'She's one of the most powerful in the world': Sarah Walsh on NAB Young Footballer of the Year contenders
The Westfield W-League 2018/19 Season unearthed some exciting young stars, with three in contention for this year’s NAB Young Footballer of the Year Award.
Canberra United duo Ellie Carpenter and Karly Roestbakken, along with Sydney FC attacker Princess Ibini, are the 2018/19 nominees, with the winner to be announced at Monday night’s Dolan Warren Awards ceremony.
Ahead of the announcement, Fox Sports commentator Simon Hill sat down with former Westfield Matildas striker Sarah Walsh to get her thoughts on each of the contenders (see video above).
The Westfield Matildas defender won this award last season and has been just as brilliant in the 2018/19 campaign.
Carpenter was a star down the right flank for United, scoring three goals and making 15 key passes in just 11 appearances.
It was no surprise when she was nominated for her exploits for October/November.
“She’s obviously playing for Canberra United, who have relied on her quite heavily, and I think that kind of pressure and responsibility has taken her game to completely another level,” Walsh said.
“She’s is one of the most powerful fullbacks not only playing in the Westfield W-league, I think playing in the world.”
She may only be a teenager, but the classy defender is already one of United’s most reliable performers.
Playing predominantly as a left-back for Heather Garriock’s side, 18-year-old Roestbakken was a model of consistency, picking up December’s nomination.
“When you think of Karly Roestbakken, she’s that graceful left-back,” Walsh said.
“You talk about technique and ability, she’s so graceful on the ball, doesn’t lose it…her pass completion is 70% this year.”
The Westfield W-League 2018/19 Season will go down as the one where Ibini developed into one of the most lethal forwards in the competition.
The teenager particularly shone midway through the campaign in games against Brisbane Roar (one goal, one assist) and Adelaide United (two goals) before becoming a mainstay of Ante Juric’s title-winning side in a stellar January.
“Throughout her career she’s always been much bigger than her teammates and competitors growing up, but now she’s in the senior competition you’re starting to see she’s having to adapt her game,” Walsh said.
“Her understanding of the game is getting better, you’re starting to see the runs she’s making up top.
“[And her] finishing in front of goal has just gone to another level and now I think she’s a genuine attacking threat for Sydney FC.”