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Grainey: NWSL players had big impact Down Under

Sam Kerr scored in the W-League semifinal, but her Sydney FC side lost leaving the Flash midfielder disappointed yet again. (Photo Copyright Meg Linehan for The Equalizer)

Season six of Australia’s Westfield W-League is headed to the Grand Final this weekend after a dramatic weekend of semifinal play that was covered in NWSL fingerprints. We review the semi-professional league’s 2013-14 season from an NWSL perspective, as a number of Americans were loaned to teams from NWSL sides, plus there are a few internationals that will play in NWSL for the first time in 2014.

 

The Washington Spirit should be most encouraged by the play of one forward, two midfielders and one goalkeeper who played Down Under this winter. Midfielder Lori Lindsey added two goals for Canberra United, who won the Premiership (the regular season title). New signing Jodie Taylor won the Golden Boot for leading the league in scoring with 10 with Sydney FC, who lost out on top spot after falling to Canberra 2-1 at home on the final weekend. The English native played collegiately for Oregon State, in the W-League for Boston Renegades, Ottawa Fury and Pali Blues and professionally in England, Sweden and in Australia with Melbourne Victory. Taylor is a significant upgrade for the Spirit’s offense, which scored the fewest goals (16) in 22 games last season in NWSL. Midfielder Tori Huster scored twice for the Western Sydney Wanderers. Huster, who played collegiately at Florida State, played for the Newcastle Jets last season. Spirit backup goalkeeper Chantel Jones was the starter for fifth place Perth Glory in all of their games, recording five victories with two shutouts. Perth missed the playoffs after making the semifinals last season for the first time ever in their history.

The Portland Thorns made international waves by signing German international goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, who dethroned Abby Wambach as FIFA Women’s Player of the Year for 2013. Angerer was in goal when Germany won the European Championships in Sweden last summer. Angerer missed a few starts for Brisbane Roar through injury and traveling to Switzerland to receive her FIFA Player of the year award but was a strong addition for the Roar, who finished tied for third with Melbourne but in fourth due to goal difference.  She was in goal for Brisbane’s semifinal upset of Canberra.

Boston Breakers’ Norwegian forward Lisa Marie Woods, who played at Oakland University and Middle Tennessee State University as well as for the Ottawa Fury and FC Indiana, scored one goal for Adelaide United. Though the team from South Australia finished in sixth place, they won more games (3) and achieved more points (13) than they ever had in five previous league seasons. Australian international striker Kyah Simon sat out the W-League season for the Western Sydney Wanderers and is expected to miss the 2014 NWSL season with Boston after sustaining an ACL injury during Australia’s 4-0 loss to the U.S. last October in San Antonio. American Shawna Gordon, who was on the Breakers’ practice squad roster last year as an amateur, scored once for the two-year old Wanderers, who finished seventh and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

Seattle Reign FC has signed American midfielder Kendall Fletcher, who played at the University of North Carolina and with Los Angeles, St. Louis and Sky Blue FC in WPS. She played this season with Canberra and scored one goal and won a Player of the Week Award. She has previously played for Melbourne Victory and now defunct Central Coast Mariners and has one U.S. national team cap. Midfielder Jess Fishlock of Wales had two goals for Melbourne Victory, and added another in Sunday’s 3-2 win that dethroned Sydney FC as league champs. Victory lost the league final last year to Sydney by a 3-1 score. American defender Lauren Barnes joined the Victory with three games left to help boost the side while New Zealand international Katie Hoyle was away on national team duty and Emma Checker, the South Australian born stopper, missed games due to an injury. Barnes paid dividends in the semifinal by converting the tie-breaking penalty in the 71st minute.  Australian international midfielder Emily Van Egmond, who played briefly for the Reign late last season, scored once for the Western Sydney Wanderers. Having played for the Flash in WPSL Elite in 2012, look for Van Egmond to land a spot with an NWSL or a top European side for the summer season.

Sky Blue’s Australian international forwards did well in the W-League this season; Lisa DeVanna of Melbourne Victory had seven goals to tie for second among league scorers while Caitlin Foord had five goals (tied for 8th) for the defending league champions Sydney FC.

Stephanie Ochs scored only once in 22 games for the Spirit in 2013 and was recently acquired by the expansion Houston Dash. In Australia, Ochs scored 6 times to finish tied for fifth in league scoring for regular season champion Canberra.

Western New York Flash’s Australian international forward Samantha Kerr had three goals for Sydney FC, after scoring 6 goals last season for the NWSL runner up Flash.  Kerr also scored in a losing semifinal effort.

Only the Chicago Red Stars and FC Kansas City had no current players in Australia this season.

Australia Westfield W-League 2013-14 Leading Goal Scorers
Club Name, Goals
Sydney FC Jodie Taylor, 10
Melbourne Victory Caitlin Friend, 7
Melbourne Victory Lisa De Vanna, 7
Canberra United Michelle Heyman, 7
Western Sydney Wanderers Catherine Cannuli, 6
Perth Glory Kathryn Gill, 6
Canberra United Stephanie Ochs, 6
Sydney FC Caitlin Foord, 5
Brisbane Roar Katrina-Lee Gorry, 5
Sydney FC Leena Khamis, 5
Sydney FC Nicola Bolger, 5
Brisbane Roar Hayley Raso, 4
Perth Glory Rosie Sutton, 4
Brisbane Roar Tameka Butt,
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Tim Grainey is a contributor to The Equalizer. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham was released in 2012.

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