Grand Final.
Premiers Melbourne City are the Wanderers’ Semi Final opponent, with the two sides to do battle on Sunday, March 15 at ABD Stadium (kick-off 1.30pm AEDT).
Ahead of the do-or-die clash in Broadmeadow, we look back at some of the Wanderers' best moments on the way to the Finals Series.
Story of the season
Coach Dean Heffernan stressed the importance of getting off to a strong start and the Wanderers certainly did just that.
A first-up win over Adelaide United (2-1) was followed by two more victories against Newcastle Jets (1-0) and Brisbane Roar (3-1) to have a share of the competition lead after three rounds.
While they drew 1-1 with Melbourne Victory next, all eyes were on their battle against champions Sydney FC in Round 6, which turned into a red-letter day for the club as they trounced their cross-town rivals 5-0.
They followed that up with a 4-0 drubbing of Canberra United on Boxing Day but the turn of the year brought about a turn in fortunes.
The Wanderers won just one of their next five matches – losing four – to be in danger of falling out of the top four heading into the final round.
But a thrilling 3-2 win over the in-form Perth Glory in Round 14 ensured finals football for the club for the very first time.
Best game – Western Sydney Wanderers 5-0 Sydney FC
It is not hard to pick the result which stands out for Wanderers players and fans alike from the regular season.
Having been on the end of many a heavy defeat to their Harbour City rivals over the years, the Wanderers were intent on making a statement in the top-of-the-table clash at Bankwest Stadium.
It soon turned into a drubbing.
It took less than four minutes for former Sydney FC midfielder Amy Harrison to open the scoring before Kyra Cooney-Cross scored the first of her double two minutes later.
American imports Lynn Williams and Kristen Hamilton ran riot for the Wanderers, with Williams scoring a second-half brace to cap an unforgettable 90 minutes for the Red and Black faithful.
Best goal – Kristen Hamilton v Brisbane Roar
American star Hamilton arrived at the Wanderers with a little less hype than her compatriot Williams but soon showed her quality.
It was in Round 3 when Hamilton made her mark, scoring a stunning hat-trick as the Wanderers beat Roar 3-1 on the road.
And it was her third goal which was a show-stopper and iced the result against the fast-finishing hosts.
Cooney-Cross showed her class with a deft back-heel Into Hamilton's path, with the striker turning her marker and then firing a rocket past Mackenzie Arnold.
Heffernan got his recruiting almost spot-on in the off-season, bringing in local quality as well as imports who were winners.
American duo Williams and Hamilton – along with Irish international Denise O’Sullivan – arrived fresh from helping North Carolina Courage win the NWSL and transferred their class and experience into the Westfield W-League.
Hamilton finished the regular season in a share of the Golden Boot with seven goals, while the departure of Williams and O’Sullivan in mid-season was evident in the downturn of results.
Centre-backs Sam Staab and Alex Huynh provided a solid and composed base at the back, while Harrison justified her move across town by taking her game to a new level at Wanderland.
Teenager Cooney-Cross also deserves a special mention, playing all 12 games and finishing with four goals and three assists.