Western United were one win away from walking away as champions in their maiden Liberty A-League season. (Photo: Western United)

After a disappointing end to the Liberty A-League season, finishing runners-up to Sydney FC, Western United’s coach Marc Torcaso reflected on their maiden season and announced the club’s future goals.

Less than a year after the announcement that Western United had joined the Liberty A-League, they were close to achieving a record-breaking feat in their maiden season.

Finishing the regular season in second place – 13 wins and five losses – they produced one of the season’s biggest upsets, defeating Sydney FC 1-0 in the Semi-Final away from home. However, they could not repeat the performance two weeks later in the Final at Commbank Stadium.

Despite the 4-0 loss in the Final, the December Liberty A-League Coach of the Month was not at all disappointed in the post-match press conference. Instead, Torcaso was amazed at everything the club had achieved in the season and was satisfied with the outcome of his team’s inaugural season.

“The one message I’ve given to our girls from the start being a foundation, inaugural team, was set the tone for the next player that wants to play the game or wants to wear a Western United top, and I think we’ve done that,” Torcaso said.

“Being located out in the West – it’s a growing area with a lot of young people, and for us it’s about that, just creating the next young girl that wants to put on a Western United shirt or a Matildas shirt.”

“It’s been unbelievable; it’s been a brilliant ride. Some girls out there had never been exposed to an A-League environment, so having them be exposed to a full season, some of em’ haven’t even stopped- they’ve literally gone from an NPL season to play a league season.”

“It’s quite emotional for me ’cause I’ve got an attachment with a lot of these girls from many, many years ever since some of them were 14. So to be able to put them on a big stage in front of cameras and a big crowd, I’m just proud of that.”

(Photo: Western United)

Torcaso revealed that the core group of the club are set to return next season, indicating that 13 of the 22-player squad have re-signed. However, the club may be without star international players and marquee signings Chloe Logarzo, Danielle Steer and Hillary Beale.

“We’ve already signed up probably 13 of that group which is really good. We’ll look at obviously bringing in one or two more if there’s other girls moving on to other situations overseas,” Torcaso said.

“I’m pretty happy and satisfied with our group of players, and we’ve got a pathway, so we’ve got some good players coming through in our feeder as well.”

Vice-captain Hillary Beale will return back to the United States after a stellar campaign with goals for United. Entering the team on loan from Racing Louisville, it is highly unlikely she will return back to the Liberty A-League.

Chloe Logarzo is the likeliest to return for next season, but she may take a break from the Australia league to play overseas, just like she did between 2016-17 and 2020-22. 

Only 28, the midfielder has been in high demand, which saw her play in the NWSL (Washington Spirit and Kansas City Current) and FA Women’s Super League 2 (Bristol City) in the past three years.

Danielle Steer is 50/50, depending on whether she wants to stay with Western United, take up opportunities overseas, or return to her home country.

While Western United may lose the three players, they have already re-signed premium striker Hannah Keane. Keane was instrumental in their campaign and dominated the club’s attack. The 29-year-old has also been a great mentor to the younger players, allowing them to learn from her experiences across the world.

Keane arrived in Victoria after stints in England (Newcastle United), Germany (FF USV Jena), Spain (Sporting de Huelva) and Portugal (Braga). The latter allowed her to play in the UEFA Women’s Champions League in 2019-20, reaching the Last 32.

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“We are delighted to be able to keep hold of Hannah Keane, the competition’s top goal scorer, for the next Liberty A-League season,” Western United General Manager of Football Mal Impiombato said.

“Away from just her quality on the pitch, Hannah has played a significant role in developing the culture of our inaugural women’s program, and we look forward to her continual efforts in representing our club over the course of next season.”

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