From worst to joint first – are Wanderers legit Westfield W-League contenders?
No Westfield W-League team has ever gone from rock bottom to a top-four finish, but have 2018/19 wooden spooners Western Sydney shown they can go even further?
When Wanderers hit the reset button and overhauled their playing and coaching roster in the off-season, many expected improvements from the Red and Black.
But nobody suggested new head coach Dean Heffernan’s side could go from collecting only four points all season in 2018/19 to sitting level with Sydney FC at the top with a perfect nine points from three games.
The best performance by a last placed club in Westfield W-League history was Newcastle Jets going from bottom of the pile in 2013/14 to a fifth place finish the following campaign.
An honourable mention must go to Adelaide United, who last season missed the final four by a single point, finishing in sixth place after propping up the competition in 2017/18.
No wooden-spooner has ever made the Finals Series. But this Western Sydney side is a different beast, having left all of the competition in their wake through their first three games.
Wanderers are the most adventurous team in the Westfield W-League 2019/20
Led by their three National Women’s Soccer League champions, North Carolina Courage trio Kristen Hamilton, Lynn Williams and Denise O’Sullivan, Wanderers dispatched 2018/19 runners-up and Semi-Finalists, Brisbane Roar, 3-1, on Thursday night.
An American back three of steely centre-backs Sam Staab and Alex Huynh, and classy goalkeeper Abby Smith, have also raised their bar in the Wanderers backline.
But it’s not only the imports that have changed the outlook in Western Sydney. Westfield Matilda Amy Harrison has added guile and energy to the midfield, while Ella Mastrantonio and Kyra Cooney-Cross are proving to be quality pick ups from Melbourne Victory.
The duo are expected to line up against their former club in Victoria in Round 4 in the next big test of the Red and Black’s credentials at Latrobe City Stadium on Saturday, 7 December.
With undefeated pair Sydney FC and Melbourne City also squaring off next week, Wanderers could rise to the top with a fourth straight win. That would make a real statement that – not only have Western Sydney arrived – but they have eyes on silverware.
Breakout star Siemsen lights up Round 3
Although it’s very early days in the race for the Golden Boot, Hamilton rose to the top of the charts by scoring Western Sydney Wanderers’ first ever Westfield W-League hat-trick on Thursday night.
The United States international shares first place with a 20-year-old Aussie who had not scored in her last 13 Westfield W-League matches, dating back to February 2018.
Remy Siemsen has four goals in three games since crossing the Harbour City from Wanderers to Sydney FC and her hot streak continued with a double in the 3-1 win against Perth Glory on Sunday.
It took only two minutes for her to strike in the Grand Final rematch with a delicate, angled chip over Eliza Campbell and she doubled her tally with an opportunist's finish from the edge of the area.
With import striker Veronica Latkso yet to feature for the Champions, Siemsen is proving more than capable of leading the line for the Sky Blues.
Charley hop, steps and jumps into the spotlight
Canberra United’s American ace Simone Charley had started only six NWSL games and never scored before arriving in the nation’s capital this off-season.
But the 24-year-old college track and field star has hit the ground running on Australia soil in impressive style.
The Vanderbilt triple jumper missed out on qualifying for the World Athletics Championships by one centimetre but she’s certainly hitting her targets in the Westfield W-League.
Charley netted her third goal in her opening three games for the Green Machine in the 3-2 win at Newcastle Jets, following up on her Round 1 double against Perth Glory.
Thorsnes marks return with dramatic late winner
Elise Thorsnes had only touched down in the country days earlier but the Norway international came back to Canberra with a bang.
The travel-weary striker was thrown straight into Heather Garriock’s starting line up but her focus did not fade as she pounced in the 81st minute to score the winner against the Jets.
Thorsnes scored six goals in nine games for the ACT club in 2017/18, before heading to Europe last year and netting 12 goals in 22 games to fire LSK Kvinner FK to the title in her native land.
The 31-year-old will no doubt be even sharper once she gets over the jet lag.
Efficient City may need to raise their game
One of the Westfield W-League’s biggest glamour ties will headline Round 4 as Champions Sydney FC host three-time title-winners Melbourne City.
And it’s the Sky Blues who go into the clash of the undefeated sides in far better form.
City have made hard-work of their first three games, drawing 1-1 at Newcastle, beating Canberra 2-1 with a 94th-minute penalty and, on Saturday, labouring to a 1-0 win against Adelaide.
In each game, Rado Vidosic’s star-studded team have done what they needed to in order to get a result.
But facing a Sydney FC side who have scored seven goals and won three straight, City will need to find an extra gear against their title rivals in what will be an absorbing contest.