Despite a strong attacking connection between Perth Glory and Sky Blue FC teammates Sam Kerr and Nikki Stanton, Perth Glory fell 2-0 to Melbourne City in the 2016/2017 Westfield W-League Grand Final. As is the case with any league championship match, the League Grand Final was a physical, extremely competitive match as both teams battled to life the trophy for only the second time in their team histories.
Despite Perth dominating possession (67%) and leading in shots (13-9), shots on goal (6-3) and corners (7-1), their inability to finish proved to be their fatal flaw in the match. That’s not to discredit City goalkeeper Lydia Williams (Houston Dash), who had a number of big saves to earn the clean sheet.
Unsurprisingly, Sam Kerr was the biggest threat in the Perth attack, driving the ball through the City defense and creating opportunities on goal for herself and her teammates. Chicago Red Stars loanee Vanessa DiBernardo also heavily contributed to the Perth attack, but it was obvious that Kerr’s speed set her apart from the rest of the field and, therefore, placed the goal-scoring burden on her shoulders. She had a number of solid opportunities on goal, several of which were the result of balls played in from Stanton, but Kerr’s finishing game was off and City’s defense was on point, resulting in Kerr’s failure to get onto the scoresheet.
It was the Seattle connection that proved the most effective of the day, giving City a 1-0 lead just before the first half whistle. Both newly-signed Reign defender Rebekah Stott and Beverly Yanez made connections with Jess Fishlock to create attempts on goal for City in the opening half, but it was the Yanez-to-Fishlock connection that proved most effective in just the final seconds of the first half. Yanez, playing along the left, sent a ball to Fishlock. Fishlock, the heart and soul of the City attack in the opening half, made a sliding kick to knock the ball past Dal Busco, who could only stand and watch as the ball rolled past her.
Yanez scored the insurance goal in the 72nd minute after her shross went just over Gabrielle Dal Busco’s reach and into the goal. Despite a 2-0 lead being arguably the most dangerous in soccer, the City defense was able to deny any and all of the Glory’s chances to lift the trophy at the end of the day.
With the win, City became the first team in league history to win back-to-back championships and is the first fourth-place team to win the title.
Perth Glory Lineup: Gabrielle Dal Busco; Sarah Carroll (Patricia Charalambous, 76’), Kim Carroll, Alyssa Mautz, Natasha Rigby; Jaymee Gibbons (Shawn Billam, 54’), Nikki Stanton, Arianna Romero; Sam Kerr, Rosie Sutton, Vanessa Di Bernardo
Subs Not Used: Melissa Maizels, Carla Bennett, Caitlin Doeglas
Head Coach: Siobodan Despotosvski
Melbourne City Lineup: Lydia Willliams; Rebekah Stott, Laura Alleway, Lauren Barnes, Stephanie Catley (C); Jessica Fislock, Marianna Tabain (Amy Jackson, 70’), Aivi Luik; Teigen Allen, Beverly Yanez (Tyla Jay Vlajnic, 87’), Erika Tymrak (Melina Ayres, 94’)
Subs Not Used: Emily Shields, Olivia Ellis
Head Coach: Jessica Fishlock