2021/22 A-League Women Season Review: Melbourne Victory creating a dynasty

After a chaotic season, the Melbourne Victory have taken out of the A-League Women's Championship. (Image: Melbourne Victory/ Graphic: Will Cuckson)

Having limped their way to the finals, the Melbourne Victory saved their best football for when it mattered most, once again going on to beat Sydney FC to become back-to-back A-League Women’s Champions.

Like last season the Victory would win the championship the hard way. Having started the season out strong, winning six of their opening nine games, the side would just scrape through to the finals. They’d make up the final spot of the top six in the final round of the season, and were without a win in five games heading into their elimination final against Adelaide United.

With injuries to key players and the chaotic fixture, the squad was stretched. In the end it would matter little, with the Victory overcoming all obstacles put in front of them to cap off another brilliant season.

The Highs

Victory’s obvious highlight of the season was their finals run, which culminated with the side being crowned back-to-back A-League Women’s champions.

Facing the in-form Adelaide United on the road, Melbourne were expected to make an early exit, but would record a stunning 2-1 victory. The side were also boosted by Melina Ayres who returned from a long stint on the sidelines with injury and would have an instant impact.

They’d record another upset en route to the grand final, taking out crosstown rivals Melbourne City in the semi-final 3-1, setting up another meeting with Sydney FC in the grand final.

Once again the Victory were coming into the contest with an outside chance, but would repeat their efforts from the year before to stun the Sky Blues in the grand final. Recording a memorable 2-1 win in one of the best A-League Women’s Grand Finals in recent memory.

Throughout the finals series, they never came into a clash as the favourites, they never boasted the majority of possession, nor did they record more shots on goal than their opponents. But they had the ability to dig deep and ultimately fought their way to championship glory.

Other notable highlights for the club would be their thrashings of both Adelaide United and the Western Sydney Wanderers during the home and away season.

They’d beat Adelaide 5-1 in the opening game of the year which helped set the tone for the season. Their 5-0 win over the Wanderers in Round 11 would also be a highlight, putting in a dominant display, it would be the side’s best win during the home and away season.

The Lows

Though the Victory had some memorable wins, they also had some performances they’d like to forget. Their heaviest loss of the season came against crosstown rivals Melbourne City on Boxing Day.

Having won the opening three games of the season, one of which was a 2-1 win over City, they’d be demolished in the return fixture losing 5-1 in front of the Victory faithful at AAMI Park in Round Four. City’s Hannah Wilkinson would cause headaches for the Victory all night, scoring all five goals, equalling the record for the most goals scored in an A-League Women’s game.

While the Victory were able to get their season back on track thereafter, two weeks out from the finals the side would put in one their worst performances of the season. Losing 3-0 to Adelaide United on the road, Fiona Worts unlocked Melbourne’s defence with ease scoring a hat-trick.

Another low for the season was the injury to captain Kayla Morrison who ruptured her ACL in the opening game of the season. In her absence the Victory’s defence at times was shaky, with the side keeping just five clean sheets after her injury.

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MVP

Midfielder Alex Chidiac put in an impressive season of football, as she proved to be the Victory’s most important player. While others around her spent time out injured or struggled for consistency, Chidiac was stellar.

Though she wasn’t prolific on the scoring front scoring just once and assisting twice, she was the engine and driving force for the Victory this season, and was amongst the best midfielders in the competition this season.

Her impact didn’t go unrewarded either, taking out both the 2021/22 A-League Women Victory Medal and Player’s Player of the season at the club’s recent Victory’s presentation night.

Forward Catherine Zimmerman also put in an impressive season, finishing the season with nine goal contributions from 16 games. Scoring seven goals, she finished the year as the side’s leading goal-kicker and formed a dangerous partnership with Lia Privitelli, who also had a solid season.

Breakout Player

Having made just five appearances last season, Maja Markovski asserted herself into the Victory side in the 2021-22 season, making 14 appearances, seven of which she started.

The beneficiary of injuries and teammates being away at times on international duty, Markovski stood up in their absence and proved that she belonged at the level, and at times was utilised as the focal point of their attack.

She finished the season with two goals, scoring a consolation goal in their 5-1 drubbing to City, and scored from the penalty spot to win Victory the game against the Wanderers in Round Seven.

Still just 20-years-old, the young forward is developing into an exciting prospect for the Victory.

Final Word

Having successfully defended their A-League championship, the Victory become the second side to win consecutive titles, and look on the verge of being the next A-League Women’s dynasty side.

Having retained the bulk of their squad from their 2021 championship win, it’ll be likely the Victory will be doing the same this offseason. And while the departure of Kyra Cooney-Cross, Ayres and Chidiac (loan-spell ending) will be big, coach Jeff Hopkins has proven he can keep his side in premiership contention for titles even if they’re not all full strength.

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