This weekend Westfield W-League fans were treated to what will undoubtedly go down in history as the most exciting round of fixtures to date. It is one that no-one will forget, regardless of team allegiances.
Free-scoring Canberra secure playoff berth
The round of fixtures began with an intriguing battle between the second- and third-placed teams. A Canberra United win would secure them a spot in the playoffs, but Perth Glory had just as much to play for, as three points for them would mean hosting their semi-final.
Perth came into the game off the back of a six-match unbeaten run but were completely overpowered by the team in green, finding themselves 5-0 down at the half thanks to an Ashleigh Sykes hat trick, alongside goals from Stephanie Ochs and Grace Maher. The Perth backline just couldn’t deal with the ceaseless through balls from Canberra, with the pace of Sykes and Jasmyne Spencer a constant threat.
Despite Perth having the opportunity to regroup at halftime, Canberra had added two more before the 50th minute as Sykes bagged her fourth and Hayley Raso got in on the scoring action. Both Chicago Red Stars loanee Vanessa DiBernardo and the league’s top-scorer Sam Kerr were able to find the net in the second half for Perth, but it was little consolation after a humbling afternoon.
The win took United into second spot, as the Glory dropped to third - but despite going down 7-2, Perth didn’t suffer the heaviest of the weekend.
Adelaide secure first win in remarkable fashion
Although Adelaide United were yet to get a win this season they had always been competitive, and were unbeaten in their last three after draws against the Newcastle Jets, Melbourne City, and Canberra United. The Western Sydney Wanderers were having a somewhat disappointing season, as they were never really in the race for the playoffs.
The game started in a familiar fashion, as Adelaide went behind after a cross went straight through the hands of goalkeeper Sarah Willacy. Adelaide turned the game on its head thanks to strikes from Rachael Quigley and Adriana Jones. Sofia Huerta added a third after halftime, but Erica Halloway pegged one back for the Wanderers.
With the game finely poised at 3-2 with half an hour left, Adelaide experienced a change no less extreme than Sleeping Beauty rising from her 100 year slumber, and suddenly they were unstoppable; Western Sydney struggled to get the ball out of their final third, and both Jones and Huerta claimed hattricks, Quigley secured a brace and Alex Chidiac grabbed one, before Ally Ladas finished the rout with her first W-League goal, making it a perfect 10 for the Lady Reds.
The 10-2 final score equalled the W-League’s record of highest scoring game, alongside Perth’s 7-5 win over Sydney FC back in 2012.
Not only was this Adelaide’s first victory of the season; it was also their first home win in over two years. Although they’re already well out of the playoff race, they can hope to continue their fine goalscoring form into their match against Perth next week, who already shipped seven this weekend.
Late playoff push in Newcastle
Although Sunday didn’t quite hit the goalscoring numbers of Saturday, there was still plenty of W-League drama, starting with the Newcastle Jets hosting the Brisbane Roar.
Both teams are within touching distance of fourth spot, but losing wasn’t really an option. The Jets took an early through a Jen Hoy header - the American’s fourth of the season. Just before halftime Tameka Butt made and scored a penalty to make it 1-1 at halftime. With five minutes left, Brisbane keeper Mackenzie Arnold was sent off, but her backup Georgina Worth was able to save the resultant penalty from Arin Gilliland, another player who is on loan from the NWSL.
That wasn’t the end of the drama though, as fellow Red Star Jen Hoy won the game in added time, with a beautiful strike from 30 yards out. With the win the Jets are just two points outside the playoff spots; could it be a late siege for Newcastle?
City’s woes continue in Melbourne derby
The final game of the weekend was the small matter of the Melbourne derby. Melbourne City had dominated both the rivalry and the league for the past two seasons, but since suffering their first ever defeat back in December, they were winless in five - and it only got worse for them today.
Natasha Dowie opened the scoring for the Melbourne Victory just a minute into the match for her ninth of the season, before fellow NWSL-player Christine Nairn extended the lead on the half-hour mark. Jess Fishlock missed a penalty for City in the final minutes to round off a disappointing match.
Victory are already out of the playoff race, but a berth that once seemed a given for City is now hanging in the balance. City need to find their form again soon, as they travel to the Newcastle Jets next week, who would leapfrog them into fourth if they got all three points.