Westfield W-League Season Preview

With the profile of both women’s football and our very own home-grown superstar, Sam Kerr, at an all-time high, it’s time to take that momentum into the Westfield W-League season.

Spearheaded by the explosive Kerr, the Matildas defeated the USA for the first time ever en route to winning the Tournament of Nations earlier this year and then drew huge crowds to both Penrith and Newcastle as they enjoyed two further thrilling victories over Brazil.

Combined with the 360% rise in the minimum wage for W-League players, it truly is an historic time for the women’s game in this country.

Glory Head Coach Bobby Despotovski and his assistant, Jessine Bonzas, will be hoping to make history of their own this season and clinch some silverware following a 2016/17 campaign that saw the club come agonisingly close to being crowned both Premiers and Champions.

Fittingly, Perth open their season by returning to nib Stadium for a re-match with the side that denied them Grand Final glory last term, Melbourne City

But before we dive into that mouth-watering Round 1 match-up, let’s take a deeper look into the season ahead.

Glory’s New Signings

Marianna Tabain

The talented attacker is back in Perth and looking to settle unfinished business by delivering a trophy to the club. After spending the first seven W-League seasons with Glory, Tabain then won back-to-back Championships with Melbourne City.

The 25-year-old adds real quality in the final third, with her neat footwork, pace and superb vision and will surely prove to be a major asset to Despotovski’s side.

Shannon May

The club’s first ever goal scorer in the W-League is back!

The 2009 Women’s Most Glorious Player has decided to re-join Glory after stepping away from professional football last season.

The combative midfielder is another quality addition to the squad and very much a part of the rich history of the club having already made 84 appearances in the famous purple between 2008 and 2016.

Danielle Brogan

Another returnee, Brogan has shelved her retirement plans in order to re-join the Glory squad and will bring a composed presence to the backline.

Now 29, she is a former W-League title winner with Sydney FC, has represented the Matildas on seven occasions and also had a spell in England with Notts County.

Nicola Bolger

A Matilda with six caps to her name, Bolger joins Glory from Sydney FC after enjoying a five-year-stint with the Harbour City club.

The 24-year-old midfielder, who featured for Australia at the 2015 World Cup in Canada, has expressed her determination to “help the girls go one better” following last term’s Grand Final heartbreak.

Raquel Rodriguez

The Costa Rican midfielder, known as ‘Rocky’, joins the club from NWSL outfit Sky Blue FC where she was a team-mate of current Glory colleagues Sam Kerr and Nikki Stanton.

The 23-year-old, who was invited to train with her national team when aged just 11, holds the record for the fastest ever goal in the NWSL (24 seconds) and also took out the league’s 2016 Rookie of the Year award.

Amanda Frisbie

Glory have added to their defensive ranks by securing the services of pacy American centre-half Amanda Frisbie who has arrived from NWSL club, Boston Breakers.

The 25-year-old Texan, who has represented her country at U-23 level, is composed on the ball and boasts a fine passing range as well as a strong physical presence.

Rachel Hill

In what has been touted as a massive coup for the club, American youngster Hill has arrived from NWSL side, Orlando Pride.

The 22-year-old forward certainly has an eye for goal having scored 61 times in 89 games during her collegiate career at the University of Connecticut.

The US Under-23 international duly continued her goal-scoring exploits in the professional arena, as she netted eight times in 15 appearances for the Pride.

One-to-Watch: Sam Kerr

From a hat-trick during the Tournament of Nations, to being named the National Women’s Soccer League’s (NWSL) Most Valuable Player, Kerr has enjoyed a sensational second-half of the year to complement her sublime first half of 2017 with Glory.

Her stock continues to rise in leaps and bounds after a standout W-League campaign in 2016/17 that ultimately saw the striker recognised as the competition’s best player as she claimed the Julie Dolan Medal.

All eyes will be on the 24-year-old as she looks to lead Perth to Glory in the W-League’s tenth season.

Full Glory 2017/18 Squad

1) Gabby Dal Busco (GK), 2) Sarah Carroll, 3) Kim Carroll, 4) Natasha Rigby, 5) Patricia Charalambous, 6) Danielle Brogan, 7) Nicole Stanton, 8) Shawn Billam, 9) Rachel Hill, 10) Raquel Rodriguez, 11) Nicola Bolger, 12) Shannon May, 13) Jaymee Gibbons, 14) Caitlin Doeglas, 16) Amanda Frisbie, 17) Marianna Tabain, 18) Melissa Maizels (GK), 20) Samantha Kerr (c)

Key Rivals

Melbourne City: 2016/17 - Champions

It’s been yet another off-season of high-profile recruitment for the back-to-back champions as they look to clinch a third successive title.

City’s most notable signing has been star Matildas forward, Kyah Simon, who has arrived from major rivals, Sydney FC.

The Victorians have also picked up Rhali Dobson from Newcastle Jets, along with Hayley Richmond and exciting young prospect, Sofia Sakalis.

Influential Welsh midfielder, Jess Fishlock, meanwhile, has re-signed for a third season with the club and will continue her role as Senior Assistant Coach alongside former Socceroo, Patrick Kisnorbo.

There’s plenty of firepower and international experience in City’s ranks, with Steph Catley just one of an abundance of top quality players vying for starting berths.

Canberra: 2016/17 – Premiers

Along with Glory, Canberra were the real trailblazers in the ninth instalment of the W-League.

Led by prolific goalscorer Ashleigh Sykes and ever-creative Matildas attacker, Michelle Heyman, the capital side ended up Premiers, edging out Glory on goal-difference.

They’ve been busy in the transfer window, adding the likes of Matildas star Ellie Carpenter from Western Sydney, as well as England international defender, Laura Bassett.

Liana Danaskos has arrived from the Jets and Seattle Reign goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer has also been brought in and it would be a major surprise if Canberra fail to launch another serious title challenge.

Sydney FC: 2016/17 – Semi-Finalists

Sydney are always there or thereabouts when it comes to titles in the W-League and this year is likely to be no different, despite the defection of Simon to City.

The club have managed to retain a strong core that led them to a third-place finish in the league last season, followed by an emphatic semi-final defeat at the hands of Glory.

The Sky Blues have added Matildas midfielder, Chloe Logarzo, while also signing NWSL Championship-winning defender, Emily Sonnett and Australian football legend, Lisa De Vanna.

De Vanna, who has won 126 caps for her country, is fresh from winning the women’s NPL Victoria title with South Melbourne.

Assistant Coach’s View

Jessine Bonzas

“We’re going to use that fire in the belly from missing out on silverware last season in a real positive way to motivate us this term. The motivation and drive is definitely there in every single player and we want to go one better this year in both the league and finals campaigns.

“Marianna has fitted in perfectly, which has obviously been helped by the fact she knows a lot of the girls here and has played with some of them here previously. Even when we played the State Team game the other night, you could really see that she is central to our attacking play and she did great. She reads the play really well and is a lovely inclusion.

“We’ve got Shannon May back this season as well. She’s another local WA girl and it’s great to be able to add such a number of home-grown players.

“Nicola Bolger has been fantastic as well in pre-season; you can see already at training that she’s ready to go.

“She’s super-focused and she’s picked up a lot of the tactical information really quickly.

“We can’t wait to get started!”

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