It was the season they thought might never happen, and several times looked like it might never be completed.
But with just the semi-finals and grand final to play – and Sydney FC crowned premiers after topping the table – the W-League’s new wave of talent is just grateful that the competition’s four finalists are in the home straight.
Brisbane Roar will host Melbourne Victory in the first semi-final on Sunday before Sydney take on Canberra United a day later.
Watch Every Match of The 2020/21 Westfield W-League Season Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
The lockdown in Brisbane this week was the latest logistical headache for the league to cope with, and Sydney striker Remy Siemsen – the competition’s third top scorer with seven goals – said the players always knew they would have to deal with a fluctuating schedule.
“We’re really fortunate to have even had a season – with COVID and everything else it was all in the unknown, so credit to the W-League and to Football Australia for all the logistic changes and for getting things underway,” Siemsen said.
“We knew that there was going to be chopping and changing this year and we just had to adapt and overcome, and that’s why we’re just really grateful that we got to have a season.”
Siemsen’s teammate, Rachel Lowe, said Sydney had been written off at the start of the season – something they continue to use as motivation, even after winning the Premier’s Plate.
“For how well the team has been doing, the media haven’t given us a lot of credit,” she said. “We feel we’ve been the underdog a lot of the time. Even when we played Victory on Wednesday (to win the Premier’s Plate), commentators were talking more about them.
“But we’re a young team, with no foreign imports, all homegrown, and going into the finals we’ll keep that feeling of wanting to prove people wrong.”
Get all the latest football news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!!!
Among the biggest threats to Sydney’s hopes of winning the championship is Victory’s 17-year-old winger Kyra Cooney-Cross, whose stunning goal late in Wednesday’s game added to a burgeoning reputation for Sam Kerr-like moments of skill and impact.
Her Victory teammate Angie Beard said: “It’s great to see people stepping up and Australia showing that they have the talent coming through the ranks, and that when we support them and develop them and put more time into them, that they can turn out to be players that we need in the league.”
Brisbane will have to cope with the loss of two key players, captain Clare Polkinghorne and Golden Boot winner Emily Gielnik, to overseas transfers, while Canberra’s hopes rest on the stunning re-emergence of the W-League’s all-time goalscorer Michelle Heyman, after a year out of the game.
United midfielder Grace Maher said it had been “an honour as a teammate and a friend” to play with Heyman, and promised that Canberra could pull off an upset against Sydney.
“We know we had opportunities against them (in the regular season) – sometimes in the finals, tactics aren’t always what wins you the game,” she said.
Sunday, April 4: Brisbane v Melbourne Victory at Lions Stadium, 4pm
Monday, April 5: Sydney FC v Canberra United at Netstrata Jubilee Park, 3pm
Sunday, April 11: Winner semi-final 1 v Winner semi-final 2, venue TBC, 4pm