A-League Women mid-season report card: Sydney FC

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With nearly half of the 2021/22 season gone in the A-League Women, it’s time to assess the good, and the very little bad from the league leader’s campaign thus far.

Semester Summary: Driven by the heartache of last year’s grand final loss to Melbourne Victory in the dying moments, Sydney FC have so far emerged head and shoulders above the rest of their fledgling competition.

Having conceded just one goal and only dropping points on the one occasion, the Sky Blues are flying high atop the A-League Women’s ladder after recording five wins and mustering an outstanding total of 17 goals.

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The side’s 5-0 demolition of Wellington Phoenix in round five was a prime example of their clinical showing up front and was followed by a runaway 4-0 defeat of Perth Glory, impressively backing up from their first three wins and a disappointing scoreless draw in round four.

Areas of excellence: Attacking depth.

Finding the back of net has been nothing short of a breeze for the Sky Blues this season. By establishing endless avenues to goal, the league leaders have proven that they are just as impressive a team as they appear on paper.

A break-out season for midfielder Mackenzie Hawkesby with five goals has been complimented by Matildas Cortnee Vine and Remy Siemsen with four goals apiece. Remarkably, however, that is not where the Sydneysiders’ attacking depth ends.

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Single goal contributions from Princess Ibini and Rachel Lowe, as well as an unexpected two goals from defender Charlize Rule, has been enough to leave experienced internationals Paige Satchell and Maria Rojas spending a significant amount of time on the bench.

Areas in need of improvement: A full 90-minute performance.

Areas of improvement, if any, for the Sky Blues this season would involve a cohesive 90-minute showing across all areas of the park.

Sydney’s patchiness shown at times throughout the season, particularly in defence, was on full display in their tired round four performance against Western Sydney Wanderers. The side’s lack of a complete performance thus far has been a constant grievance of manager Ante Juric, particularly after their second half against the Phoenix in round five, with the head coach adamant that his squad is yet to produce their best.

However, their most recent outing against the Glory came very close to achieving exactly that.

Top student: Mackenzie Hawkesby

The midfielder has been one of the league’s biggest surprise packets this season, nearly tripling her career goal tally and adding four assists to her name.

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Hawkesby has been a menace in Sydney’s attack, blowing teams away with her passing precision and incredible eye for goal, best displayed in her player of the match performance in round five.

Needs improvement: Princess Ibini

Whilst by no means a weak link in Sydney’s starting 11, the attacker has noticeably been lacking the pace and energy of when she first burst onto the ALW scene back in 2015 and has subsequently not looked like adding to her tally of one goal.

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However, through donning the captain’s armband in her last game against the Glory, Ibini’s apparent focus on leadership may account for the absence of her more youthful self.

Grade: A-

Outlook: It has been a terrific start, but the Sky Blues are not yet in the clear of winning a second consecutive premiership.

With eight regular season matches left to play, greater challenges lie ahead for the Sydneysiders, including the absence of the Vine-Siemsen strike-force out on international duty and subsequent clashes against each of the league’s top-four teams.

Fans will undoubtedly be hoping for the goals not to dry up in what is a potential fork in the road for the league leaders.

Feature Image Credit: Jaime Castaneda

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Jimmy Alexander
Covering Sydney FC for the 2021/22 A-League season. Studying a Bachelor of Sports Media (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University.

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