The Westfield W-League finals series opens with a potentially epic match-up as champs Melbourne Victory seek to defend their crown against the newly in-form Canberra United.
Melbourne Victory v Canberra United
Saturday 13 December 2014
Simonds Stadium, Geelong
Local kick-off: 3pm
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This contest has many possibilities and numerous sub-plots, but high-quality fare seems assured given the sheer quantity of talent lining up on the two sides.
The two teams experienced vastly contrasting results last time they took the field. The Victory crashed to unforseen 5-0 loss against Okayama Yunogo Belle at the International Women’s Club Championship in Japan, while Canberra became just the second team this season to beat runaway leaders Perth Glory.
Meanwhile, the results between the pair in the current campaign stand at one win apiece. Canberra won 1-0 in Melbourne six weeks ago, while the Victory secured a 4-2 win in the nation’s capital earlier in one of the best performances of the season by any Westfield W-League side.
“Canberra are obviously a class side, with some really good players, but this year we have played our best football against Canberra, so we are feeling pretty good going into the match,” said Melbourne skipper Steph Catley.
The Victory will be hamstrung in Geelong by the absence of pacy flanker Gema Simon (illness) and forward Caitlin Friend (ankle injury), but they have more than enough big-game players at their disposal, with the team having featured in the past two grand finals.
There are no such injury concerns for a Canberra United side still on a high after reaching the finals in stylish fashion with that 2-1 win over the Glory.
Like Melbourne, Canberra have no shortage of experienced players for the big occasion, including several veterans of their title win in 2012, plus American stars such as Lori Lindsey and Steph Ochs.
With the past two grand finals having been hosted by the team that finished third during the regular season, Canberra will be hoping history repeats.
Melbourne Victory squad: 1. Brianna DAVEY, 2. Hannah BREWER, 3. Jessica AU, 4. Alexandra NATOLI, 5. Lauren BARNES, 7. Stephanie CATLEY (C), 8. Amy JACKSON, 9. Racheal QUIGLEY, 10. Christine NAIRN, 11. Lisa DE VANNA, 12. Ella MASTRANTONIO, 14. Tiffany ELIADIS, 15. Emma CHECKER, 16. Beattie GOAD, 17. Gulcan KOCA, 18. Elli REED, 20. Cassandra DIMOVSKI
Ins: Jessica Au, Alexandra Natoli, 14. Tiffany Eliadis (all promoted), Amy Jackson (returns from suspension)
Outs: Gema Simon (illness – 1 week), Caitlin Friend (ankle – 1 week)
Unavailable: Alexandra Gummer (wedding – 1 week)
Canberra United squad: 1. Chantel JONES, 2. Catherine BROWN, 3. Julia DE ANGELIS, 4. Kendall FLETCHER, 5. Grace FIELD, 6. Caitlin MUNOZ, 7. Ellie BRUSH, 9. Grace GILL, 10. Grace MAHER, 11. Michelle HEYMAN, 12. Sally ROJAHN, 13. Nicole BEGG, 14. Ashleigh SYKES, 15. Tegan RIDING, 16. Lori LINDSEY, 20. Melissa MAIZELS (gk), 22. Stephanie OCHS
Ins: Grace Maher, Grace Gill (both promoted)
Unavailable: Meg McLaughlin (knee - season)
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