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Melbourne City, Sydney FC advance to W-League final

melbourne city win semifinal

Melbourne City beat Brisbane Roar on penalties to advance to next week’s W-League Grand Final. (Photo: Westfield W-League)

Next Sunday’s Westfield W-League Grand Final is now set: Expansion side Melbourne City will host Sydney FC. Both sides did not have an easy road in their semifinals; Melbourne City defeated Brisbane Roar on penalties after a 0-0 tie, while Sydney FC defeated home side Canberra United with a controversial goal. Here’s how the semi-finals played out:

Sydney FC 1-0 Canberra United

Third-seeded Sydney FC (6-5-1 for 19 points in the regular season) defeated host and second seed Canberra United 1-0 (8-2-2 for 26 points) on a controversial goal by American import Jasmyne Spencer on Sunday to advance to the Westfield W-League’s Grand Final for the fourth time in eight seasons. They will attempt to be the first W-League side to win three Grand Finals. Spencer scored the winner in the 61st minute, though some felt that Kyah Simon obstructed Canberra goalkeeper Lydia Williams before Spencer’s shot (WATCH the goal here). Canberra had two late chances to equalize, with Ashleigh Sykes shooting weakly at Michelle Betos in the Sydney goal, off of a feed from Australian U-20 international Nicole Begg on the wing. Kendall Fletcher’s corner was then met by substitute Nickoletta Flannery, but Sydney defender Renee Rollason blocked the shot a yard from the goal line.

The tally was Spencer’s fourth of the season, tying her with Australian international Leena Khamis for the team lead. Khamis, who had two spells with Fortuna Hjorring in Denmark, was the league’s top scorer in the inaugural season of 2008/09 with seven goals for Sydney. Among NWSL loanees, Ellie Brush, Michelle Heyman, Fletcher and goalkeeper Lydia Williams—who just signed with the Houston Dash for 2016—started for Canberra, while Kyah Simon, Jasmyne Spencer and goalkeeper Michelle Betos started for visiting Sydney FC. Mexican international Veronica Perez did not play for Canberra.

The narrow win was Sydney FC’s first victory over Canberra this season, after 3-0 and 1-0 defeats during the regular season, and was just Sydney FC’s second victory all-time against Canberra, along with two ties and four defeats. The road win shouldn’t come as a surprise and was reflective of a trend in the W-League this season as the home team won only 18 games (40 percent) and lost 27 (60 percent) in 45 games decided in a victory (nine games ended in ties). This compares with 55 percent home wins in the W-League’s 2014-15 season and 65 percent home wins in NWSL last season. Sydney FC also defeated Canberra 3-0 in the 2009/10 season semifinals.

Melbourne City 0-0 Brisbane Roar (City wins 5-4 on penalties)

Melbourne City had its most difficult match of the season against Brisbane Roar, with the only blemish on their perfect 12-0-0 season being the 0-0 draw in this semifinal match after 120 minutes. The match was decided by penalty kicks, with City winning 5-4. Before a crowd of 4,941 at AAMI Park in Melbourne—the home of the A-League’s Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory. Lisa DeVanna netted the final penalty after Australian youth international defender Angela Beard hit the crossbar on her penalty.

Jess Fishlock had to leave the match during the first half with an injury. Her Seattle Reign teammate, goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer, had a tremendous game in goal for Brisbane, including tipping a goal-bound effort from Orlando Pride’s Steph Catley late in the first half, when Catley cleared the Roar defense after a telling through ball from DeVanna. Kopmeyer made another fingertip save on Amy Jackson’s curling ball as the penalty kick session loomed. NWSL loanees Kim Little and Catley scored on their penalties for Melbourne City, as did Clare Polkinghorne for the Roar. Brisbane finished the regular season in fourth place with a 5-1-6 record.

Next week

Sydney FC travel to Melbourne City for next week’s Grand Final. City had the upper hand on Sydney FC twice this season, as they defeated Sydney 6-0 on the road in week 1 and 2-1 at home in week 14.

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