Round 13 of the Westfield W-League was filled to the brim with action as the top teams in the league each held serve, setting themselves up for an exciting final weekend of league play. Four of the nine teams in the league have been eliminated, three have punched their tickets forward, leaving Canberra United and Melbourne City FC in a battle for the final playoff spot.
Sydney FC extends their streak to eight against the Victory
Sydney FC, who currently sits in second place on the league table, has now gone eight consecutive games without a loss after losing their three opening games of the season. FC pulled off a classic 2-1 win over the Melbourne Victory on Friday night, ensuring that they would be a part of the finals tournament.
Sydney FC jumped out to an early lead in the 4th minute, when a poor clearance left the ball at the feet of midfielder Taylor Ray at the top of the box. Ray's shot lacked pace, but it took a deflection off of a Melbourne defender and caught goalkeeper Bethany Mason-Jones out of position. The goal was primarily due to poor defending. Ray is just 16-years-old, one of many young players to score goals during the 2017/18 W-League season.
The second goal for Sydney was an immaculate shot from midfielder Chloe Logarzo, assisted by Princess Ibini. The shot, taken from just outside the 18-yard box, clipped the top right corner of the goal and bounced down into the back of the net. It couldn't have been placed any better and was absolutely deserving of being the goal that would ultimately send FC to the finals.
The Victory got on the board just after halftime when Angela Beard's corner found the head of Lia Privitelli inside the 6-yard box. The goal was the one big mistake made by Sydney goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, who was otherwise phenomenal throughout the game. Bledsoe was recently traded from the Orlando Pride to the Washington Spirit in the National Women's Soccer League. Her W-League performance has been spectacular, earning five wins and one draw in six starts.
Sydney FC (7-1-3) will face off against the Western Sydney Wanderers (3-2-6) in the final match of the regular season. The Victory (3-2-6) will play Adelaide United (2-1-8).
The Jets fly past Canberra to a finals berth
On a night where Canberra United was hoping to make up some ground on Melbourne City FC in the standings, the Newcastle Jets had different plans as they cruised to a 5-1 victory.
Midfielder Emily van Egmond scored twice on the night. She opened the scoring in the 13th minute for Newcastle and then scored the third goal of the game for the Jets in the 66th minute. The most impressive performance of the night came from Katie Stengel, who has been absolutely tearing up the W-League this season. Stengel registered a hat trick, scoring goals in the 23rd, 82nd and 90th minutes of the match, vaulting her into second place for goals scored on the season. Her performance in the W-League suddenly became important on Monday night when her club team in the United States, the Boston Breakers, officially folded. The Breakers players will be drafted by the remaining nine NWSL teams on January 30th, and Stengel's play in the W-League should ensure her a prominent role on one of the other teams.
United did score one goal on the night. In the 42nd minute, midfielder Ellie Carpenter managed to get Canberra on the board. The goal brought United within one goal of Newcastle, but the game really got away from them in the second half.
The Newcastle Jets (6-2-3) will face off against Melbourne City FC (5-2-4), who is currently fighting for the last playoff spot. Canberra (5-1-5) will have to beat the Brisbane Roar (8-1-2) to have any chance at making the playoffs.
Brisbane Roars to their eighth victory on the season
The Brisbane Roar, who have been all but perfect in 2017/18, are just one game away from the premiership after a rousing 4-2 victory over Adelaide United on Sunday. If Brisbane earns a win or a tie in Round 14 they will earn the premiership, but they could afford to lose if Sydney FC were to lose or draw next weekend.
The game started off quite evenly, with Brisbane forward and rising Matildas star, Hayley Raso (Portland Thorns) scoring a breakaway goal in the 20th minute. Just two minutes later it would be Adelaide finding the back of the net, as forward Makenzy Doniak (North Carolina Courage) scored her sixth goal of the season.
Adelaide would be the first one to break the deadlock after halftime when a goalkeeping error allowed Emily Condon an easy header on goal. The lead would only last until the 74th minute, when Brisbane forward Allira Toby collected the ball inside the six-yard box and slipped it home.
Disaster struck Adelaide in the 83rd minute when a Brisbane corner kick led to an own-goal by defender Jenna McCormick. Brisbane midfielder Emily Gielnik extended the lead one minute into stoppage time with a perfectly chipped ball over Adelaide goalkeeper Sarah Willacy.
Brisbane (8-1-2) will take on Canberra United (5-1-5) in the final game of the regular season while Adelaide United (2-1-8) will play the Melbourne Victory (3-2-6).
Western Sydney stuns Perth, who drops another game
Sam Kerr might be the best striker in women's soccer at this moment in time, but her club teams always seem to find a way to spoil her glory. After letting Canberra claw back from a 4-2 deficit to steal a point in Round 12, the Perth Glory went a step further by allowing the Western Sydney Wanderers steal three points despite being down with two minutes left in the match.
The game started out in disastrous fashion for the Glory. Western Sydney midfielder Rachel Lowe scored in the first minute of the match, and then defender Ellie Brush found the back of the net again in the fourth minute. The Wanderers held a two-goal advantage less than five minutes into the match.
True to form, Perth managed to claw their way back into the game with the help of their two phenomenal forwards. After halftime, Sam Kerr notched a brace by scoring goals in the 51st and 61st minutes. Kerr, who leads the W-League in goals scored (13 in nine games), was recently part of the three-team trade in the NWSL that sent her from Sky Blue FC to the Chicago Red Stars. Kerr won the 2017 Golden Boot award in the NWSL; scoring 17 goals in 2017 for Sky Blue.
The third Perth goal was scored by forward Rachel Hill (Orlando Pride) in the 78th minute, who currently sits at third in the W-League with nine goals scored. The positive feelings for the Glory quickly evaporated, when the Wanderers were awarded a penalty kick in the 85th minute. Things looked better, though, as Ellie Brush missed wide, leaving the Glory with a 3-2 lead.
While most teams might have been discouraged by the missed penalty, Western Sydney seemed invigorated, and Olivia Price evened the score at three each in the 88th minute. The Wanderers finished off their comeback in the 90th minute when Erica Halloway put away the game-winning goal. The 4-3 victory was Western Sydney's third win of the season.
Perth (4-2-6) will be on bye and has completed their season. The Wanderers (3-2-6) with play their last game of the season against Sydney FC (7-1-3).