Sydney FC star Veronica Latsko has recounted the crazy week leading up to a unique W-League Grand Final with worldwide attention.
Despite becoming the first W-League Grand Final to be played in front of empty stands, Melbourne City's 1-0 triumph over Sydney FC captured the attention of the football world for a brief moment.
“We knew that we were going to be the only game playing, really in the world,” Latsko, who also plays for NWSL side Houston Dash, told Texas Sports Nation.
“Not only that, it’s the final so it’s the biggest game of the season. All of us were just so excited to be able to play the sport that we love and it didn’t matter if there was one person in the stands or 50,000.
“The week leading up to it was a bit stressful with everything going on with the coronavirus and us trying to figure out flights back home because a couple of us — the international girls — had our flights canceled a week before the final,” Latsko said. “It was crazy. But after it got sorted, we landed in Melbourne the day before the game and everybody was just hyperfocused.”
Despite matching the W-League's runaway undefeated champions for much of the match, a cruel goalkeeping error from Sky Blue keeper Aubrey Bledsoe eventually cost Sydney a chance at an unlikely upset.
Latsko said the Covid-19 situation in Australia was eery, leading to the players feeling disbelief when the game actually went ahead.
“It was almost as if Australia was a couple weeks behind the rest of the world,” she said.
“Not in the sense that they weren’t treating the coronavirus as serious, but it wasn't as prevalent in their country as other parts of the world.
“It really hadn't caught up with us too much (but) come the day before the grand final, we were honestly pretty shocked that we were still going to be continuing with it, given how everyone else in the world had responded.”
Latsko believes that despite suffering an interrupted W-League season where a late start to her campaign saw her play second fiddle to eventual golden boot winning teammate Remy Siemsen, her campaign with Sydney was confidence boosting.
“I would say that just the whole season during the W-League helped build my confidence. I felt like I was improving every game that I played in,” she said.
“I'm hoping that over these next few weeks that I'm able to just keep building on that and keep up this confidence and momentum going into the season with the girls.”