by Kieran Yap
Wow, what a game what a season, what a goal!
You couldn’t script it, the title fight was a rematch of the Premier’s Plate decider a fortnight ago. On that evening, Sydney FC took the bragging rights, the trophy and the status of Grand Final favourites.
Ominously on that night, Kyra Cooney-Cross struck a late, curling shot to pull one back for Melbourne Victory in that 2-1 loss and in the last possible moment in the final she stepped up again to score the most important goal of her career so far.
At the very end of extra time, with a minute remaining until the lottery of penalties, the Victory playmaker took the responsibility of a corner kick. With the pressure both on her and on a tired Sydney defense she opted to whip it in to the most dangerous area possible, the goal line itself.
It was almost definitely a shot. Regular viewers of Victory games will have noticed that she has been trying this at least once each week. She’s usually been on target but rarely troubled the keeper. When it mattered most it flew in, Cooney-Cross became a W-League legend and the victim of the most delirious game of stacks-on the W-League has ever seen.
The player it beat was Jada Whyman, the 21 year old Sydney Goalkeeper who put in one of the best games of her career. All night she made save after save. Spectacular efforts kept out Annalie Longo twice and a brave moment where she closed down a goal bound Melina Ayres typified her night. She looked unbeatable at times and was rightly recognized as the official Player Of The Game.
Without Whyman’s efforts, the contest could have been over much earlier, Victory pummeled the Sydney goal and on the few occasions that the ball did escape her reach it crashed off the woodwork.
Her desperate lunge to keep out a Cooney-Cross header at point blank range was barely believable, she made this Grand Final the most rare of football gems, brilliantly entertaining yet scoreless.
Of course finals aren’t won or lost by individuals. Clare Wheeler was dangerous throughout, Lisa De Vanna looked determined to add to her remarkable legacy and before she was injured Princess Ibini looked the most threatening for Sydney.
But titles are decided by moments and between them Whyman and Cooney-Cross had the biggest and best moments of the night. Whyman is surely a senior Matilda in waiting and the usually reserved Cooney-Cross was bold in her post match interview about what her future holds, Europe & the national team.
This was a final for the ages and the actual ages of it’s key protagonists make the future very bright for Australian football.
Whilst this is the last of the #MidweekDub for the season, stand by for #DubWrap where we review the season with head coaches and players.
Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.