Round 11 of the Westfield W-League wrapped up on Sunday night, and the winners of the weekend didn't even play. The Brisbane Roar maintained their position at the top of the table and now have a game in hand over all of their closest competitors. With just three weeks left in the season, most teams have two games left to play before the top four teams move into the playoffs. The upset of the weekend occurred on Friday evening when bottom-dwelling Adelaide United topped then-second-place Newcastle Jets in a win that put the playoff dreams of the Jets in jeopardy.
Adelaide wins for the first time since Round Two
The Newcastle Jets hosted Adelaide United, hoping to gain some ground on the first-place Brisbane Roar, but a flurry of first-half goals by three Americans left Newcastle on the losing end. Newcastle forward Katie Stengel, who also plays for the Washington Spirit in the National Women's Soccer League, scored her seventh goal of the season pulling her into a tie with Perth Glory forward Rachel Hill (Orlando Pride) for second best in the league.
The game started out with Newcastle pressing the offensive, but Adelaide goalkeeper Sarah Willacy, who has had a good season averaging five saves per game - best in the league, denied a direct shot from inside the six-yard box and then punched away a floating header off a dangerous corner. The goalkeeper was rewarded in the 21st minute when midfielder Danny Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars) sent a rocket into the top of the net off a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box.
Katie Stengel managed to even the scoreline in the 28th minute with a strike from about 35 yards. The low shot took an unexpected deflection around the top of the 18-yard box and caught Willacy out of position. Adelaide beat the Newcastle defense off another free kick in the 43rd minute when they had a beautiful play set up off a corner.
The ball was played short, which drew the defense away from the six-yard box and then played back to the sideline. A powerful cross was sent into the box by Alexandra Chidiac, and the ball was cleanly headed past Newcastle goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom (Portland Thorns) by Katie Naughton (Chicago Red Stars).
The entire second half was a Newcastle assault on the Adelaide goal, but they were repeatedly denied by Willacy, perfect positioning by Adelaide defenders on the line, and occasionally the woodwork.
Both Newcastle (5-2-3) and Adelaide (2-1-7) will be on bye next weekend.
A quick pair of goals puts Canberra over Western Sydney
The game between Canberra United and the Western Sydney Wanderers was even through nearly the entire game, but a brief period of defensive upheaval was enough to give Canberra a 2-0 win.
The game rested at a 0-0 draw from the opening whistle through the 76th minute, with Western Sydney certainly feeling that they could steal a point or more against one of the better teams in the league, but then a pair of national team players put an end to that dream. First, Westfield Matildas and Canberra United forward Michelle Heyman found the back of the net from the center of the box in the 77th minute. Just one minute later Norwegian national Elise Thorsnes scored the second Canberra goal off an assist from Ashleigh Sykes (Portland Thorns).
Canberra United (5-0-4) will face off against the Perth Glory (4-1-5) with both teams just outside of the playoff picture looking in. Western Sydney (2-1-6) will try to finish off the season strong against the Melbourne Victory (3-1-5). Canberra would pull into playoff position with a win next weekend.
Victory comes over City in the second Melbourne derby of the season
Melbourne City came into the game hoping for a win to improve their playoff positioning, but instead, the Melbourne Victory pushed them down the table with a 2-1 win. City will now need to fend off Canberra and Perth to have a chance at the championship.
The game remained scoreless through the majority of the minutes until City midfielder Aivi Luik broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute with a shot to the top of the net. The Victory found their equalizer in the 71st minute when forward Melina Ayres beat Lydia Williams (Seattle Reign), Australian national team goalkeeper, with her own shot into the top of the goal.
Melbourne Victory midfielder Christina Gibbons (Utah Royals) took the lead for her team in the 86th minute off a pass from Natasha Dowie (Boston Breakers). The game would end after 10 minutes of stoppage time with a 2-1 scoreline.
The Victory (3-1-5) will face off against Western Sydney (2-1-6) next weekend, while City (5-1-4) will try to knock off league-leading Brisbane (7-0-2) hoping to ensure that they stay in the playoff hunt.
Sydney FC holds on despite playing with only 10
Sydney FC has now gone seven games without a loss, including six wins, after starting the season with three straight losses. The Perth Glory, after holding first place through the entire first half of the season, have fallen all the way to sixth after three losses of their own. They will need to find their winning ways over the next two games to have any shot at the title.
FC forward and Matildas star Lisa de Vanna got the scoring started early for Sydney with a goal in the 20th minute. She is one of eight players tied with five goals on the season. FC would extend their lead to 2-0 just after halftime when de Vanna assisted midfielder Chloe Logarzo on a goal in the 48th minute. Things looked like they could turn around quickly for Perth in the 71st minute when Sydney midfielder Kylie Ledbrook picked up her second yellow card of the match and was sent out, but they couldn't get the scoring started.
After an unmatched offensive start to the season, the Glory have gone cold. They have not scored a goal since Sam Kerr's hat trick in Round Eight, but Kerr (Sky Blue FC) still leads the league in goals scored (8) while teammate Rachel Hill is second best with 7.
Perth (4-1-5) will try to leapfrog Canberra (5-0-4) in the standings with a victory next weekend, while Sydney will be on bye.