Cortnee Vine has had quite the campaign in her first season in a Sky Blue shirt.
Moving from striker to a slightly more balanced role on the right of Sydney’s midfield, she has risen to her potential, showcasing energy, positivity and final product throughout this season.
Vine has shown versatility playing on the right. With the pace to get in behind, she has been a lethal weapon for Sydney FC on quick, vertical counter-attacks, often supplied by long passes from Teresa Polias.
But she’s also shown the ability to drop off as an option and then drive forwards, and as an option down the line, using her tight control to win a throw-in or come inside and start an attack.
What’s been most prominent about her season so far is the improvement in her end product.
Vine’s four goals so far this season is the tied best record of her career, along with the 2018-19 season with Newcastle Jets, and she’s also notched three assists, her most in a single season.
The combined goal and assist ratio of 0.76 per 90 is the best of her career, despite averaging the lowest shots per game out of her last three recorded seasons (2.18 per 90).
“I used to be a striker but I’m a winger now, so maybe I don’t get as many one on one chances to miss! I haven’t done any real one on one stuff I’ve just been doing Sydney FC training at the moment but no extra shooting at the moment,” Vine told The Inner Sanctum.
Vine’s fantastic form has come with her most consistent run of game time in professional football.
“When I moved to Western Sydney (Wanderers) from Newcastle Jets, I moved to try and get some game time,” she said.
“Being a bench player at Newcastle, I just wanted some exposure at Western Sydney and unfortunately, they signed a couple of internationals that had the spots I wanted to take. So I didn’t get much game time there.
“Playing for (Sydney) Olympic, Ante (Juric) used to be the technical director there and now is the men’s coach.
“I didn’t move to Olympic to get a link with Sydney FC but it happened and he contacted me really early and told me he was putting together a young team.
“I’ve always said a coach should make a team of young players with a couple of seniors and he literally came at me with that offer, so I jumped at the opportunity and I think that was the best decision I’ve made because I’m getting a lot of exposure and a lot of game time..”
Vine has certainly found exposure at Sydney FC, playing 824 minutes across eleven games this season, despite an injury keeping her out of the majority of Sydney’s last two games and the semi-final.
But her ability and form hasn’t gone unnoticed by other clubs from overseas.
“I never used to think about it (a move abroad),” Vine said.
“A couple of opportunities have come up to go overseas and so I’ve only just been thinking about it now.
“I haven’t thought about doing anything this year, but it is something I’d like to start thinking about a bit more.
“Obviously, Europe is the place I’d like to go. Everyone wants to go to the English league so I’d love to go there but obviously that’s probably a dream.”
But Vine would love to see the opposite one day. Instead of seeing young, promising Australian players move overseas, she believes Australia can push to become one of the top leagues in the world and attract the best players to the W-League.
‘Obviously, the length of the season isn’t ideal. It’s hard to fit in when there’s a lot of other leagues that players want to go play in,” she said.
“It’s hard to make Australia one of those top tier leagues but I definitely think it’s something we need to push for, so you have big players that actually want to come over and play in Australia.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen until we make the league a bit longer and potentially with a few more teams.
“Another thing is probably the facilities and the pitch quality. I know the PFA are fighting for that, they always fight for everything for us, but that’s definitely something that needs to happen. Other than that, even staff members – a lot of teams don’t have that many staff members.
“Comparing it to the A-League boys, we barely get a coach with an assistant coach and physios that don’t have any help.
“We only have one physio that attends 20 girls in a session and you have to start picking back what’s the priority.
“If I have a tight calf but all the girls need to be strapped I’m not going to get a rub that day because there are other priorities. A little bit more professionalism in the league will make it better.”
Vine has been a major part of Sydney’s successes this season, but according to her, this campaign wasn’t actually meant to be the standout for the Sky Blues.
“The conversations I had with Ante (Juric) prior to being signed were to get a young squad together this year and stand out the next year, so this year wasn’t meant to be the standout which is quite crazy to think about because we’ve done so well and he’s obviously over the moon about it,” she said.