All of the players included in the PFA Team Of The Year had excellent seasons and personal highlights to match team achievements. Every one of them deserved their spot in the best 16 players. The real strength of the W-League however, was best illustrated by those who missed out.
Sydney FC were victims of their own consistency, they had the best defensive record of the season and finished top of the league.
Yet none of their back four made the 16 player squad with Ally Green and Nat Tobin both very unlucky to miss out after terrific years.
Dominant sides do not leave their defender’s many opportunities to look spectacular, although the premiers plate might be reward enough.
In the middle of the park, Dylan Holmes was crucial for Adelaide in a brilliant individual season. Holmes was consistently among her side’s best in a season that earned her a first Matildas cap against Denmark.
Dynamic in midfield, the captain added goals to her game this season. Her brace in round five earned her side a historic first win over Melbourne City.
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Charlotte Grant could easily have been selected at right-back. She played on both flanks but was deployed more often on the right than the chosen Angie Beard.
The Victory captain was tireless and skilful as she led her team to glory, but played exclusively at left-back.
Caitlin Cooper and Courney Nevin round out the other players included in the senior Matildas camps who did not make the team of the season.
Nevin took to the field against Denmark and Sweden in her first caps, whilst Tony Gustavsson singled out Cooper in his press conference before meeting Denmark.
“She’s been really good on the ball, she doesn’t hesitate to get a good tackle in and she’s smart,” he said.
Alex Chidiac is the last Matilda not selected in the side. The playmaker had moments of magic for Melbourne City, but it was always going to be difficult to displace the three chosen players in a losing side.
Still, her form was enough to earn a national team recall and a new contract in the fully professional Japanese league with JEF United.
Cortnee Vine’s selection on the bench underlines the depth of attacking talent in the competition.
Vine enjoyed a career-best season with four goals and three assists. An injury to her knee stopped her when no defenders could. Statistically, the Sydney winger could have been a starter ahead of De Vanna.
In total, five current Matildas and the best defence in the league were unable to break into the best 16 players as chosen by their peers. It may have begun as a season short of stars but it allowed many new diamonds to shine.
Michelle Heyman a worthy Dolan Medallist
12 years and one retirement since she last won a Julia Dolan medal, Michelle Heyman was a terrific choice for this year’s award.
She narrowly missed out on the Golden Boot to fellow nominee Emily Gielnik but was a dominant player of the W-League. She had lost none of the magic in her hiatus and looked just as dangerous as when she burst onto the scene in 2009.
By the end of the season, she had scored 10 times in 11 games. These included two official goal of the year contenders. By the end of round 13, she had eclipsed Sam Kerr as the all-time leading scorer in W-League history.
In her victory speech, she stated that she was playing in next year. This is good news for football fans and for Canberra United. She played a huge part in helping the young squad to the semi-finals but unfortunately missed through injury.
When Heyman last won this award, Young Player of The Year Kyra Cooney-Cross had just turned seven.
What we saw this season was a player with over a decade of experience and fully fit. She played with a smile on her face and joy in her boots. It was a privilege to watch.
Kyra takes her chance
The last three years, the Young Player Of The Year has been one young star, Ellie Carpenter.
Following the departure of the star defender to Lyon, this years race was wide open when the season began.
Into the space vacated by the current Asian Player of the Year stepped Victory young gun Kyra Cooney Cross.
After coming close last year with Western Sydney, she took her game to another level. She developed into an all-action midfielder, playmaker, and goalscorer in one team lifting package.
Cooney-Cross is a remarkable talent, she is either adept or excels at every aspect of the game. She boasts an enviable passing range, a venomous strike and the courage and skill to carry the ball in all areas of the pitch.
Her peers judged her to be among the best 11 players of the season but elevated her further by naming her captain.
Kyra Cooney-Cross took control of games and took hold of the league, the recognition she earned this season is just the beginning of her potential.
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