Victory announce arrival of NPL goal machine & re-signings of two young guns

Melbourne Victory have announced the signing of NPLW Victoria Golden Boot winner Kurea Okino for the upcoming 2023-24 Liberty A-League season, along with the the re-signing of two young stars Ava Briedis and Paige Zois.

Okino arrives at Victory fresh off a dominant campaign at Boroondara Eagles, where she scored a whopping 31 goals in 21 regular season games.

Her incredible first season helped the Eagles to a second-placed finish in their first season back in the top flight, winning the Golden Boot by an astonishing 17 goals ahead of second placed Danielle Wise.

The Japanese striker’s arrival helps offset the gap left by outgoing striker Melina Ayres and Catherine Zimmerman who have joined Newcastle Jets and Western United respectively.

Featured image: Preston Lions (middle)

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“I’m excited to be joining Melbourne Victory and testing myself in the A-League Women’s competition,” Okino said.

“I had a great season in the NPLW and the next challenge for me is to continue this form with Melbourne Victory in the A-League Women’s.

“Speaking to (coach) Jeff (Hopkins), the team is hungry for more and to achieve success this season and I’m excited to be part of the squad and the A-League Women’s competition.”


Prior to arriving in Australia, the Japanese striker spent time playing professionally at Japanese outfits Vegalta Sendai and Tokiwagi Gakuen.

The 24-year-old’s 31 goals is the equal-fourth most amount of goals (with Angela Beard) scored in an NPLW Victoria regular season, only bettered by Zimmerman and Ayres.

Most goals scored by a single player in a NPLW Victoria regular season (since 2014)
Player (team and year)GoalsGamesGoals per game average
Catherine Zimmerman (Calder United – 2018)43281.53
Melina Ayres (South Melbourne – 2017)39271.44
Catherine Zimmerman (Calder United – 2019)33271.2
Angela Beard (Calder United – 2019)31251.25
Kurea Okino (Boroondara Eagles – 2023)31211.47

Victory coach Jeff Hopkins said he was looking forward to seeing how her form translates from NPL to A-Leagues football.

“We’re incredibly pleased to be able to secure Kurea’s services for the upcoming season,” Hopkins said.

“What she has produced in the NPLW Victoria has been incredible to watch and we have no doubt that the transition to A-League Women’s will be seamless for her.

“She’s a striker’s striker. Her nose for goal is obvious in the numbers she’s produced and we believe she has the quality to reproduce that for our squad this season.”

Okino is the club’s fourth new signing, joining Emma Checker, Rachel Lowe and Jamilla Rankin as Victory’s latest arrivals but before then, she will be hoping to end her 2023 NPLW campaign on a high when the Eagles begin their finals campaign on September 2 against South Melbourne.

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Victory also announced the re-signing of talented youngsters Briedis and Zois earlier in the day, as they look to bolster their squad heading into the new campaign.

Briedis made 11 appearances last season, including starts in their season opener against Western United and Semi Final defeat to Sydney FC.

“We’re thrilled to have Ava continue her journey at Melbourne Victory,” Victory Director of Football John Didulica said.

“She stepped up to the senior squad last season and made great progress as she continues to grow as a footballer.

“Seeing players graduate from our Elite Girls Program to our A-League Women’s squad is incredibly rewarding for everyone at Melbourne Victory and we look forward to Ava and many more female players coming through our program and into the senior women’s side.”

Meanwhile, Zois has slowly worked her way into Victory’s senior setup over the last two seasons, including their 2021-22 Championship success.

She’s continued her solid form locally, playing a key role in FC Bulleen Lions’ run to the NPLW Victoria Premiership season.

“I’m thrilled to be extending my time at Melbourne Victory and I can’t wait to return to work with this group ahead of the upcoming season,” Zois said.

“This group means so much to me. They have been an important part of my development on and off the field and I want to achieve more goals with them this season.”