02/03/2024

Sheridan Gallagher has signed her first W-League contract with the Western Sydney Wanderers. (Photo: Western Sydney Wanderers)

New Western Sydney Wanderers signing Sheridan Gallagher may have just earned her first ever W-League contract, but isn't overwhelmed by the prospect of entering a new system.

Life on the family farm hasn’t changed too much for Sheridan Gallagher in a COVID-affected world.

That is except for the fact that she now wakes up every day as a Western Sydney Wanderers W-League player.

Gallagher signed her first W-League deal with the club barely a week ago. Despite her young age, she comes with experience across the NPL NSW, college football in the USA and the Young Matildas.

She’s the club’s third new signing for the 2021-22 season, with young midfielder Bianca Galic (Canberra United) and veteran defender Teigen Allen (Melbourne City) crossing over just a few days prior.

It was a busy August of signings for the Wanderers, further re-signing seven players including the likes of Rosie Galea, Olivia Price and Libby Copus-Brown.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum, it’s going to be a new journey for Gallagher in a competition she’s never played in before. Helping ease her into the new side will be new coach Catherine Cannuli, who she was coached under previously at Westfields Sports High School.

“It’s a lot better then walking in blind with not knowing anyone,” Gallagher said.

“You’ve always got that security of knowing you’ve met them and knowing what they expect, and I know what they expect of me.

“I haven’t had a chance to physically go in and meet them, but I’ve been really lucky and fortunate enough to have had Catherine and [one of] our assistant coaches at school.”

Cannuli named Female Coach of the Year at Female Football Awards | Western  Sydney Wanderers FC
Catherine Cannuli will be the coach of the Western Sydney Wanderers W-League side for the 2021-22 season. (Photo: Western Sydney Wanderers)

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Cannuli has been involved with the club across eight seasons, and will provide a guiding hand to players like Gallagher after working her way up the coaching rungs.

She started her coaching career as a playing coach with the SD Raiders in NPL NSW2 before joining back up with the Wanderers in 2017 as an assistant coach, learning under Richard Byrne, Dan Barrett and Dean Heffernan before taking the top job this year.

The former striker kicked 10 goals across 55 W-League appearances. She was the Wanderers top scorer in the 2013-14 season, and earned four caps for the Matildas.

Gallagher’s connections don’t stop there, having played alongside defender Danika Matos at the Illawarra Stingrays. Matos made 11 appearances (starting 10 times) for the Wanderers in the 2020-21 season.

“The girls in our team, I played with a couple of them at Stingrays and we have a really good bond. I’m just excited to get out there with them,” Gallagher said.

Wandering over to the USA

Upon finishing up high school, Gallagher was propositioned with the possibility of plying her trade over in the United States.

It’s a unique pathway, and one that not many W-League players enter the competition through. Some come through club talent pathways, while others are scouted and recruited from the NPL and junior competitions.

Gallagher spoke on what made the opportunity to play at William Carey University so unique and different to what other young W-League hopefuls experience.

Initially, she was reluctant to take up the offers, but COVID always has other plans.

“Had the first couple of messages come and I wasn’t interested, I wasn’t really an academic kid at school, just more happy to be outside and play soccer,” Gallagher told.

“Then COVID hit and I was stuck at home and I couldn’t do anything. They sent me another message and asked if I’d like to go and I guess that’s where it all started. One step led to another and then I was overseas.

“Full new group of people, I went over there by myself. Didn’t know anyone, didn’t know coaches, playing people, nothing.

“It was a good experience, especially at such a young age to go across to the other side of the world and leave everything behind. It was hard to leave home, but if anything it’s a good life experience to learn to things like that on your own.

“[My parents] were more proud of me making that step and wanting to do it on my own.”

The USA has famously been a strong nation for women’s football, most recently winning the 2019 World Cup and claiming bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.

Gallagher found out first hand just how Australia and the USA differ in their approach to various aspects of both games and training. Her prior experience, however, didn’t leave her too out of her depth.

“[It’s] definitely much more physical and a lot fitter,” Gallagher explained.

“Just the training is completely different. What they believe and what we believe is two different styles of play, but I guess it works for them.

“It was different, but I’d been over to play twice before in tournaments. I’d played in the Surf Cup and I played in the Dallas Cup when I was younger. I sort of knew that they were going to be physical, and that is a big part of my game over here.

“For me it wasn’t really much of a surprise. I played with a lot of Spanish girls and a lot of girls from Brazil, so they’re a lot more technical than what we would have, even a lot more technical than the Americans. That was a shock for me.”

Having pushed herself out of her comfort zone for the past year, Gallagher isn’t getting a big head just yet.

She’s keeping her goals for the year ahead under wraps, but is still looking to establish herself a big name player in the W-League.

Positionally, while she most prefers to play as a right back, she’s been playing up forward and along the wings as well. Her long-range striking is a particularly strong part of her game.

“Obviously it’s my first year, debut year,” Gallagher said.

“Hopefully just try and make the team sheet and obviously get on the field in the starting XI and maintain that spot. We’ll see what comes from that.

“I’m just hoping to add value to the team and help them out wherever. If that’s up front, I guess I’ll just have to do my job and score the goals.

“There’s not a lot of girls that can hit a 70-80 metre ball, and I think that’s one of my strengths. I’ll be taking that straight into the season and helping the girls out.

“I have a lot of goals for this year and following into next year with the Young Matildas stuff going ahead.”

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