Westfield W-League Grand Final recap: Melbourne City FC wins third straight Championship

Westfield W-League Grand Final recap: Melbourne City FC wins third straight Championship

In a repeat of their 2016 victory over Sydney FC, Melbourne City FC cruised to a 2-0 victory over the home team. Goals by Jess Fishlock and Jodie Taylor took the team ahead, and stout defense and goalkeeping helped keep Sydney off the scoreboard.

aaron_bellamy
Aaron Bellamy

Melbourne City FC have won the Westfield W-League Grand Final for the third year running with a 2-0 victory over Sydney FC. Despite being at home and riding a ten-game unbeaten streak (9W, 1D), Sydney FC was unable to capitalize on their limited opportunities against a strong Melbourne City defense. Melbourne, on the other hand, found a few opportunities and put them away throughout the match. Whichever team that won would be the first W-League team to win three championships, but the fact that Melbourne has done it in three straight years makes the victory all the more impressive.

The match started out with the two teams trading possession. City was on the front foot for the first five minutes, applying pressure on the Sydney back line. Once the pressure finally broke, Sydney took advantage and midfielder Lisa de Vanna had a nearly open shot on goal, but she put it wide without testing Melbourne goalkeeper Lydia Williams. The game was briefly stopped in the 23rd minute when Melbourne midfielder Jess Fishlock took a knock to the head, and the ref stopped play to provide a water break on a steamy afternoon.

Melbourne City midfielder Jess Fishlock celebrates with her teammates after scoring the first goal of the Grand Finals match against Sydney FC. | Photo: Matt King - Getty Images
Melbourne City midfielder Jess Fishlock celebrates with her teammates after scoring the first goal of the Grand Finals match against Sydney FC. | Photo: Matt King - Getty Images

The first Melbourne goal came in the 35th minute under contentious circumstances. Sydney goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe collected the ball and ran to the top of the box. When she rolled the ball out to defender Georgia Yeoman-Dale she was knocked to the ground by a City player running back to defend. Fishlock dispossessed Yeoman-Date, looked up to see Bledsoe on the ground and sent a perfect chip into the goal. Bledsoe ran back, but she couldn't retreat in time. Bledsoe complained to the ref about the interference, but the goal was counted. Sydney had an opportunity later in the half, but the shot was saved by a diving Lydia Williams.

Williams made a pair of saves early in the second half that set the tone for the Melbourne defense for the rest of the match. Williams proved exactly why she is the starting goalkeeper for the Westfield Matildas. She made all three saves that were available to her during the game, although she was only credited with two on the final scorecard. Bledsoe made three saves of her own in the game, and the second goal for Melbourne could have been remembered as an amazing play by Bledsoe if her defense had played with more aggression. Fishlock took a perfect free kick from about 25 yards out, but Bledsoe made the play and deflected the ball off the crossbar. It was a nearly perfect save, but the Melbourne City players followed the ball without being challenged by the Sydney defense, and midfielder Jodie Taylor finished the shot against an open net.

Melbourne City's Jodie Taylor celebrates after scoring a goal to take her team ahead 2-0 while Sydney goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe looks at her defense in frustration. | Photo: Matt King - Getty Images
Melbourne City's Jodie Taylor celebrates after scoring a goal to take her team ahead 2-0 while Sydney goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe looks at her defense in frustration. | Photo: Matt King - Getty Images

Sydney had a few other opportunities, but they could never find the back of the net. 

The two sides will be off until next summer comes back around in Australia, but many of the players will be traveling to the United States to play in the National Women's Soccer League. For Sydney, goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe will challenge for the starting job with the Washington Spirit, and Emily Sonnett will head back to the Portland Thorns. For Melbourne, seven players will be playing in the NWSL. Four of them, goalkeeper Lydia Williams, defenders Lauren Barnes and Steph Catley, and midfielder Jess Fishlock play for Seattle Reign FC. Forward Rebekah Stott plays for Sky Blue FC, forward Ashley Hatch was recently traded from the North Carolina Courage to the Washington Spirit, and defender Alanna Kennedy plays for the Orlando Pride.

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