The Westfield W-League began its 10th season this past weekend, seeing some surprising results, some not-so surprising scoring and, of course, some goals from players who wear purple.
Take a look at how all four Pride players playing Down Under fared during opening week:
Perth Glory 4, Melbourne City FC 1 (recap / highlights)
Fresh off her rookie season with the Pride, Rachel Hill didn’t waste any time making an imprint with her new, offseason club. In a rematch of the 2017 W-League Grand Final, Hill broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 74th minute with her first W-League goal and finished off the brace in stoppage time to lead Perth Glory to a 4-1 win over preseason favorite Melbourne City FC. The UCONN product didn’t stop there, also setting up Nicola Bolger’s 83rd-minute goal that helped Glory get some revenge after falling in last season’s final.
Alanna Kennedy and Steph Catley both played 90 minutes for City, who are back-to-back W-League champions after winning the Grand Final in their first two seasons in the league. After playing nearly all season for Orlando as a holding midfielder, City dropped Kennedy into her natural center back position, while Catley didn’t stray from her forte - left back - and was tabbed as City’s captain for the second-straight season.
2017 NWSL MVP Sam Kerr (Sky Blue FC) continued her form, getting the game started with a goal just four minutes in. Former Boston Breakers forward Kyah Simon ended Perth’s shutout bid three minutes into the second half with a rocket from distance.
Melbourne Victory 2, Canberra United 1 (recap)
Toni Pressley earned her first-ever W-League start on Saturday, but Canberra United dropped its 2018 opener 2-1 to Melbourne Victory. Pressley lined up at right center back and played an important role both on the defensive and offensive ends, stymying a number of Victory chances while creating numerous opportunities with her powerful left foot.
Two NWSLers scored in the match, with Kristen McNabb (Seattle Reign FC) opening Melbourne’s account six minutes in and Natasha Dowie (Boston Breakers) put away the game winner in the 63rd. Michelle Heyman, who played for the WNY Flash in 2015, scored Canberra’s lone goal in the 25th minute. Former Pride defender Laura Alleway, playing in her first match back with Victory after transferring from two seasons at City, earned the start.
Other W-League Results:
Brisbane Roar 3, Sydney FC 1 (recap / highlights)
NWSL Players Rostered - Brisbane: Celeste Boureille (Portland Thorns FC), Carson Pickett (Seattle Reign FC), Hayley Raso (Portland Thorns FC) Sydney: Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC) Bonus! Former Pride forward Lisa De Vanna (suspended for this match)
Newcastle Jets 2, Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (recap / highlights)
NWSL Players Rostered - Newcastle: Britt Eckerstrom (Portland Thorns FC), Arin Gilliland (Chicago Red Stars), Tori Huster (Washington Spirit), Katie Stengel (Boston Breakers) Western Sydney: Lo’eau LaBonta (FC Kansas City)
Up Next: Round 2 Fixtures
Melbourne City FC vs. Melbourne Victory (Fri. 11/3, 2:20 a.m. ET)
Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Adelaide United (Fri. 11/3, 4:30 a.m. ET)
Newcastle Jets vs. Sydney FC (Sat. 11/4, 2 a.m. ET)
Brisbane Roar vs. Perth Glory (Sat. 11/4, 11:30 p.m. ET)
Canberra United: Bye
Three Good Things:
- Hill learning from the MVP: The W-League provides a great opportunity for young players to develop and having perhaps the most in-form striking partner on your team doesn’t hurt either. Rachel Hill should return for her sophomore season stronger, not only benefiting from the added games but might pick up a thing or two from the talented Sam Kerr.
- The Wizard of OZ.com: U.S. fans can rejoice, and stay up past their bedtime, as select W-League matches will be streamed on oz.com for international fans. While the first week of the service wasn’t without some flaws (bandwidth and schedule issues in its debut), we can expect the platform to learn from its Round 1 hiccups and provide a place for our offseason WoSo fix. Plus, all games will be archived for those who can’t stay up until 3 a.m. I bought a monthly pass, you should too.
- Numbers are Up: 32 NWSL players have headed overseas for this 2018 W-League season, up from 28 during last year’s campaign. That means more time to see players you know, but also keep an eye on those you don’t. It’s not out of the ordinary for W-League stars to catch the eye of an NWSL coach.