A season of two halves is the best way to describe the 2017/18 campaign for Perth Glory.
Going into round eight in mid-December they were top of the table with four wins and two losses, but then failed to win another game for the rest of the season, resulting in a sixth place finish and missing out on finals football after playing in the Grand Final in season nine.
Not surprisingly, Sam Kerr was the key player for the Glory, scoring 13 goals to win the Golden Boot, and share the Julie Dolan medal with Brisbane Roar captain Clare Polkinghorne.
Exciting young American import Rachel Hill also proved to be a real handful for opposition defences, scoring nine goals and providing a league high of six assists in a very impressive debut season.
The total of 25 goals should have been enough to get Glory into the top four, with only Sydney and Newcastle scoring more, but they really struggled defensively, conceding 27 goals.
One game that really summed up season 10 was the last one against Western Sydney Wanderers. Glory were two down within the first five minutes, then went 3-2 up with 12 minutes to go, before conceding two goals in the final two minutes to lose 4-3.
Glory coach Bobby Despotovski agreed, saying: “That (game) sums it (the season) up. We usually played extremely well for about 60 – 65 minutes in that second part of the season and then lost our fitness and just collapsed.”
He felt that the teams travel schedule was a key factor in the struggles his players had in the second half of the season.
"We started very well but lost our way halfway through the season due to our travelling schedule and inability to train for many days after the travelling," he said.
He also felt the mix of the team was not quite right last season, and that also helped explain why they fell away as much as they did. This seasons squad will be very different from last year, with nine players not returning, but Despotovski is confident that the squad this season can do well.
"We are in a better position now than we were last year, especially with Alyssa Mautz coming back, Nikki Stanton coming back, Rachel (Hill) coming back and Katie Naughton coming who is a proven centre back," he said.
One significant area that is unchanged is the Glory attack, with the irrepressible Sam Kerr teaming up once again with last season's break out star Rachel Hill. With these two in the team Glory will not be short of goals.
Despotovski has also moved to strengthen the teams defence with Matildas goalkeeper Eliza Campbell making the move west. In addition, Chicago Red Stars centre back Katie Naughton has been signed and she should form a solid partnership with the always reliable Kim Carroll at the heart of the back four.
Chicago have also supplied Nikki Stanton and the returning Alyssa Mautz, and these two will be major elements of the teams engine room.
Goals were not a problem last season, and with Kerr pulling on the purple shirt again and American goal machine Hill returning to the squad, Glory will have some serious firepower at their disposal.
In addition to these two, Glory have also secured the services of exciting Young Matildas midfielder Jacynta Galabadaarachchi who should add even more attacking power to the team.
If these three can click as a unit, then Perth will be one of the most formidable attacking teams in the league, and they could score even more than the 25 goals they managed in season 10.
Glory will be hoping to keep their star players fit, as strength in depth may be their biggest challenge.
The bulk of the players outside of what may be considered a starting 11, are very young and inexperienced in the W-League. If Kerr or any of the American imports are to be out for any length of time then the young players will need to adapt quickly to the demands of W-League football.
Glory will also have to improve on their defence if they are to mount a serious challenge for the title, and the signing of Matildas goalkeeper Eliza Campbell will certainly make a difference in that area, as will the pairing of Naughton with ex Matilda Kim Carroll.
Sam Kerr (Forward)
A genuine superstar, and a player that any team in the world would love to have in their ranks. Kerr will once again be the focal point for Glory. The 25-year-old marquee player would love nothing more than to win a championship for her home team, and she will be doing everything she can to make this a reality.
Rachel Hill (Forward)
Having the young American come back for another season is a major boost for Glory. Her pace, finishing skills and ability to provide goals for her strike partner mean that no defence can afford to switch off when she is around.
Kim Carroll (Defender)
Glory’s most experienced player may turn out to be one of its most influential, as she will be an invaluable mentor for the younger players in the squad. Her cool demeanour will be invaluable in the tight games, and her partnership in the heart of the defence with Katie Naughton could be as important as the Kerr/Hill combo at the other end of the pitch
One to watch: Young guns
Coach Bobby Despotovski is aware of the youth and inexperience of some of his squad, but is equally excited by their talents and has singled out 17-year-old Jacynta Galabadaarachchi and Lexi Moreno, and 16-year-old Leticia McKenna as ones to watch.
"I think Jacynta is going to be a player to watch, (she's an) exciting player, very tricky, can score goals" he said.
"But I'm really really looking forward to seeing Leiticia and Lexie playing this year as young players. (They are) fantastic footballers, Lexi is in great shape and Leticia is going to be some player" he added.
Morgan AQUINO (GK), Eliza CAMPBELL (GK), Kim CARROLL, Sarah CARROLL, Jacynta GALABADAARACHCHI, Grace HENRY, Rachel HILL (Orlando Pride, USA), Sam KERR (c), Alyssa, MAUTZ (Chicago RedcStars, USA), Shannon MAY, Leticia McKENNA, Abbey MEAKINS, Lexie MORENO, Katie NAUGHTON (Chicago Red Stars, USA), Natasha RIGBY, Nikki STANTON (Chicago Red Stars, USA), Caitlin DOEGLAS and Jenna ONIONS