Kyra Cooney-Cross was named as the Westfield W-League’s Young Footballer of the month for November. This Friday she will play a key role in the Sydney derby as Western Sydney aim to underline their credentials as genuine title contenders.
Cooney-Cross was the toast of Wanderland in Round One after netting a stoppage time winner that saw Western Sydney win their first ever season opener in seven W League seasons. It was the kind of start to a season that every club wants and the type of club debut every player dreams of.
Since then, the youngster has shown she is more than a one hit wonder, performing consistently in the following three games to show she well and truly belongs in the Wanderers midfield.
Her stats have been most impressive in defence and attack. She has a 60% tackle success rate, wins 50% of her duels and 75% of her aerial duels. Her passing accuracy is 79% and she averages 30 passes a game.
Cooney-Cross had a hand in two of Kristen Hamilton’s goals a fortnight ago as the Wanderers beat Brisbane 3-1 in Brisbane to show they are genuine contenders for the 2019/20 crown.
The 17-year-old is regarded as one of the most exciting young footballers in the country, and this season she has shown exactly what she is capable of.
As well as scoring the winning goal in Round One and providing two assists in Round Three, Cooney-Cross has impressed with her general play, tracking back to chase opposition players, getting herself into dangerous positions and using plenty of skill and strength to get past opponents. A few tricky passes are also part of her repertoire as Brisbane found out a few weeks ago.
Cooney-Cross is a product of the much controversial NTC program in Victoria, which has long been derided for taking promising youth away from senior competition. After moving to Ballarat in 2013, the Queensland native joined the FV NTC program in 2015 as a 13-year-old.
After much success in 2017 in a young NTC team in FV’s senior NPLW team (12 goals in 19 games), Cooney Cross found herself at Melbourne Victory in 2017/18. She played in all 12 games for Victory that season scoring two goals.
Last season was one of personal disappointment for Cooney-Cross featuring in only six W League games. This didn’t stop her being selected in the intensive Future Matildas program this year.
Her performances for the Young Matildas at the AFC Under 19 Championships in Thailand showed glimpses of her potential, but her ability to work with the classy midfielders in the Wanderers team is where she has been most impressive.
With the likes of Amy Harrison, Denise O’Sullivan and Ella Mastrantonio alongside her and Lynn Williams and Kristen Hamilton just in front, Cooney-Cross has flourished in 2019/20.
Wanderers coach Dean Heffernan encouraged Cooney-Cross to learn from her senior counterparts.
“To have those players around a top young Aussie in Kyra Cooney-Cross, she should just be a sponge and enjoy it,” said Heffernan. “She shows a little bit out there too.”
Wanderers fans will be hoping come Friday night against their local rivals may just show even more.