Three-time premiers and two-time champions Canberra United will look to right their wrongs from last year and make a charge at yet another W-League title.

Last Season
W-League: 1st
Finals: Semi-final

They’ll win because…
In the past nine years of the Westfield W-League Canberra United have finished outside the top four just once, narrowly missing out on a finals appearance in 2012/13 and this season will be no exception as they look to uphold a formidable record.

United managed to hold onto the competitions top scorer from last year in Ashleigh Sykes whilst bolstering their backline with a number of strong signings and plucking a handful of incredibly promising young talent plying their trade with the young Matildas.

The side from the nation’s capital leads the league in premierships won with three over the past nine years and under new coach Heather Garriock Canberra will look to right their wrongs from last season and go on the lift their third W-League title in February next year.

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They’ll be cellar dwellers because…
While Canberra has recruited well in the offseason bringing in an almost completely new defensive line they have lost a great deal of experience both at the back and across the rest of the field.

Co-captain Ellie Brush joins goalkeeper Trudy Burke at the Western Sydney Wanderers while skillful forward Jasmyne Spencer has returned home to the United States. The side may struggle to get off to a good start with just one home game in the first four rounds which may leave them trailing the leaders early on.

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Talk around the watercooler…
One of a number of new faces in the capital is young Matilda Ellie Carpenter, a 17-year old Dubbo native making quite a name for herself as women’s football continues to grow in Australia.

Leading the charge for the next generation of home-grown talent, Carpenter was the very first footballer born in the 21st century to make a senior appearance for the Australian senior International squad, and the defensive force has gone on to make a further 11 appearances in the green and gold.

Amazingly, Carpenter made her Matildas debut against Vietnam in March last year at the age of 15 to help her country qualify for the Rio Olympics before going on to become the youngest female footballer ever to have competed in the Olympics.

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The offseason brought…
Although Canberra has only announced 12 members of their squad for the upcoming season the ‘girls in green’ have had a shakeup both on and off the field but a strong core gives the side a promising outlook moving forward.

With key members Brush, Burke and De Vanna all making a move to Sydney to play for Western Sydney and Sydney FC, Canberra has had to make some strong moves to replace the departing talent, but appointing former Matilda Heather Garriock as coach was the first in a string of exciting developments at the club.

Garriock used her experience coaching with NPLW NSW side Sydney University to convince young Matildas Georgia Plessas and Amy Sayer to make the move to the capital, with Clare Hunt and Karly Roestbakken following suit as the former W-League Champion continues to build an exciting squad for the upcoming season, and many seasons to come.

Key player…
Ashleigh Sykes – while Michelle Heyman will once again look to pull the strings at the attacking end it is hard to look past last years winner of the golden boot in Sykes. Only now entering what is believed to be the prime of an athlete’s career, Sykes is just 25 and has been making a lasting impression on the W-League since her debut in 2008.

If Sykes can find her shooting boots once again for the 2017/18 W-League season the forward will have her opponents trembling in their boots alongside attacking partners Nickoletta Flannery and Heyman.

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One to watch…
Nickoletta Flannery – finishing just second to Sykes in the clubs goalscoring tally for last season was talented young midfielder Flannery who bagged five goals in a breakout season with United. Flannery burst onto the scene in 2015 and has played a large part in the squad ever since, earning a call-up to the young Matilda’s for her efforts.

The midfielder enjoyed a fruitful offseason scoring 10 goals in the NPL NSW women’s competition working under Garriock, and that should carry on into the upcoming W-League season as she continues her blistering rise to prominence.

Full squad list…
4. Clare HUNT, 10. Grace MAHER, 14. Ashleigh SYKES, 16. Karly ROESTBAKKEN, 19. Nickoletta FLANNERY, 20. Georgia BORIC, 23. Michelle HEYMAN, Laura BASSETT, Ellie CARPENTER, Liana DANASKOS, Hayley KOPMEYER, Georgia PLESSAS, Amy SAYER.

 

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Fourth and final year studying Sports Media at the University of Canberra. Love all things football and can't wait to be part of the growth of the game in Australia. Waiting for the day the FFA come to their senses and hand us an A-League team... but could be waiting a while.