Impetus kicks off our third season covering the top tier of women’s football in Australia with Kieran Yap (KY)’s assessment of each of the club’s best close-season signings and Ben Gilby (BG)’s predictions of where the teams will finish.
Key Signing: Shadeene Evans
Adelaide have mostly tried to keep their team from last season together. Although they have lost Dylan Holmes and Charli Grant to Europe and Cote Rojas to Sydney FC, the majority of the players have returned.
One of their most significant additions is young striker Shadeene Evans. The prodigy of the John Moriarty Foundation is poised to make a big impact after joining the Reds.
She has a singular A-League Women’s appearance with Sydney FC in 2019 but has been in the Young Matildas setup and will provide Adelaide with another dimension to their attack after the loss of Maria ‘Cote’ Rojas.
Alongside Chelsie Dawber, she will get playing opportunities at Adelaide, expect her to make the most of them (KY).
Prediction: The loss of Grant, Holmes, and Rojas is going to make it harder than the club would have liked to make their first-ever place in the Finals. 6th (BG).
Key Signing: Katrina Gorry
She’s back. In a huge boost for Brisbane and for the league, Katrina Gorry has returned to the squad.
“Mini” was in sparkling form in the first half of last season and following the birth of baby Harper, she will once again don the number 10 for the Roar.
In an article for the PFA, Gorry said that had recently started training at Football Queensland. In another comment both inspiring and ominous, she stated that pregnancy and childbirth had made her feel “unstoppable.”
Gorry might not be ready to play by round one, but she is a player of rare talent. A pure playmaker, she is quick-footed, has incisive passing ability, and has a rocket of a right boot.
The former AFC player of the year is simply one of the best midfielders Australia has produced. Her experience and ability will be even more valuable in a new-look Brisbane side (KY).
Prediction: This is a very different Brisbane Roar side to the one that had such a strong season before the Finals last year. Their 2021/22 campaign depends on how the large number of local youngsters gel. I’m going for a conservative prediction of 7th but if everything clicks they will be dangerous (BG).
Key Signing: Allira Toby
Canberra’s impressive run last season was cut short in the semi-final by Sydney FC. The swashbuckling side struggled in the absence of Dolan medalist Michelle Heyman after she was ruled out by injury.
Manager Vicki Linton has addressed this issue with some experienced support for the all-time leading scorer.
Allira Toby has two Golden Boot’s to her name from her time with Brisbane Roar and after a goalless season with Sydney FC can be expected to thrive alongside or as back-up to Heyman.
Canberra are missing their other star attackers. Paige Satchell has gone in the opposite direction to Sydney and Nikki Flannery is yet to return from a knee injury.
Toby is not the same type of player as these two but she will play a vital role if Canberra United are to challenge again (KY).
Prediction: Despite the loss of Paige Satchell and Jessika Nash, Canberra still have a large number of exciting and threatening players. For me, they are likely to be part of a log-jam of three clubs trying to claim the last spot in the finals and ultimately I suspect it will come down to them or Perth. With the Canberra side that slightly bit more settled I am just going to edge them ahead, but it could go either way. 4th (BG).
Key Signing: Sally James
Melbourne City has always had a top-level goalkeeper at the club. Last season Tegan Micah was the shining light in a difficult year, before her Lydia Williams donned the gloves.
This season, they have one of Australia’s most promising young players under the tutelage of Rado Vidosic and fellow keeper/coach Melissa Berbieri.
Sally James has been signed to take over from Micah. After a breakout season at Canberra United she has joined City in the next step in her still very young career.
The 18-year-old struggled toward the end of last season with injuries but did enough to earn a place in the Matildas Talent ID camp and then the transitional squad before the Olympics.
James’ arrival is also a sign that despite the difficult last season, City remain a destination club. They are still capable of attracting some of the most sought after players in the league (KY).
Prediction: It will take something special to prevent the honours this season being a straight fight between the two Melbourne-based sides. A City team with Emma Checker rallying them and the late announcement of Winonah Heatley will ensure that the Sky Blues are back to their best this season. 2nd (BG).
Key Signing: Courtney Nevin
Jeff Hopkins has worked hard to keep the majority of his Grand Final winning side together. The defence was essential to Victory’s season, after a 6-2 loss to Brisbane Roar they went on a succession of 1-0 wins to ensure their top-four position.
The newly assembled back four formed a quick chemistry but when Angie Beard departed for Europe it meant that Victory had to replace one of their best players, captain and left back.
Victory soothed any supporter worries in the best possible way. Courtney Nevin is an experienced A-League Women’s player, a specialist left-back and now a senior Matilda.
She may not be as quick as Beard or as likely to surge into the penalty box but she is an excellent defender who can deliver a good long pass or cross.
It is a case of one Matilda out and another one in for Melbourne Victory. They remain as strong as they were last season (KY).
Prediction: On paper they have the strongest squad. Courtney Nevin is an inspired signing and along with the superstar that is Kyra Cooney-Cross and strong leadership from Kayla Morrison, they are going to take some stopping. 1st (BG).
Key Signing: Tara Andrews
It is not really a surprise by this stage. Along with Gema Simon, Tara Andrews lacing up for Newcastle is a reliable part of the pre-season.
That does not mean it should be any less celebrated. Andrews is a loyal Jet and also one of the best centre-forwards in the country. Her power inside the penalty box often overshadows her finesse in other areas.
She can drop deep, drag defenders out of position, and link play through the middle.
Andrews is a difficult match-up for defenders and only needs half a chance to score with either head or foot.
She is coming off her best season so far at Newcastle and at the age commonly considered to be the peak years for a footballer.
Newcastle will need to sign some support for her upfront with the departure of Rihanna Pollicina to Melbourne City but retaining their best attacking asset is a big win for the club and the fans (KY).
Prediction: Newcastle are a side who are capable of producing results far better than their league positions consistently suggest. They were a team I really enjoyed watching last season and are a side who have potential to push for Finals, but it will be results in the games with teams around them in the table which will decide their fate. If these go well, then top six is possible, if not, 9th (BG).
Key Signing: Susan Phonsongkham
Perth Glory have recuited more aggressively than almost any other team this season. Alex Epakis identified the players he needed to improve the team and secured them early.
Among the exciting talents that Perth have added to their roster is striker Susan Phonsongkham.
The Young Matilda in full flight is an entertaining and explosive talent. The prospect of her linking up with Gemma Craine, Hana Lowry and Alana Jancevski is an exciting one.
Of the young recruits, Phonsongkham is one of the more experienced. She has four seasons under her belt at Western Sydney and won the Golden Boot in the NSW NPLW in 2019.
After missing last season, she is fit and primed to light up the league and Perth Glory will give her the stage to do it (BG).
Prediction: Perth are a team on the rise and there is a sense of real excitement about how Alex Epakis will blend a team of youngsters and experience. The arrival of Lisa De Vanna late in pre-season will have a great deal of impact one way or another. The only question mark for me as to whether or not Glory can make Finals is how all the new faces will come together. My heart says Perth will do it, but the closer the season draws, my head cannot help but think Canberra may edge them out. 5th (BG).
Key Signing: Sarah Hunter
The 2020/21 season was one that outperformed most people’s expectations. Following the exodus of national team players and the restrictions on recruiting from overseas, young players were given the chance to start more games and show what they could do.
One of the standout beneficiaries of this was Sarah Hunter. Then at Western Sydney, the midfielder was trusted with a role in central midfield and announced herself with a brace against Adelaide, aged just 17 at the time.
Beyond that game she was an energetic, dangerous and combatative midfielder. Her performances were particularly impressive given that she was completing high school at the same time as she was beginning her senior football career.
Sydney FC finished top of the table and reached the Grand Final with significant contributions from Clare Wheeler and Theresa Polias in midfield.
In the absence of both these stars, Hunter should again be given opportunities to show what she can do.
She has unimaginably big boots to fill in the centre of the park and is a different player to the other two. However she is a huge talent in an area of the pitch that Sydney need to reinforce and is unafraid to impose herself on a game (KY).
Prediction: This Sydney FC team is packed full of exciting players. With Cote Rojas, Remy Siemsen, Jessika Nash and Paige Satchell, they are going to take some stopping and offer the best chance of denying a Melbourne based side another Grand Final win. 3rd (BG).
Key Signing: Lily Alfeld
Lily Alfeld was the first signing by the competition’s newest team. She was often spectacular last season as the last line in a busy Perth Glory defence.
Wellington remains somewhat of a mystery for their inaugural campaign but with Alfeld between the sticks, fans can be confident that opposition strikers will have to earn their goals.
Alfeld was one of the top three goalkeepers last year alongside Tegan Micah and Grand Final winner Gaby Garton. She is a strong first signing by Wellington and will provide confidence and leadership for the newly assembled squad (KY).
Prediction: The greatest of the unknowns in the competition, but a largely very young squad have lost the opportunity to maximise the biggest weapon up their sleeve – home matches – until February at the earliest. It’s going to be tough, but their long term success is the most important thing. 10th (BG).
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
Key Signing: Bianca Galic
Galic’s signing is one that strengthens The Wanderers while weakening a potential top-four rival.
Western Sydney will be aiming for a finals position and have taken one of Canberra United’s best performers. Galic is a skilful, composed midfielder. She will combine with Libby Copus-Brown in the centre of the pitch and provide stability and passes for the pacy attack to do their thing.
Galic was one of Catherine Cannuli’s first signings as new coach of the Wanderers as a sign of the esteem that she is held in.
This is a good signing by the Wanderers that will more than soften the blow of Sarah Hunter’s departure (KY).
Prediction: Wanderers are a tough side to predict, I feel. Like the Jets, they do possess a Finals chance and everything will come down to the games against the likes of Newcastle, Brisbane and Adelaide United. Win them and the dream is alive. If not, then 8th beckons (BG).
Once more Impetus will be covering the A-League Women season in-depth. Our writing team of Ben Gilby, Kris Goman and Kieran Yap will provide you with:
- Match reports and photos.
- Profiles and interviews with top players and coaches from the competition.
- For the first time this year, we have access to all the club media events to bring you even closer to the action.
- AND look out for our NEW weekly #ALW Impetus Impact Awards for player, coach, and incident every Monday!
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.