The young guns making a name for themselves in the Westfield W-League 2018/19 Season
Year after year, Westfield W-League clubs unearth youngsters from across the country, putting them in the national spotlight.
Sam Kerr, Elise Kellond-Knight and Clare Polkinghorne are just some of the names who started out as bright-eyed teenagers and developed into world-beating Westfield Matildas.
The 2018/19 Season is no different, with a number of teenagers being thrown into testing conditions and passing with flying colours.
We take a look at some of the best performers of the 2018/19 Season who have made a name for themselves in their breakout years.
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Blissett has had quite the journey on her way to becoming a Westfield W-League star.
Born in Albury-Wodonga, the youngster played her junior football in the NSW NPL with Blacktown Spartans and Marconi Stallions, before eventually playing for South Melbourne in the Women’s Victoria NPL final in 2018.
Her stellar season with South Melbourne earned her a contract with Melbourne City, where she signed as an 18-year-old and has since made four starts and two appearances off the bench.
It’s a remarkable journey for the defender who has gone from NPL grand finalist to Westfield W-League starlet in the space of a few months.
Having only made her debut in Round 11 of the Westfield W-League, you can be forgiven for thinking we’re jumping the gun by including Shadeene 'Shay' Evans in this piece.
However, the 17-year-old has forged an inspirational path for girls her age, trading the fields of Borroloola for the glamour of Sydney FC.
Evans was thrown into the action in Sydney FC’s 3-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers, tasting just over 10 minutes of Westfield W-League action.
She moved to Sydney when she was 13-years-old, graduating from the John Moriarty Football program, and eventually studying at Westfields Sports High.
With one appearance under her belt, the sky is the limit for Evans who’s already come so far in such a short amount of time.
Perth Glory’s young midfielder announced herself to Australian fans in the best way possible.
With her side 4-2 down — and one player down! — in their Round 2 clash against Canberra United, McKenna had nothing to lose.
As it turned out, she had a lot to gain when she let fly from outside the box, smashing a fizzing strike past Canberra’s helpless Sham Khamis.
Since then, McKenna has added a second goal to her tally on her way to seven starts and two appearances off the bench.
At only 16 years of age, McKenna has already cemented herself as a crucial part in Bobby Despotovski’s side — who knows how far she can go?
Competing against McKenna in the midfield is Western Sydney Wanderers’ young gun Nevin.
The 16-year-old has made six appearances for the Wanderers, including five starts, off the back of two solid seasons with the NSW Institute in the NSW Women’s NPL.
Nevin was part of Gary van Egmond’s squad that competed in the first phase of qualification for the 2019 AFC U19 Women’s Championship™, playing alongside stars such as Princess Ibini, Amy Sayer and Karly Roestbakken.
Pountney represents the perfect progression from Academy product to first-team player.
The 18-year-old came climbed through the ranks of the Academy and has since made three appearances off the bench for the club in the Westfield W-League.
Pountney trained with Newcastle’s senior squad during the 2017/18 Season, a massive show in confidence for the youngster by Craig Deans.
When Riley scored her first ever goal in the Westfield W-League, the 17-year-old knew nothing about it.
Yuki Nagasato’s corner sailed over Western Sydney Wanderers’ first line of defence, and into the backside of Riley.
There aren’t many better ways to celebrate your 17th birthday than by scoring a crucial goal in a tight Westfield W-League encounter.
It’s been quite the breakout season for Riley who’s made three starts and four substitute appearances for a Brisbane Roar outfit that are vying for their second consecutive Championship.
It may be her second season in the Westfield W-League, but Simonsen gets an honourable mention because 2018/19 was the campaign in which she finally graced the pitch for the Western Sydney Wanderers.
The goalkeeper, signed in 2017 following a stellar season with NSW WNPL Champions Manly United, debuted in the same game in which Indiah-Paige Riley grabbed her first ever Westfield W-League goal.
That came in the Wanderers’ 3-1 loss to Brisbane at Lions Stadium.
Since then, Simonsen has started the next two fixtures in a row, seeking to make the No.1 goalkeeping position her own.
This list has had a couple of 16-year-olds, but none younger.
That is until now, as we introduce Melbourne City’s Nia Stamatopoulos.
The youngster became the fourth youngest player in Westfield W-League history, and the youngest in Melbourne City’s history, when she started in City’s Round 1, 2-0 loss to Canberra United.
Overall, Stamatopoulos has made one start in the Westfield W-League and three appearances off the bench — an incredible achievement when one considers her age and the plethora of internationals gracing Melbourne City’s squad.
Alongside Pountney in the Newcastle Jets Academy has been the impressive Tamplin.
The youngster played together in the Academy before Tamplin made her Westfield W-League debut in Newcastle’s 3-1 win over Perth Glory in Round 11.
Tamplin played 72 minutes, grabbing two interceptions and making three successful crosses.