Melbourne City repeats as W-League Champions

Tim Grainey February 12, 2017 12
Lydia Williams holds Melbourne City's newest hardware as the team celebrate winning the W-League Grand Final. (photo courtesy Melbourne City)

Lydia Williams holds Melbourne City’s newest hardware as the team celebrate winning the W-League Grand Final. (photo courtesy Melbourne City)

Melbourne City used goals from two of their Seattle Reign loanees to defeat host Perth Glory 2-0 on Sunday, February 12th to win the Westfield W-League Grand Final for the second time in their two years in the league. Wales international and head coach Jess Fishlock scored just before the half, slotting a ball just inside the post from near the penalty spot, and then Bev Yanez sealed the match in the 76th minute with a long range shot from the left wing that slotted in under the bar and over Glory goalkeeper Gabrille Dal Busco. Fishlock finished the year with eight goals while Yanez had two.

City was the first side to ever defend a W-League title and is tied with Brisbane Roar, Canberra United and Sydney FC with two Grand Final wins each (Melbourne Victory won once in 2013/14). Perth Glory drew a record Grand Final crowd to nib Stadium of 4,591, besting the previous high of 4,544 set in Brisbane during the league’s first season in 2008/09.

Perth lost their second Grand Final—both at home—in three seasons despite outshooting City (20-13 on shots in total and 6-3 for shots on goal) and is now tied with Sydney FC with two Grand final losses—one behind Brisbane Roar’s three (Canberra United and Melbourne Victory have each lost one title match). Melbourne City was only the second team to finish fourth in the regular season and win the Grand Final, after Sydney FC in 2012/13. City overcame a six-game winless streak after winning four straight to open the season, but secured a playoff berth with two wins to close out the season. Perth tied for first in points in 2016/17 with 23, losing the Premiership crown on goal difference to Canberra, a substantial improvement over their 11 points and eighth place finish last season.

For City, NWSL loanees Lydia Williams (Houston Dash), Laura Alleway (Orlando Pride), Steph Catley (Orlando Pride), Jess Fishlock, Lauren Barnes and Bev Yanez (all Seattle Reign) and Erika Tymrak (FC Kansas City) all started the game, along with Rebekah Stott who will join the Reign this season. Yanez subbed out in the 87th minute while Tymrak went off late in injury time. Fishlock, Alleway and Aivi Luik (ex-University of Reno and FC Indiana in WPSL/W-League) each won their third Grand Final. The Reign will have five members of the City champions (along with Larissa Crummer, who led the league in scoring last season but missed the playoffs with a broken foot) for the 2017 season, which should encourage head coach Laura Harvey, whose side missed the playoffs in 2016 by two points after making the NWSL Final in 2015 and 2016.

For Perth, Alyssa Mautz, Vanessa DiBernardo (both Chicago Red Stars), Samantha Kerr and Nikki Stanton (both Sky Blue FC) and Ari Romero (ex-Houston Dash) all started the match, with DiBernardo subbing out in the 83rd minute.

  • Calci0

    Fishlock is collecting alot of Trophies, I’m sure she’d like to bring a postseason Trophy home for the Reign too!

    • Movement

      She would trade every single one of those trophies to be able to play in “Just One” FIFA Women’s World Cup (while playing for Wales). Guaranteed.

    • Steglitz49

      The ladies Champions League in 2015. Maybe a future head coach of the USWNT in the making?

      • Cc W

        Fishlock will be coaching someone when she retires – but I’m not sure it will be the USWNT – she’s much too honest and probably demanding. After she retires, I suspect she’ll be on LH’s staff for a bit, but eventually she’ll get her shot at running a team – I’d think it would be in Europe first.

        • Steglitz49

          Jess has a Green Card. She may prefer to live in the US of A.

          • Cc W

            Yes I know that, but I’m not sure her first coaching gig outside of Australia will be in the US, more likely Europe as there are more jobs, more leagues.

  • Calci0

    Also with 4 Reign players on the squad, it’ll be interesting to see if they can continue their success!

  • FawcettFan14

    Money wins in the end.
    Kudos to Fishlock for putting this team on her back.

  • Steglitz49

    It could be argued that this truly is a “Vacation” League.

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  • Rdalford

    Off-topic, but slightly related to Australian W-league
    Boston announced re-signing of Natasha Dowie.
    Boston (who originally signed Dowie in 2016) had previously (Oct 2016) exercised contract option for 2017, so the re-signing is for a re-negotiated new contract (perhaps at higher $$ given increase in player Min to $15k and A+E deal).
    full announcement text is on Boston wen site,

    (Feb. 13, 2017) – The Boston Breakers announced today the re-signing of forward Natasha Dowie, pending receipt of her P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC). Per team and league policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Dowie, 28, most recently set a franchise record for the Melbourne Victory, scoring nine goals during the 2016-2017 Westfield W-League season in Australia. She was named to the PFA Jetts W-League Team of the Season.

    “I’m delighted to be joining back up with the Boston Breakers,” Dowie said. “I really enjoyed my short spell there at the end of last season. There has been some strong additions to the squad, and I can’t wait for training to start. It’s a beautiful city, a great club, and I felt a lot of support from the fans last year. I’m enjoying my soccer right now, and I’m really looking forward to the new season.”

  • Yanez’s shot was more a cross gone awry, and misjudging it was exactly what doomed Perth’s keeper.

    Melbourne City has had its struggles this season, the biggest of which is they don’t have a true striker (they played Catley up high for the first several games!) and even if Crummer hadn’t come back from injury and immediately broken her other foot, she’s not a goal-scoring machine. Tymrak hasn’t worked well in their setup, Galabadaarachchi was game for anything but seemed to be a bit green and left off near the end of the season for developmental issues, and they lost their coach halfway through the season. The last part is probably more a blessing than anything, as I think it shows Fishlock will be a great coach in a few years, but coach-playing is too much, and I think you saw that strain particularly with her missed penalty late in the season.

    All the rambling to say, this team shouldn’t have conceivably won the league. Canberra, Sydney, and Perth were all clear favourites. They all had world-class pure strikers, they’d performed well against City earlier in the season, and Sam Kerr was on fire. Coming into the final, Perth had home field advantage, an extra day’s rest, more sub power, and hadn’t played OT in their last finals match. And yet. Sometimes, it’s just about how you perform as a team on the day, and also some luck and individual performances (Fishlock, mostly Williams, and Allen and Ayers absolutely working their asses off).

    Interestingly enough, the Reign players have been on the complete flip side of that not once but twice in the NWSL.

    So it goes.