Canberra United was very much a team in transition in Season 10 - from the back of house changes through to the departure of some stalwarts, Heather Garriock’s first season at the helm was about change.
The side spent a mere three weeks in the top four, and a lack of urgency at key points saw the side unable to defend their 2016/17 Premiership. Adding a loss at home for the first time against Newcastle, they ended the season with a negative goal differential.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom in the capital though, the Canberra side saw some great connections with internationals as is often the case, with the brief but exciting return of Kendall Fletcher and Haley Kopmeyer who kept the side in a few games by her fingertips.
There was also some extraordinary young talent on show and emerging in Canberra. Amy Sayer and Taren King particularly impressed, along with more the familiar young faces Ellie Carpenter and Grace Maher. However, Canberra didn’t fare as well as expected, and will no doubt be hoping for more this season.
Both co-captains from Season 10 won’t be on-field in green this year, with Ashleigh Sykes retiring and Michelle Heyman shifting to Adelaide. Maher will also not be returning, heading south to play for Victory, while Caitlin Munoz hasn’t found a spot in the squad. Canberra have no internationals to welcome back from Season 10, with injuries and other life plans the main impediments.
Rachel Corsie has been announced as captain for the side, mirroring her role in the Scottish national team, arriving in Canberra last month. She joins South Africans Refiloe Jane, a midfielder and national team captain, and forward Rhoda Mulaudzi, along with guest Irish Denise O’Sullivan as international signings.
“When I first got here I expected nobody to know who I was. You have to earn their trust, you have to show that you respect them and you think that they deserve to be here. We start on a level playing field, and you hope that they learn to see that you can add value to them as I expect them to add value to me,” Corsie said.
Heather Garriock has filled gaps left by the exodus with local and emerging national talent. Of particular interest, Meaghan McElligott brings a pair of golden boots, after netting 50 in her Queensland NPLW season. Fans with a sense of history will find the story familiar and hope she fires in a similar way to Hayley Raso, another Queenslander who found her feet in green.
Meanwhile, Nikki Flannery and Karly Roestbakken will both be hoping to return to their best form in Canberra for season 11.
Roestbakken is off on Young Matildas’ duty, returning for round two, but shares her excitement about the new season.
“The vibe in the squad is really good, we’re all pretty excited to get out there and play our first game. Unfortunately, I’ll be missing it, but it’s looking really promising for the season ahead.”