A-League Women’s Team of the Year 2021/22

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The league may have had a new name but the drama was as high as ever.

With the Grand Final just around the corner, here is the often-controversial A-League Women’s Team of the Year from The Football Sack: the original and longest-running Team of the Year selection for our national women’s league.

Between 14 writers, The Football Sack has watched every single match of the season with all coming together to collectively decide the best XI.

The nominees

Goalkeepers

  • Casey Dumont – Melbourne Victory
  • Jada Mathyssen-Whyman – Sydney FC
  • Lily Alfeld – Wellington Pheonix
  • Melissa Barbieri – Manchester City
  • Sarah Langman – Western Sydney Wanderers

Defenders

  • Ally Green – Sydney FC
  • Annabel Haffenden – Brisbane Roar
  • Charlize Jayde Rule – Sydney FC
  • Charlize Rule – Sydney FC
  • Charlotte McLean – Sydney FC
  • Clare Hunt – Western Sydney Wanderers
  • Courtney Nevin – Melbourne Victory
  • Elizabeth Eddy – Newcastle Jets
  • Emily Hodgson – Adelaide United
  • Emma Checker – Melbourne City
  • Isabel Hodgson – Adelaide United
  • Jamilla Rankin – Brisbane Roar
  • Kaitlyn Torpey – Melbourne City
  • Kate Taylor – Wellington Pheonix
  • Kayla Sharples – Adelaide United
  • Kim Carroll – Perth Glory
  • Matilda McNamara – Adelaide United
  • Natalie Tobin – Sydney FC
  • Natasha Rigby – Perth Glory
  • Polly Doran – Melbourne Victory
  • Tori Tumeth – Melbourne City
  • Winonah Heatley – Melbourne City

Midfielders

  • Alana Murphy – Melbourne Victory
  • Alex Chidiac – Melbourne Victory
  • Alyssa Whinham – Wellington Phoenix
  • Ayesha Norrie – Brisbane Roar
  • Chloe Knott – Wellington Pheonix
  • Dylan Holmes – Adelaide United
  • Emily Condon – Adelaide United
  • Grace Jale – Wellington Pheonix
  • Grace Maher – Canberra United
  • Hana Lowry – Perth Glory
  • Katrina Gorry – Brisbane Roar
  • Kyra Cooney-Cross – Melbourne Victory
  • Leah Davidson – Melbourne City
  • Leticia McKenna – Melbourne City
  • Mackenzie Hawkesby – Sydney FC
  • Mie Leth Jans – Perth Glory
  • MelindaJ Barbieri – Melbourne Victory
  • Rachel Lowe – Sydney FC
  • Rebekah Stott – Melbourne City
  • Taylor Ray – Sydney FC

Forwards

  • Catherine Zimmerman – Melbourne Victory
  • Chelsie Dawber – Adelaide United
  • Courtnee Vine – Sydney FC
  • Cyera Hintzen – Perth Glory
  • Fiona Worts – Adelaide United
  • Grace Jale – Wellington Pheonix
  • Hannah Wilkinson – Melbourne City
  • Holly McNamara – Melbourne City
  • Michelle Heyman – Canberra United
  • Princess Ibini-Isei – Sydney FC
  • Remy Siemsen – Sydney FC
  • Rhianna Pollicina – Melbourne City
  • Shea Connors – Brisbane Roar

Coaches

  • Adrian Stenta – Adelaide United
  • Alex Epakis – Perth Glory
  • Ante Juric – Sydney FC
  • Ash Wilson – Newcastle Jets
  • Jeff Hopkins – Melbourne Victory
  • Rado Vidosic – Melbourne City

The finalists

Goalkeepers

Casey Dumont – Melbourne Victory: One of the most experienced coaches in the ALW, Vidosic somehow managed to craft one of the most cohesive and effective teams despite also being one of the youngest. Ahead of the season, City were looking to bounce back from a disappointing 7th-placed finish in 2020/21, and appeared to be undergoing a rebuild of sorts. Vidosic brought together a group of inexperienced players from all over the country, added in a few experienced heads like Emma Checker, Melissa Barbieri and Rebekah Stott, and ended up with one of the most entertaining yet damaging sides in the competition. City played high-tempo, possession-based football which offered up excellent entertainment, whilst also maintaining one of the sturdiest defences. Vidosic deserves plenty of credit for what he was able to achieve.

Jada Mathyssen-Whyman – Sydney FC: In a season the star goalkeeper will never forget, Whyman was particularly graceful upon breaking Lydia Williams’ record for most consecutive clean sheets in the A-League Womens. The backbone of the Sky Blues defence also called for an abrupt end to the Williams comparisons with her distinct snap reflexes and playing style leaving her every reason to proclaim “I’m Jada!” in protest.

Melissa Barbieri – Manchester City: One of the most remarkable seasons in recent memory, 42-year-old Barbieri wound back in the clock in 2021/22. After years sitting in reserve, ‘Bubs’ had to step in at the start of the season for the injured Sally James, but the veteran keeper made herself effectively impossible to displace with her performances. Barbieri not only made countless brilliant saves, but her leadership on and off the pitch undoubtedly played a major role in City’s success considering the reliance on young players within the squad.

Defenders

Ally Green – Sydney FC: Having played every game this season, Green’s consistency in her left-back role undoubtedly leaves her a contender for defender of the year. The 23-year-old has equally shone at the back as well as upfront for the premiership winners, with her incisive through balls, leading to two fantastic assists, and explosive pace terrorising defences across the competition.

Charlize Rule – Sydney FC: The teenage defender has been outstanding in her breakout 2021/22 season. Like her full-back counterpart, Green, Rule’s tendency to drift forward and join the Sky Blues attack this season has resulted in her adding three goals and two assists to her name; an impressive credit for any defender, let alone a 19-year-old.

Courtney Nevin – Melbourne Victory: Melbourne Victory recorded the fourth-best defence in the league in terms of goals allowed this season, and a huge part of that equation has been youngster Courtney Nevin. Charged with leading back-third that lost some major talent during the off-season, Nevin has been exceptional in her role at full-back.

Emma Checker – Melbourne City: The Melbourne City captain put together one of her most impressive seasons to date, guiding her side to a second-placed finish which was largely built on a solid defence. Checker was at the centre of that defence, where her leadership and distribution were critical to City’s play at both ends of the pitch. Whilst Checker’s play style is high-risk, the rewards this season far outweighed any negatives, making her more mature performances a treat to watch.

Kate Taylor – Wellington Pheonix: At just 18, Kate Taylor was appointed the vice-captain for Wellington. Her leadership, skill, and effort on defence has been on full display this season. Plenty of chances have been dashed by the young centre-back as Taylor has found a unique balance of defending aggressively while also remaining disciplined. She hasn’t received a single card during her first professional season and even found the back of the net against the Wanderers. She has been a standout for the Phoenix and a massive reason why the side made history, winning two games in their inaugural season.

Matilda McNamara – Adelaide United: Behind every good side is a solid defence and Matilda McNamara was the defensive rock for United all season long. McNamara was as durable as they come, starting every game and even chipping in with two goals to her name. McNamara and her counterparts Kayla Sharples and the Hodgson sisters formed a top three defence – highlighted by them achieving three consecutive clean sheets for the first time since 2018.

Natalie Tobin – Sydney FC: Tobin, the Sky Blues’ ever reliable captain, has been instrumental in her side’s defensive effort which has seen them concede just six goals throughout the entire 2021/22 season. The 25-year-old’s dream centre-back pairing with Charlotte Mclean proved an unstoppable force in Sydney’s premiership winning year, after letting through just one goal in their seven home matches.

Winonah Heatley – Melbourne City: A player who far too often flies under the radar, ‘Winnie’ was a crucial cog in City’s defence all season. Composed on the ball and excellent in one-on-one contests, Heatley was an assured presence at the back giving her teammates the freedom to push higher up the pitch. Heatley’s strong early-season form was recognised with a call-up to the extended Matildas squad ahead of the Asian Cup, and the 20-year-old appears destined to continue her upward trajectory over the next few years.

Midfielders

Dylan Holmes – Adelaide United: Matilda Dylan Holmes returned to her hometown club in mid-December and instantly brought her quality and leadership to a young Adelaide United midfield. Holmes’ technically sound game was paramount to United’s success this season, pulling the strings offensively with three assists to her name and her leadership setting up her young midfield defensively.

Hana Lowry – Perth Glory: Hana Lowry featured in all of the Perth Glory’s games this season along with making every starting line-up under the reign of Alex Epakis. The soon-to-be 19-year-old played a crucial role in Glory’s success this season in her capacity in midfield. Lowry started the season in a central midfield role but quickly progressed into an attacking position. While Lowry excelled in a high press position, the midfielder also had her tackling abilities on full display, surprising opponents by winning challenges to allow her side with extra opportunities up front. It was Lowry’s third consecutive season with the Perth side and hopefully they will be able to secure her for a fourth.

Katrina Gorry – Brisbane Roar: Re-joining the Roar on loan for her fourth season in Brisbane, Gorry once again showed her world-class ability in a side that struggled. Scoring four and assisting seven in 14 matches Gorry was Brisbane’s beating heart in midfield and more often than not was their instigator in attack.

Mackenzie Hawkesby – Sydney FC: Hawkesby’s unexpected rise to prominence this season was capped off with a first-half hat-trick against the Nix in round five, ultimately adding two more to her tally in addition to an incredible total of eight assists. At just 21 years old, the midfielder’s best is yet to come.

Rebekah Stott – Melbourne City: Probably the most important player in the City squad, Stott was the crucial link between attack and defence in the City midfield. Despite making her name as a defender, ‘Stotty’ seamlessly adapted to the role of full-time midfielder, offering cover for her defence whilst even venturing forwards at time with her slick dribbling and passing. Her on-field performances were made even more impressive considering this season was Stott’s comeback from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, solidifying her status as an inspiration and legend of the game.

Forwards

Chelsie Dawber – Adelaide United: Coming off winning the club golden boot for United last season, Dawber took her game to another level this year by doubling her prior goal tally with ten goals and finishing third in the golden boot standings. Dawber also showed the league her versatility by playing a range of different roles, such as out wide and centrally, forming an unstoppable partnership with Fiona Worts.

Courtnee Vine – Sydney FC: The 23-year-old’s early season form was so impressive that it warranted a long-awaited call-up to the Matildas squad for their disastrous Asian Cup tournament. Despite playing four less games this season than most of her teammates, Vine still managed a total of eight goals which included braces against both the Glory in round 13 and against Melbourne City in that coveted semi-final.

Fiona Worts – Adelaide United: It was a season of wows for Worts as she dominated the golden boot standings, scoring 13 goals from her 14 appearances: highlighted by her record-equalling five goals in a match against Brisbane Roar. Worts also showed her playmaking abilities with four assists and being an integral part of her formidable partnership with Chelsie Dawber.

Hannah Wilkinson – Melbourne City: 14 goals. It speaks for itself really. Wilkinson put together a stunning set of performances in her debut A-League Women’s campaign. The experienced Kiwi international showcased her clinical finishing skills as well as an ability to score from all kinds of positions within the box. Although she was edged out in the golden boot race by Fiona Worts, the fact that Wilkinson’s goals accounted for almost half of City’s total number of goals highlights the crucial role she played in propelling her side towards finals.

Holly McNamara – Melbourne City: The heartbreaking story of the A-League Women’s season came when 19-year-old McNamara unfortunately injured her ACL against Sydney FC in February. Prior to that, McNamara stole the show with her pace, power, and technical proficiency. The winger racked up assists and goals aplenty in her debut season, including a hat-trick of assists in City’s 5-1 demolition of Melbourne Victory. Largely an unknown quantity prior to the season, McNamara’s scintillating form earned her a first Matildas call-up ahead of the Asian Cup, where she featured in all three group stage games. One of the brightest young prospects in the country, all Australian football fans will be hoping McNamara can recapture the magic she displayed this season upon her return from injury.

Princess Ibini-Isei – Sydney FC: Incredibly in her seventh season at the club, the sister of Wanderers forward Bernie, Ibini-Isei well and truly silenced her critics in the latter half of this season. With a remarkable run of form which spawned five goals and five assists, Ibini on many occasions has shown, through her incredible pace and agility, what made her such a special player in the first place.

Rhianna Pollicina – Melbourne City: Pollicina showcased all season that she is one of the most technically gifted footballers in the A-League Women’s, with her brilliance from set-pieces and dazzling runs with the ball catching the eye of most observers. Pollicina made the move from Newcastle Jets at the start of the season and took a handful of games to adjust to Rado Vidosic’s system. Once she found her feet though, she was unstoppable. ‘Mini’ scored several screamers from long-range and often carried City’s attacking line in the absence of other key personnel.

Coaches

Adrian Stenta – Adelaide United: It took 13 long seasons but Stenta was able to achieve what no United coach before him could and gift the Reds their inaugural finals campaign. It was a brilliant second season for Stenta with nine wins and five losses with the team scoring a whopping 33 goals – only the second time the Reds have scored 30+ in a season.

Ante Juric – Sydney FC: The man at the Sydney helm has infamously been a tough man to please this season, but for coaching a side on their way to a fifth consecutive grand final and close to remaining undefeated, who can blame him? Juric was particularly critical of his side’s performances in rounds four and five, despite winning the latter game 5-0. However, this was clearly for good reason, as whatever faith he seemed to install into his squad of seasoned professionals led to just one regular season slip-up to second-placed Melbourne City, before plotting the perfect revenge in an unprecedented comeback from two goals down in the semi-final to run out 4-2 victors.

Rado Vidosic – Melbourne City: One of the most experienced coaches in the A-League Women’s, Vidosic somehow managed to craft one of the most cohesive and effective teams despite also being one of the youngest. Ahead of the season, City were looking to bounce back from a disappointing 7th-placed finish in 2020/21, and appeared to be undergoing a rebuild of sorts. Vidosic brought together a group of inexperienced players from all over the country, added in a few experienced heads like Emma Checker, Melissa Barbieri and Rebekah Stott, and ended up with one of the most entertaining yet damaging sides in the competition. City played high-tempo, possession-based football which offered up excellent entertainment, whilst also maintaining one of the sturdiest defences. Vidosic deserves plenty of credit for what he was able to achieve.s

A-League Women’s Team of the Year 2021/22

Goalkeeper: Jada Mathyssen-Whyman
Centre backs: Natalie Tobin & Kate Taylor
Fullbacks: Ally Green & Courtney Nevin
Midfielders: Mackenzie Hawkesby, Dylan Holmes & Katrina Gorry
Wingers: Courtnee Vine & Rhianna Pollicina
Centre Forward: Fiona Worts
Coach: Ante Juric
Assistant coach: Rado Vidosic
Bench: Melissa Barbieri, Winonah Heatley, Rebekah Stott, Hannah Wilkinson

End of Season Awards

Defender of the Year: Ally Green
Midfielder of the Year: Mackenzie Hawkesby
Forwards of the Year: Fiona Worts
Young Player of the Year: Mackenzie Hawkesby
Player of the Year: Mackenzie Hawkesby

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