There is nothing more romantic in sport than when a local boy or girl plays for their home town club and leads them to glory.
Whilst the Western Sydney Wanderers have a long way to go before even thinking about winning this year’s W League crown, the Red and Black faithful can be rest assured that western Sydney born and bred defenders Courtney Nevin and Alex Huynh will be doing everything they can to bring home the title.
Nevin and Huynh along with their team mates have had a great start to the 2019/20 season, with the Wanderers unbeaten after five rounds with three wins and a draw. They enjoy the bye this weekend before facing bitter rivals Sydney FC next Friday afternoon.
For life long Wanderers fan Nevin, who started out at the Oakville Ravens in the Blacktown District, her rise to W League stardom has been inspiring to watch.
Last year she was one of the shining lights in a disappointing W League campaign for the Red and Black. Whilst still finishing high school at Westfield Sports High, Nevin featured in nine games for the Wanderers.
Her form saw her picked for the Young Matildas camp in 2019. She spent the year training in Sydney before heading to Thailand for the AFC Under 19 Championships last month.
This season Nevin has been at the thick of the action in both attack and defence. She has laid off 188 passes, created five scoring chances and provided plenty of drive along the wings with her energetic runs and dangerous balls into attacking positions. When the opposition has the ball she has made nine tackles and won 15 duels, a decent return for a 17-year-old.
Team mates have been full of praise for Nevin with star striker Kristen Hamilton praising the youngsters attitude.
“She is so mature the way she carries herself, her knowledge of the game is unique for her age,” said Hamilton after the big win over Brisbane a fortnight ago.
Coach Dean Heffernan even pointed out how Matilda Hayley Raso had to be switched to the opposite flank due to Nevin’s influence against Brisbane.
Teaming up in defence with Nevin is another local girl in centre back Alex Huynh. The Sadlier born Huynh was a foundation W League player for the Wanderers and has enjoyed a strong season down back along with Nevin and American import Sam Staab.
“I was born in Western Sydney and it would have been rude of me not to play for the club,” Huynh told the Wanderers website.
“Honestly, I don’t think I’d play for another club.
“I was literally here from day one and sometimes we didn’t even have change rooms, so it is a massive difference to come back here and see what they have done and to be part of an exciting, new era.”
Huynh and Staab especially have proven to be a fierce combination in the heart of defence.
Between them they have 35 clearances, 39 duel wins and 11 intercepts in four games. The Wanderers have only conceded a league best three goals.
Coming out of defence Huynh and Staab have have completed 545 passes at an accuracy rate of 86%. Huynh in fact set up Lynn Williams’ equalising goal last weekend against Melbourne Victory.
This type of efficiency has helped the Wanderwomen transition effectively out of defence into attack where the likes of Williams, Hamilton, Ella Mastrantonio, and Denise O’Sullivan have done the rest.
“The way we play is very different but we complement each other,” said Huynh of Staab.
“We have very different styles but at the same time there’s that trust and respect and it makes it so easy to play alongside her.”
Huynh has been through the tough times with the Wanderers, enduring many seasons at the bottom of the ladder, however she is excited about the prospect of finals and success.
"There have been a few seasons where everyone expected us to lose and it was kinda hard to go into a game knowing you were always the underdog,” added Huynh.
“It is great there has been such a great change shift in mentality here and that the club is making a huge effort to improve the things.”
Beating Sydney FC next Friday would be just what Nevin and Huynh would love to do to fly the flag for Western Sydney.
Kick off is 5pm at BankWest Stadium with the Wanderers A League team playing Western United at 7.30pm.