W-League final- The big blue dance

Picture: Melbourne Victory Women Twitter

Sydney FC is set to play the title decider at Jubilee Stadium in the biggest of big blues against rivals Melbourne Victory.

Both sides stormed their way into the grand final with Victory winning out in an eight-goal thriller, the second time they’ve scored six goals in their last three matches. 

Former Sky Blue Lisa De Vanna scored two for Melbourne Victory and will be looking to haunt her former club alongside her deadly forward line teammates. 

21-year-old Melina Ayres has been a revelation, scoring eight and assisting five goals this season (including finals), putting her at an average of one goal contribution per game (13 in 13). Ayres scored a hattrick in the semi-final.

While Victory certainly pack a punch going forward, the defensive side of their game has been equally as impressive and goalkeeper Gabriela Garton has been a massive part of that.

The Argentinian has been a giant between the sticks and led the league in clean sheets throughout the regular season.

Despite 2021 being her first season in blue, Garton knows the importance of winning the final, particularly against an old rival in Sydney FC.

“It would be massive to go up to Sydney and beat them,” she said.

“I think all season, for some reason, we’ve been seen as underdogs all year. No-one’s really believed in us but we’ve always believed in ourselves.

“I think we’re all really excited to see how things go on Sunday but I have every confidence in the world that playing well, hopefully we’ll come out of Sunday with the cup.”

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Meanwhile, Sydney FC cruised to a 3-0 win over Canberra United to reach its fourth consecutive grand final in the W-League. 

Mackenzie Hawksbey opened the scoring for Sydney with a composed, measured volley to the far corner before Clare Wheeler doubled their advantage with a well-timed, deflected volley just inside the box.

But the goal of the day undoubtedly went to Ally Green. The left-back intercepted a forward pass and drove towards goal, unleashing a stunning strike with her left foot towards the top left corner from outside the box which is all the more impressive given she’s right footed.

The Sky Blues haven’t been the most possession orientated team (they had 39% against Canberra in their semi-final) but have shown power and clinical ability.

Their midfield has been led by captain Teresa Polias but has featured young, forward-thinking players. Clare Wheeler and Rachel Lowe have been two of the standouts this season.

Wheeler has shown composure, vision and mobility in the heart of midfield while Lowe has thrived in a more forwards role, using balance, ball control and vision to often unlock defences.

“It’s a young team, I think we’ve got the youngest team on average in the competition this season”, said Lowe.

“I think we’re all a pretty energetic bunch, we get around each other and I think we’re all pretty excited.

“We’ve got a nice mix of youth and experience so I think the older girls are keeping our feet on the ground and keeping us focused for the game, but I think everyone’s just super excited.”

The sky blues will be going for their fourth championship and captain Teresa Polias has been present for two of those three previous championship campaigns. 

Polias has been at her best once against this season, showcasing consistency, leadership and her range of passing throughout the campaign. 

“Obviously she’s our captain and she’s got so much experience playing for the club”, said Lowe.

“She’s a really good role model for younger girls, she gets around us and she’s always pulling people aside and having little chats.

“On the field, she’s super influential, a lot of our play goes through her. 

“She’s a big part of our success, but in saying that our whole team are going to have to step up and play really well.”

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