Western Sydney Wanderers W-League 2020/21 season preview

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The Western Sydney Wanderers are looking to build upon their best ever season in the W-League but will have to do so with a new-look squad minus the reigning Julie Dolan Medallist.

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Last Season:

W-League: 4th
Finals: Semi-Finals

They’ll win the league because…

Head coach Dean Heffernan walked into a club last season that had not once reached the W-League finals in its seven-year history. Now, he has them primed for an exciting future after guiding them to within one game of the 2020 decider.

The Wanderers have lost some serious star power heading into the new campaign, but Heffernan has still managed to assemble an impressive squad for his second season in charge. W-League legend Leena Khamis and Irish star Julie-Ann Russell have come on board adding experience to a crop of promising youngsters such as Courtney Nevin, Bryleeh Henry and Aideen Keane.

Throw the likes of Caitlin Cooper, Erica Halloway and Olivia Price into the mix and the Wanderers have a side that should realistically aim to go one step further and reach the Grand Final this season.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

Make no mistake, the Wanderers have an excellent side on paper. But it is also a very different team to the one that tasted so much success last season with seven of the eleven players who started in their Semi-Final loss to Melbourne City having left the club.

Headlining the list of departed stars is last season’s Julie Dolan Medallist and joint W-League top goal scorer Kristen Hamilton who leaves a massive hole up front at Western Sydney. Among those who join her in exiting are Amy Harrison, Lynn Williams, Ella Mastrantonio and Kyra-Cooney Cross.

Dean Heffernan’s new-look squad could take some time to gel, potentially hindering their Finals prospects.

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Talk around the water cooler… look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information

The Wanderers boast a star-studded W-League coaching team, bolstered by club legend Ante Covic. After two years as a goalkeeping coach with Marconi Stallions, Covic is now back at the Wanderers, who he famously steered to AFC Champions League glory in 2014.

The off-season brought

Player turnover. As has been the case at many W-League clubs this off-season, the Wanderers have bid farewell to several star players after they completed lucrative overseas transfers.

Amy Harrison, Ella Mastrantonio and Alexandra Huynh each signed for European clubs while Kristen Hamilton, Sam Staab and Abby Smith have all returned to America following the end of their loans. An additional five players have moved to rival W-League clubs.

This has forced the Wanderers into making thirteen new signings to round out their squad with Nikola Orgill being the only player to join from overseas.

Key player

Caitlin Cooper. The Wanderers’ defence was their Achilles heel last term, leaking 22 goals in their final seven matches.

Shoring up their defence will be a top priority so the Wanderers will be looking for a big season from Caitlin Cooper. The newly appointed captain has 12 years’ worth of W-League experience up her sleeve as well as 10 caps for the Matildas. Leading a youthful backline, Cooper needs to perform if the Wanderers are to improve on last season’s Semi-Final finish.

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One to watch

Bryleeh Henry. This promising young forward should give Wanderers fans plenty to be excited about heading into her first W-League campaign.

Henry signed for the Wanderers on the back of scoring seven goals in ten games in the NPL New South Wales Women’s last season, and then being selected in a Talent Identification Camp held by the Matildas coaching staff. Having already represented Australia with the Young Matildas, Henry shapes as a great addition to the Wanderers attacking ranks after losing Kristen Hamilton.

INS: Leena Khamis (Canberra United), Julie-Ann Russell (Sydney University, NPL), Sarah Willacy (Adelaide United), Olivia Price (Canberra United), Nikola Orgill (Kolbotn, Norway), Teigan Collister (Newcastle Jets), Libby Copus-Brown (Newcastle Jets), Margaux Chauvet (Illawarra, NPL), Georgia Yeoman-Dale (free agent), Bryleeh Henry, Isabel Gomez, Sarah Hunter, Aideen Keane (all Football NSW)

OUTS: Kristen Hamilton, Lynn Williams, Abby Smith, Amy Harrison, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Ella Mastrantonio, Sam Staab, Alexandra Huynh, Vesna Milivojevic, Cortnee Vine, Rachel Lowe, Jada Whyman, Tiana Jaber

Full squad list

Goalkeepers: Sarah Willacy, Sophie Magus, Courtney Newbon

Defenders: Caitlin Cooper, Nikola Orgill, Margaux Chauvet

Midfielders: Courtney Nevin, Chloe Middleton, Olivia Price, Susan Phonsongkham, Georgia Yeoman-Dale, Liana Danaskos, Rosie Galea, Danika Matos, Libby Copus-Brown, Isabel Gomez, Sarah Hunter, Aideen Keane

Forwards: Leena Khamis, Julie-Ann Russell, Erica Halloway, Alix Roberts, Bryleeh Henry, Teigan Collister

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Jye Campbell
Journalism student at Western Sydney. Love my football (#lazoumance) and rugby league (#pantherpride). Advocate for FIFA Career Modes. Covering Western Sydney Wanderers in both A-League and W-League for the 2020/21 season.

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