With just one W-League game completed it is too early to be making end of the season predictions. Even so, Western Sydney showed tonight they are going to be a top team this year.
3. Kristen Hamilton Did Not Disappoint
Much was said about the Western Sydney Wanderers and their new players, especially their signing of three players from the NWSL Champions, the North Carolina Courage.
Unfortunately only one of them was on display tonight, but fortunately for the Wanderers she was the best player on the pitch. Both Lynn Williams and Denise O’Sullivan will be joining the team soon; they are both arriving late to the team due to National Team duties.
The Courage player who was able to suit up tonight was Kristen Hamilton.
Hamilton’s decision to join Western Sydney is the first time she has played internationally. There are naysayers who do not always believe that players can easily translate their success from one league to the other especially when the style of play varies. That proved to be no issue for Hamilton in her international club debut.
Hamilton scored nine goals for the Courage this past NWSL season and she made sure to get on the stat season tonight for the Wanderers.
Not only was she able to score an impressive header when she stands at just 163 centimeters, but Hamilton also played the ball to Alix Roberts who assisted on the play.
Hamilton was all over the pitch for the Wanderers leading the team with two shots on goal and setting up her teammates for opportunities.
If Hamilton is able to continue her production and add in the play of her NWSL teammates, Western Sydney is going to be hard to beat.
2. Age is Just a Number
Australia has had plenty of star players below the age of 20 such as Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and currently Ellie Carpenter. That list may be getting longer thanks to the likes of 16 year-old Mary Fowler and 17 year-old Kyra Cooney-Cross.
Along with Hamilton, both Fowler and Cooney-Cross were the only ones to net a goal in the game. Not to mention both of the goals were world class.
Fowler showed just how composed she is by not only winning the penalty kick for Adelaide but also being the one to step up to the spot to take the penalty. Then in her run at the ball she stutter stepped and buried the ball with ease into the corner of the goal.
Fowler is one of the top players for the Young Matildas and she showed tonight that she can translate her play over to the W-League, where she just made her career debut..
Not to be outdone, Cooney-Cross, one of Fowler’s teammates on the Young Matildas made sure to have a notable performance as well. Coming on in the 59th minute Cooney-Cross showed she can be a super sub.
As the final minutes of stoppage were ticking away Western Sydney was awarded a dangerous free kick and Cooney-Cross made the most of the opportunity. From a spot typically used to lob a ball in for a teammate which it looked like she was trying to do it, but then the ball glided untouched into the back of the net.
Whether it was supposed to be a cross or not Cooney-Cross and her Wanderers teammates are happy with the result.
If the other under 20 year olds around the league play like Fowler and Cooney-Cross did tonight this will easily be the most exciting W-League season to date.
1. New Faces New Team
Western Sydney were on a mission in the off season to revamp their squad. Rightfully so, since the Wanderers finished in last place winning just one game a season ago.
A single game into the new season and the Wanderers have already matched their win total and for the first time in club history they have won their season opener. Perhaps the only similarity from last season to today’s game is that Adelaide was on the losing side to the Wanderers.
Western Sydney also got the win tonight with only three subs on their bench and possible starters unavailable for the match. They also went down 1-0 early in the game, but they looked like the team in control for the majority of the 90 plus minutes.
There were times when Wanderers’ players were not on the same page and you could tell they were still getting to know one another on the field. They will build off of their 2-1 victory and continue to improve.
The Wanderers are already miles ahead of where they were last season. They did not score their first goal until week five last year and this year it took just 44 minutes.
Western Sydney does not look like a team that is going to finish in the basement once again. Their highest W-League finish is sixth from 2012-13 and even that seems like a low mark for this year’s team.
The win might not have been the prettiest win, but they got the job done.
If they are able to learn from tonight’s match and then add the remainder of the their top players it is scary to think what they might accomplish this season.