Melbourne Victory A-League Women 2021/22 season preview

-

The defending champs will look to make it two on the trot but will two key player losses prove costly?

Last season…

A-League Women: 3rd

Finals: Champions

They’ll win the league because…

The path to the championship seems clear for Victory – more of the same. With head coach Jeff Hopkins set to retain his spot at the helm after signing a two-year contract extension, the club will be expecting to maintain the winning culture that put them in a position to win their first championship since 2014.

Young gun Kyra Cooney-Cross, who scored the incredible winner in the Grand Final against Sydney FC, will be looking to build on a promising start to her career, which saw her place equal-second in the Julie Dolan medal.

A further injection of youth should come from Matilda Courtney Nevin, who has been playing professionally with the Western Sydney Wanderers since she was 16.

Embed from Getty Images

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

It seems absurd to think that a club coming off such a successful season could find themselves languishing at the bottom of the table within a matter of months, but as the saying goes, “stranger things have happened”.

The elephant in the room is the departure of legendary Matilda Lisa De Vanna, who last season was named in the PFA’s W-League Team of the Season. De Vanna’s composure, presence and veteran leadership will not be easy to replace.

Embed from Getty Images

Victory also suffered another significant loss, with captain Angela Beard making her way to Denmark to play for Fortuna Hjørring. The seven-year veteran has appeared in 80 W-League matches and was a hugely important figure and leader at the club who will definitely be missed when the side suits up this season.

In spite of the large holes in the club left by these two exiting stars, it would still in all likelihood take a championship hangover of epic proportions for Victory to fall to eighth on the ladder this season.

 

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

Victory have won two championships since the W-League’s inception and on both occasions they finished third on the ladder during the season. Every time the club has come third, they’ve ultimately made the Grand Final. The more superstitious fan might say they’ve found a secret recipe for success.

 

The off-season brought…

Victory has chosen to replace veteran experience and grit with youthful chutzpah. The aforementioned Courtney Nevin will be joined by Elite Girls Program graduate Paige Zois. At just 18 years old, Zois has tremendous upside, to go along with the potential to be an impactful player from day one. In addition, Victory has managed to lure 25-year-old Harriet Withers from rivals Melbourne City.

Embed from Getty Images

Otherwise, it’s been a relatively quiet off-season for Victory, with management apparently focused on re-signing as many of their championship-winning side as possible, with most of their defensive and midfield core remaining together.

 

Key Player

Kyra Cooney-Cross looks poised for a monster season.

Having played professionally since she was 15, Cooney-Cross has plenty of experience to draw from. Plus she’s got the numbers to back up the hype.

Her six goals for the season were good for equal fifth in the league, while her four assists saw her in fourth position for that stat. She created an incredible 41 chances, which was good enough for first in the league by a wide margin (nine more than second-place).

Since her highly-successful W-League campaign, Cooney-Cross has had the opportunity to strut her stuff on the world stage. She started every match in the Matildas’ exciting but ultimately disappointing fourth-placed finish at the Tokyo Olympics. The Victory faithful will certainly be hoping she can use the experience of playing with and against the very best players around the globe to put together another inspired domestic season.

Embed from Getty Images

 

One To Watch

The “one” in this case is the starting defensive pair of Claudia Bunge and Kayla Morrison, who will have big shoes to fill in the upcoming season.

The departure of captain Angela Beard looms large as a potential cause for concern, and these two stalwarts down back will be expected to take on even more responsibility this season. But if there’s any group capable of shouldering the load, it’s them.

The duo played every single second of the team’s 2020-21 campaign, giving Victory a sense of comfort about their defence which allowed them to play with confidence further up the pitch. That level of consistency will absolutely be necessary if Victory are serious about going back-to-back.

Embed from Getty Images

 

 

INS: Courtney Nevin, Paige Zois, Harriet Withers.

OUTS: Angela Beard, Lisa De Vanna.

Full squad list

Goalkeepers: Casey Dumont, Melissa Maizels

Defenders: Claudia Bunge, Courtney Nevin, Kayla Morrison

Midfielders: Tiffany Eliadis, Polly Doran, Amy Jackson, Mindy Barbieri

Forwards: Catherine Zimmerman, Harriet Withers, Melina Ayers, Maja Markovski, Lia Privitelli, Kyra Cooney-Cross

Featured Image Credit: Peter Hugg

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Mitchell Turner
Third Year Undergraduate Arts Student at Monash University (Journalism Major). Generic sports tragic living out my failed dreams of going pro vicariously through other people.

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required