In the first of our team previews, we run the rule over the new signings and team prospects for Western Sydney Wanderers in the fast-looming Westfield W-League season.
Western Sydney Wanderers head into their fifth campaign seeking a first-ever appearance in the semi-finals. Despite the lack of post-season action, the Wanderers have developed a habit of shocking highly credentialed opposition. Last season they finished just four points outside a finals berth.
There has been a big turnover of players at Wanderland with at least half the squad changed from last season. The side might be short on headline-grabbing signings but there are high expectations for the American quartet of Kendall Fletcher, Paige Nielsen, Alex Arlitt and especially forward Katie Stengel. Ellie Carpenter and goalkeeper Jada Whyman are back after breakthrough campaigns, while there are intriguing returns to action after a season out for Jo Burgess and Casey Dumont.
A new face will be in the dugout for the Western Sydney Wanderers with Rich Byrne set for his Westfield W-League coaching debut. Byrne, who has experience in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and most recently at the helm of the NSW schoolgirls team, will be assisted by former Westfield Matildas midfielder Leah Blayney.
“First and foremost, the expectation is that when the players put on that shirt to play for the club, the people, the area … just simply that they make people proud,” Byrne said. “We will try and play entertaining football. That is my No.1 thing and where that takes us we will soon find out.
“The internationals have arrived which is great, and they have settled in smoothly. Obviously we would have preferred that they had been here throughout the pre-season, but having said that it is the same with the Young Matildas from our group who have been away for three weeks now.
“So it is just a case of juggling and managing, and of course it is the same for everybody. The calibre of players that have come over can fit into any system to be honest.”
First match: v Perth Glory, nib Stadium, Sunday 6 November, 6.30pm (local)
First home match: v Adelaide United, Marconi Stadium, Sunday 20 November, 3pm
Ins: Nikola Orgill (North Shore Mariners, NSW), Kendall Fletcher (Canberra United), Casey Dumont (Sydney FC), Jo Burgess (Marconi Stallions, NSW), Paige Nielsen (Seattle Reign, USA via Apollon Ladies, Cyprus), Georgia Plessas (Sydney FC), Sarah Yatim (North West Sydney Koalas, NSW), Alex Arlitt (FC Kansas City, USA), Katie Stengel (Washington Spirit, USA),
Outs: Teigan Micah (USA college), Carmelina Moscato (retired), Kendall Johnson (Portland Thorns, USA), Rachael Soutar (Sydney University, NSW), Liz Grey (Illawarra Stingrays, NSW), Michelle Carney (Illawarra Stingrays, NSW), Keelin Winters (retired), Hannah Beard (North West Sydney Koalas, NSW), Demi Koulizakis (USA college), Linda O’Neill (retired), Tara Pender (Newcastle Jets), Jordan Baker (Illawarra Stingrays, NSW)