After coming last in 2018/19, the Wanderwomen took their fans on a hell of a roller coaster ride this season.
Some impressive wins along with some crushing losses meant it all came down to the final game, and even that was a cliff hanger.
We examine why the Wanderers claimed their first ever finals ticket and what they have that could take them further.
1. Experience and class
The Wanderwomen of yesteryear have had plenty of top notch players. Sarah Walsh, Linda O’Neill and current assistant coach Catherine Cannuli to name a few.
However this season’s team had a number of them, all at the same time.
Wily veteran Ella Mastrantonio has been exceptional. Her coach Dean Heffernan stated she was one of the most technically gifted players in the world, and he was spot on.
‘The Maestro’ has played over 100 W-League games and has represented Australia. She knows what it takes to perform at an elite level.
Mastrantonio added a lot of starch in the middle, she was the glue that stuck the team together.
Whether it was tracking back to shut down opponents, reading the play brilliantly to intercept passes, being ever present to receive a pass from one of her defenders or possessing the ability to use her footwork and strength to get around her opponent before releasing dangerous balls to her forwards, Mastrantonio had it all.
With Matilda Amy Harrison and Irish super star Denise O’Sullivan controlling the middle with Mastrantonio, the Wanderwomen were formidable in the engine room.
American forwards Kristen Hamilton (seven goals) and Lynn Williams (four goals) were the icing on the cake for Heffernan’s team as they combined with the midfield to steam roll opponents early in the season.
The departure of Williams and O’Sullivan was a major body blow, but last night in Perth, Hamilton and Mastrantonio came to the fore as they drove their team to finals.