A-League Women mid-season report card: Western United

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As the A-League Women table starts to take shape, let’s take a look at the surprise package of 2022/23.

Semester Summary: Beginner’s luck or something more?

Western United couldn’t have dreamt of a better start to their inaugural season in the ALW. 

They’ve been flawless result-wise winning all seven of their matches so far. Impressive wins against top-four rivals Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Sydney FC have propelled them to the top of the table. 

Indicative of this success was Mark Torcaso’s nomination for coach of the month for December. No doubt a key part of the United project and someone who, like a number of players in the squad, has stepped up from the National Premier League level and not looked out of place one bit.

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Western’s foreign players have provided added quality and experience as well. Former USA international Jessica McDonald has offered a leadership presence to the group since signing on loan from Racing Louisville in the National Women’s Soccer League. While fellow American Hannah Keane has been the main goal threat for the team scoring on five occasions.

Area of excellence: Clutch moments are winning Western points. 

A key trend of this United team has been late winners. Most notably, an incredible stoppage-time turnaround in Adelaide with Emma Robers’ long-range effort in the dying embers of the match stealing the latest of wins for them.

Substitutes have also proved crucial for United. Star signing Chloe Logarzo is in fact yet to start a game in 2022/23 for Western. However, the Matildas midfielder has had a game-changing impact off the bench netting three goals including a match-winning brace to take the points against Melbourne City.

With plenty of challenges ahead of United, having players who stand up in the big moments will give them a chance at success as the season progresses.

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Area in need of improvement: Lack of clean sheets early on.

The old cliche runs true. Attack wins you games; defence wins you titles. Undoubtedly, Western have set themselves out as one of the teams to beat. However, the side have kept only three clean sheets from seven matches so far.

While it was a monumental win against Sydney FC on Wednesday night, it wasn’t convincing at times, especially defensively. There were plenty of close calls at the back, with goalkeeper Hillary Beall kept busy.

Irrespective of any elation early on for the side, one would find it difficult to conclude that defensive wobbliness is a prelude to success come the season’s end. 

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Top student: Hannah Keane

The 29-year-old has led the way in both goals and assists for the side since her move to the ALW. She’s proved to be a real catalyst for the team, most recently netting both goals in Western’s win over Sydney FC with a couple of sharp first-half finishes. 

The forward has adopted an almost irreplaceable role for United and has started every game for the team this season. Keane’s extensive CV playing across Europe’s leagues puts her as one of the more experienced heads in the camp, which looks to have been invaluable in the team’s faultless start.

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Class clown: N/A

It would be unfair to pick out any member of a team who is yet to drop a single point this season and describe them as a class clown. This group seem unstoppable at the moment, and we’ll need to see some poor results before it becomes clearer who the underperformers are (if there are any).

Grade: A+

Outlook:

From here, it’s a question of whether the side can carry on their form. They’ve already shown ambitions of this, acquiring the signature of three-time Matilda Angie Beard. The left-sided player will add further quality and depth to United.

It’s important to point out that the side have not had an easy run in their opening matches, having already faced many of the competition’s big hitters. Perhaps their biggest test came on Wednesday night against Sydney FC, which they passed with a clinical 2-0 victory.

It’s an exciting prospect at Western United. They’re top of the league with a perfect record. They have a chance of achieving something special this season and only time will tell if they can achieve just that.

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Feature image credit: Western United

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Timothy Gibson
I am a student currently studying a Bachelor of Journalism/ Bachelor of Laws while writing football match reports and feature articles.

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