The 2017-18 season was a frustrating one for Wanderers fans.
Western Sydney were hard to beat in most games, but struggles in the front third plus defensive lapses at crucial times led to an eighth-place finish.
An opening day defeat to Newcastle was followed by a dramatic 2-1 win over Adelaide before the Red and Black had their backs to the wall after losing three of their next four games, a period in which they scored only two goals.
The Wanderers briefly kept their slim finals hopes alive with another win over Adelaide in Round 8, but their fate was sealed after conceding late goals to Melbourne City and Canberra United in their next two games. Their second clash with Victory started with promise, but again they failed to hold on to the lead as the two sides drew yet again 1-1.
They finally found their shooting boots in Round 13, coming from behind to defeat Perth 4-3 and register only their third win in 2017-18, but the season ended with a disappointing 4-1 defeat at the hands of Sydney.
After a difficult past few seasons, the Wanderers are finally looking like a team ready to challenge for some silverware.
There is a different vibe emanating from the club this time around; a deep excitement can be felt from the fans as well as from the players, their optimism bolstered by an enviable off-season recruitment blitz and an enthusiastic social media campaign.
Newly-appointed head coach Daniel Barrett has been key to starting this new chapter in WSW history. Barrett made his intentions clear in August when he told The Women’s Game: “I’ve always been in finals; that’s a record I’d like to keep, that’s just something I always set for myself: number one finishing in the top four and then look to go beyond that.”
Wanderers have been on the front foot when it comes to signing the best and brightest, looking to other W-League clubs and dipping into various NPLW clubs to find potential stars.
Erica Halloway is back in red and black after a successful 2018 season with the Illawarra Stingrays in the NSW NPL and is joined by her Stingrays team-mate Liana Danaskos, a crafty midfielder who has played previously with the Jets and Canberra. They will be joined by veteran Caitlin Jarvie, who was part of WSW in their inaugural season in 2012. She returns to the W-League after playing abroad in Spain and representing Australia at the 2017 Futsal World Cup.
This isn’t to suggest that WSW are shying away from young or undiscovered talent. Young Matildas Susan Phonsongkham and Rachel Lowe make their returns to the club, hoping to secure spots in the starting XI after making irregular appearances last season. Goalkeeper Jada Whyman is back for her fourth year, having recently earned a call-up to the Matildas side for their France and England friendlies.
Phonsongkham, Lowe, and Whyman undoubtedly played a role in attracting their Young Matildas teammate Courtney Nevin to the club, the left-footed free kick wizard signing her first ever W-League contract for the red and black.