Team of the Week, presented by Bunnings Warehouse - Round 14
There were celebrations, tears and drama as the Westfield W-League 2020/21 regular season drew to a close – but which difference-makers are rewarded with Team of the Week, presented by Bunnings Warehouse, Round 14 honours?
Cheers went up at full-time whistles early in the round as top-four places were locked up. Canberra United's 0-0 draw with Sydney and Melbourne Victory's 6-0 win against Perth Glory sealed their spots and pushed Adelaide United down into fifth place.
It was an emotional night in Victoria as Melbourne City closed their campaign with a 2-1 triumph over Perth Glory, before Brisbane Roar sealed a home Semi-Final with a 3-0 win over the Newcastle Jets.
Then there was the high-stakes, winner-takes-all Big Blue clash between the Sky Blues and Victory at Cromer Park that ended with Sydney FC lifting the Premiers Plate.
Read on to see the 11 players who made our Team of the Week for Round 14, presented by Bunnings Warehouse.
Jada Whyman – Sydney FC
The Sky Blues keeper was denied back-to-back clean sheets by a stunning late effort by Kyra Cooney-Cross, but that should not take away from the assured performances that helped Sydney over the line to be crowned Premiers.
Canberra United striker Michelle Heyman's shooting radar may have been slightly off but Whyman still made seven stops to keep out a dominant Green Machine in a goalless draw, before the 21-year-old repelled everything Melbourne Victory threw at her until Cooney-Cross' thunderous stoppage-time consolation in Sydney's title-winning 2-1 triumph.
Lauren Keir – Canberra United
The Canberra right-back created three chances, including a superb ball to put Michelle Heyman clean through on goal but the forward lifted her effort over Sydney FC goalkeeper Whyman and a shade wide of the target in the 0-0 draw at Viking Park.
Nevertheless, Keir did enough to help secure the clean sheet that booked the Green Machine's place in the Finals Series with four interceptions and a 100% success rate from her three duels.
Kendall Fletcher – Canberra United
A monstrous defensive game by the Green Machine centre-half helped restrict the ladder-leaders Sydney FC to a only pair of fairly tame late shots on target in their 0-0 draw in the nation's capital.
Fletcher proved to be a rock in Canberra defence, logging three clearances, four interceptions (four), and winning eight of her nine duels and all three of her tackles in an almost flawless display.
Natasha Prior – Sydney FC
Prior led Sydney FC's rearguard in their two matches in Round 14, starting with a terrific showing against Canberra which included 10 combined clearances (six) and interceptions (four) as the the Sky Blues were placed under the pump by the Green Machine.
Heyman may well have escaped her attentions on a couple of occasions but Prior backed up her efforts in the winners-takes-all clash with Victory, adding another five clearances and two interceptions as the Navy Blue's frontline were stifled until the closing moments.
Jamilla Rankin – Brisbane Roar
Brisbane's young playmaking left-back once again made a significant impact at both ends of the pitch, delivering a mature performance beyond her 17 years of age.
No player on the pitch in the Roar's 3-0 win over the Newcastle Jets won more tackles (four) or duels (seven) than Rankin, while she also dropped in eight crosses, created two chances, and fired in a long-range shot in a box-to-box showcase.
Mariel Hecher – Brisbane Roar
The Brazilian was at her creative best in the victory against Newcastle and she was finally rewarded for her efforts in the 81st minute when she diverted the departing Clare Polkinghorne's header into the Jets goal.
Hecher's fourth goal of the season was the tip on the iceberg of a performance that included four chances created – one of them an assist – as well as four crosses and five shots. She came out on top of six of eight duels and added two tackles won, a clearance and an interception.
Rhali Dobson – Melbourne City
How can Rhali Dobson not earn a place in this Team of the Week? Not only did she finish her Westfield W-League career by breaking the stalemate with a superb finish as Melbourne City earned a 2-1 win over Perth Glory – but emotions were charged at Epping Stadium as she received a marriage proposal at full-time from her partner Matt.
The 28-year-old left everything she had on the pitch before waving a tearful farewell as she moves on to 'something bigger' in retirement from football, supporter her now fiance in his battle against cancer.
Teresa Polias – Sydney FC
A captain's performance ensured Sydney FC were crowned Premiers for the first time in 10 years, with Polias leading from the front by crashing in a 20-yard free-kick and working her socks off to protect the Sky Blues backline.
Her efforts for the week started with a tireless display in the stalemate against Canberra, making five interceptions and winning four duels, as Sydney were forced to defend for long periods. Polias doubled down against Victory, not only by scoring the opener, but logging another five interceptions and once again coming out on top of four duels.
Kyra Cooney-Cross – Melbourne Victory
Always one of Victory's brightest sparks, Cooney-Cross shined with devastating effect in the 6-0 win against Perth Glory. Her two goals from four shots doubled her tally for the season, while she created four chances, including an assist, and put over 11 crosses.
The 19-year-old was once again Victory's most attacking threat in the high-stakes clash against Sydney FC, landing four shots, creating four chances and winning a team-high seven duels – before slamming in her fifth goal of the season and third of the round in the final moments.
Melissa Ayres – Melbourne Victory
Ayres showed her clinical side, needing only three shots to net two goals against Perth Glory, and making it five for the season, while she also created a pair of chances for her teammates in the 6-0 triumph.
The Victory forward was kept a little quieter by the competition's best defence, but she gave the Sky Blues something to think about with two shots and her assist for Cooney-Cross' late stunner.
Alex Chidiac – Melbourne City
Westfield Matilda Chidiac was a constant tormentor of Perth Glory in Melbourne City’s 2-1 win, dropping in six crosses and creating two chances, before netting the crucial second goal at Frank Holohan Reserve.
The ex-Atletico Madrid ace completed 81% of her 41 passes, hit three shots on the Perth goal, winning nine of her 14 duels and three of her four tackles, and inspiring City on and off the ball as she narrowly edged Roar striker Emily Gielnik to the final forward spot in the line-up.