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W-League Week 6: Sam Kerr chasing another golden boot

 

We look at the highlights from the Westfield W-League in Australia for Week 6. The Equalizer also talked to Chioma Ubogagu about her move to Brisbane for the NWSL offseason and her decision to play internationally at the senior level with England. 

Player of the Week—Sam Kerr (Perth Glory)

Kerr had two terrific goals—one from a header when she rose high above her defender—within a 7 minute spell at the end of the first half to give Perth Glory a 2-1 lead over Adelaide United on December 6 in the South Australian city. Kerr now has 6 goals to lead the league in scoring as she aims to repeat as the league Golden Boot winner. Perth tops the league in team goals with 15. Veronica Latsko (Orlando Pride), who scored in the 22nd minute to give the Reds an early lead, shocked the visitors with her second goal in the 79th minute to keep Adelaide undefeated. Adelaide and Perth are now even with 9 points and tied for second place. Latsko has scored four of her side’s six goals this season (one of which was an own goal by Western Sydney).

Goal of the Week—Jasmyne Spencer (Melbourne City)

Jasmyne Spencer, the Seattle Reign loanee, pounded a ball from the top of the box past Jets goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom (Portland Thorns) to finish the scoring in Melbourne City’s 3-1 win away against Newcastle on December 9 in front of a crowd of 3,383. The goal was Spencer’s fourth goal of the season and City won their first game in a month (since Round 2) to move into a tie for fifth with Brisbane Roar. City is now one point ahead of Newcastle in the standings though City has played one more game than the Jets. Yukari Kinga of Japan scored the opening goal and Australian international Tameka Butt added City’s second before halftime while Katie Stengel (Utah Royals) scored her first goal of the season for Jets. Stengel now has 11 goals in Australia after 10 in her first season and is just one goal behind becoming the all-time leading American goal scorer in the W-League. That record is currently held by Stephanie Ochs (Canberra United) who played in the NWSL with Washington, Houston and North Carolina.

Save of the Week—Britt Eckerstrom (Newcastle Jets)

Eckerstrom pushed Australian international midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight’s 70th minute free kick, from well outside of the penalty box, onto the post and clear of the goal in the Jet’s 3-1 loss to Melbourne City on December 9. The save kept her side one goal down before Jaz Spencer’s brilliant clincher two minutes later (see above).

Import of the Week—Elizabeth Addo (Western Sydney Wanderers)

The Ghanaian international and Seattle Reign loanee provided some delightful ball control on the touchline just beyond the goal post before passing the ball to Leena Khamis, who scored her 40th W-League goal in her 100th game, in the 65th minute to tie their home match versus Canberra United 1-1. The game, played before a crowd of 1,321 on December 7, ended 2-2 with the Wanderer’s Matilda Kylie Ledbrook scoring her second goal in as many games in the 87th minute. The Wanderers earned their first point of the season, but can feel very unlucky as Canberra’s first goal came when goalkeeper Jada Whyman cleared a ball well beyond her penalty area and then went down in pain but play continued and Ellie Carpenter (Portland Thorns) slotted a long shot into the empty net. The second Canberra goal came in the 85th minute from their captain and former Australian international Servet Unzular’s own goal, when she was under pressure from South African forward Rhoda Mulaudzi. Lo’eau LaBonta (Utah Royals) thundered a first half free kick off of the post for the Wanderers in the 29th minute. The Wanderers were lively all game and should fell revitalized to earn more points in their final six games of the season.

Note: Australian international forward Caitlyn Foord (Portland Thorns) scored a hat trick in Sydney FC’s 5-1 home win over Brisbane Roar, an emphatic win after the Sky Blues only scored 6 goals in 4 previous matches. Foord is now tied for second in the league in goals with Natasha Dowie with 5, one behind Perth’s Sam Kerr with six.

A chat with Chioma

Last week, Chioma Ubogagu scored the only goal in Brisbane Roar’s 1-0 road win at Newcastle Jets, propelling her side into the playoff hunt as the league approaches the halfway point. She also scored on November 8 in her first appearance for England’s national women’s team in a 3-0 win over Austria, with Rachel Daly (Houston Dash) also scoring. Another debutante at the senior national team level, Manchester City’s Georgia Stanway (19), scored as well.

Ubogagu recently told the media that scoring for England was, “A dream come true and it has not fully sunk in.” She explained that English women’s national team head coach Phil Neville had watched her for 8-9 months before her FIFA clearance came. She needed FIFA’s permission as she had played for the U.S. at the youth team level: “I am grateful to the U.S. but it feels right to play for England and I definitely want to from now.”

Ubogagu further explained in an interview this week with The Equalizer that her decision to choose to play for England, “was partly due to timing and a feeling that I had, which is hard to explain. I felt a familiarity with the English players, connecting with the girls. It’s hard to explain logically; I was impressed with their team culture. They waited for me at the team hotel to welcome me and made sure I understood everything. The team energy is very positive.” She had received a full U.S. national team call-up the previous November [2017] in the series against Canada in Vancouver and San Jose, but was not capped. As she said, “Everything happens for a reason.”

Ubogagu also could have played for Nigeria, and at one time the head coach had asked Tom Sermanni, her coach at Orlando at the time, about her availability. Randy Waldrum talked to her when he was poised to take over their national team job, but the Nigerian federation later backed out on that agreement.

Ubogagu described her process of joining Brisbane, which began when Roar head coach Mel Andreatta had expressed interest in her to Tom Sermanni. The current New Zealand coach, according to Ubogagu, calls himself the “Godfather of the W-League” as he was instrumental in pushing for a national women’s league in the years prior to its launch in 2009. Ubogagu said: “Brisbane plays a 4-3-3 formation and creates a ton of chances in attack. It was a chance to play in another country and receive more exposure, playing time and to stay fit.”

If the Roar keeps stringing wins together, fans will look back on 2018 as the year when new imports from the NWSL—English international Chioma Ubogagu and Japanese World Cup winner Yuki Nagasato—were key to the Roar’s success.

Australia

W L D GF GA PTS
Melbourne Victory 4 0 1 9 4 13
Perth Glory 2 0 3 15 9 9
Adelaide United 2 0 3 6 3 9
Canberra United 2 2 2 10 9 8
Melbourne City FC 2 3 1 9 12 7
Brisbane Roar 2 2 1 4 7 7
Sydney FC 2 3 0 11 9 6
Newcastle Jets 2 3 0 4 6 6
Western Sydney Wanderers 0 5 1 3 12 1

Week 7 matches:

Thursday, December 13: Sydney FC vs Adelaide United, 3:30 a.m. EST
Saturday, December 15: Perth Glory vs Newcastle Jets, 6:00 a.m. EST
Sunday, December 16: Brisbane Roar vs Melbourne Victory, 12:00 a.m. EST

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