Westfield W-League stars eye glory in NWSL final this weekend
Two stars of this season’s Westfield W-League will go in search of the ultimate prize in USA club football this weekend.
Hayley Raso and Ashleigh Sykes are part of the Portland Thorns team who will meet North Carolina Courage in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) final on Sunday morning (AEST).
HAYLEY FRONT AND CENTRE
23-year-old Raso has been a standout for Portland this season, playing 22 of their 25 games, including 20 starts.
The energetic Aussie striker has scored six goals, second only to team-mate Christine Sinclair in her side's Golden Boot race, including a goal in her side's semi-final win over Orlando.
Raso has fired off 16 shots this season, nine of which have been on target, and has also provided three assists.
Her feisty nature has caught the eye of officials though with five yellow cards.
SYKES' SUPPORTING ROLE
Sykes has played in 15 games for the Thorns, with 12 of those starts.
The 25-year-old striker scored one goal and provided one assist during the season.
The two sides shared the spoils in their regular season meetings.
North Carolina won their first meeting 1-0 in round two before Portland turned the tables with a win by the same scoreline in round 14, Raso scoring the decisive goal.
HOW THEY GOT THERE
These two sides finished the regular season well clear at the top of the ten-team NWSL table.
North Carolina topped the table with 49 points and eased past the Chicago Red Stars 1-0 in the first semi-final.
Portland were just two points behind after 24 matches before dispatching Orlando Pride 4-1 to reach the final.
THE AUSSIE CONTINGENT
Raso and Sykes were two of eight Australian players to feature in the NWSL in 2017.
Sam Kerr was the undoubted star, scoring a competition record 17 goals for Sky Blue FC.
Raso was the next best with Alanna Kennedy scoring four times for Orlando and 21-year-old Larissa Crummer also finding the net for Seattle Reign.
Experienced goalkeeper Lydia Williams played 11 times for Seattle, Steph Catley was a mainstay in the Orlando Pride defence with Laura Alleway also on their books.