A-League Women mid-season report card: Melbourne Victory

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Reigning A-League Women champions Melbourne Victory hit the ground running this season but have shown signs of weakness in recent weeks.

Semester Summary: After a strong start to their title defence which saw them open the season with three straight wins, two losses in a row means Melbourne Victory find themselves third on the ladder, yet still 10 points behind first and only three away from dropping out of the finals picture entirely.

It’s obviously been a challenging season thus far for all players and clubs, but Jeff Hopkins’ side has had more obstacles than most. The most notable of which being their captain Kayla Morrison suffering an ACL tear in the first 30 minutes of the season, ruling her out for the remainder of the competition.

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Areas of Excellence: Red-hot attack

Victory is currently finding the back of the net with regularity. With the third-most goals scored in the competition so far, this collection of forwards is proving to be a handful for any and all opposition.

The American pair Lynn Williams and Catherine Zimmerman have spear-headed this attack, with six goals between them and have been ably supported by the likes of Lia Privitelli and Harriet Withers.

Coach Hopkins has at various points described his sides finishing as “clinical” and the club will be relying on their continued high-level execution in front of goal if they want to compete with elite opponents such as Melbourne City and Sydney FC.

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Areas for Improvement: Frail defence

While Victory is certainly creating and taking opportunities, they’re giving plenty away as well. In fact, as it currently stands, the team has conceded exactly the same number of goals as they’ve scored, good for the equal-third most conceded in the league.

Conceding goals at a rate that is three or four times higher than most teams in a similar ladder position as them simply is not a recipe for championship success.

While many of their issues in that area could be attributed to the loss of Morrison, as well as a lack of continuity through the pandemic, Hopkins has admitted his club simply needs to be better in that area of the game.

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Top Student: Lia Privitelli

Privitelli has been a stalwart through the middle of the field. Starting in all of the five possible games her side has played so far and she has been instrumental in the potent attack we have witnessed so far this season. She’s contributed two goals herself, both coming in the season opening 5-1 win against Adelaide, but her influence extends beyond that.

She contributes seamlessly to what has become a well-oiled machine up forward. While she may not have directly hit the scoreboard in recent matches, she’s certainly help set up the chances that have.

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 Needs Improvement: Polly Doran

While it would be unfair to place all the blame at the feet of any one player for Victory’s defensive woes, I think Doran herself would say she hasn’t been quite as good as she’d hoped.

At only 20, Doran still has a great deal more to learn from playing at the elite level, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that her impact on the contest has been minimal at times. While she’s shown flashes of excellence, right at this moment what Victory needs is consistency, which she unfortunately hasn’t been able to provide.

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Grade: C+

Outlook: Perhaps a harsh grade for a team sitting at third on the ladder, but a side coming off a championship should expect to be graded stridently.

A two-game slide is far from the end of the world, but it’s enough to clearly place them in a tier below the outstanding sides in the competition. That will need to change in short order if their championship aspirations are going to be realised.

Feature image credit: Alex Pavlidis

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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.

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