Finals underdogs’ hopes hinge on ‘unmatched’ keeper & striker doing what not even Sam Kerr could do

Liberty A-League Highlights Show | Elimination Finals

With the final four teams in the Liberty A-League Finals now locked in, Opta data looks at how Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets booked their place and whether they can now overcome Sydney FC and Melbourne City respectively.

Western United finished third in the regular season standings, three points and three places better off than the Jets, yet there was a surprise on the cards in Tarneit.

The Jets came out on top 4-2 after extra time in a game they twice led in the initial 90 minutes, with Melina Ayres and Sophie Hoban scoring in the additional period – the former netting her ninth Finals goal.

Ayres, who was introduced from the substitutes’ bench, has now scored 25 per cent of her 36 Liberty A-League goals in the Finals, spanning across stints with Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory and the Jets.

Those nine goals are at least five more than any other player has managed since such data was first recorded in 2016-17, with Jess Fishlock, Cortnee Vine and Sam Kerr each on four apiece.

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A-League Women – Finals Matches (2016/17 – 2023/24)
Melina Ayres9
Jess Fishlock4
Cortnee Vine4
Sam Kerr4
Catherine Zimmerman3
Madison Haley3
Kyah Simon3
Hannah Wilkinson3
Lisa De Vanna3

All the more impressive is that Ayres is still aged just 25, and she has reached that goals tally across only 12 such games – the first four of which she failed to register in.

Hat-tricks for Melbourne Victory against Brisbane Roar in the 2020-21 Semi-Finals and Melbourne City in the 2022-23 Elimination Finals went a long way to bolstering the tally. The others, if you were wondering, came for Victory against Adelaide United and Melbourne City in 2022.

The former Australia age-grade international will now be looking to add to her six goals in 12 outings in 2023-24 – from an expected goals (xG) return of just 2.65 – when the Jets take on Premiers City in the Semis.


A-League Women Finals Matches – Melina Ayres Goal List (2016/17 – 2023/24)
Melina AyresMelbourne CityCanberra United05/02/20172016/2017Semi-Finals0
Melina AyresMelbourne CityPerth Glory12/02/20172016/2017Final0
Melina AyresMelbourne VictoryPerth Glory10/02/20192018/2019Semi-Finals0
Melina AyresMelbourne VictorySydney FC14/03/20202019/2020Semi-Finals0
Melina AyresMelbourne VictoryBrisbane Roar04/04/20212020/2021Semi-Finals3
Melina AyresMelbourne VictorySydney FC11/04/20212020/2021Final0
Melina AyresMelbourne VictoryAdelaide United13/03/20222021/2022Play-Offs1
Melina AyresMelbourne VictoryMelbourne City20/03/20222021/2022Play-Offs1
Melina AyresMelbourne VictorySydney FC27/03/20222021/2022Final0
Melina AyresMelbourne VictoryMelbourne City15/04/20232022/2023Play-Offs3
Melina AyresMelbourne VictorySydney FC22/04/20232022/2023Semi-Finals0
Melina AyresNewcastle JetsWestern United13/04/20242023/2024Play-Offs1

Melbourne conceded 29 goals across 22 regular-season matches – three other teams could either match or better that – and will undoubtedly have to be aware of Finals specialist Ayres.

With a shot-conversion rate of 23 per cent from 26 shots in the 2023-24 season, Ayres – who also assisted a goal against Western United – has the third-best such return of any player from a minimum of 20 shots.

City have certainly been warned and they will be looking to avoid being on the end of an upset, which is exactly what happened to neighbours Melbourne Victory in the other Semi-Final.


The Mariners, thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Casey Dumont, saw off the Victory 4-2 on penalties after the game finished goalless inside 120 minutes.

Dumont haunted her former club, with whom she was crowned the best goalkeeper in Liberty A-League in 2021-22, by saving two penalties in the shootout and even scored one of her own just to add insult to injury.

The three-cap Australia international has now been involved in five of the eight penalty shootouts to have ever taken place in the competition’s history. Incredibly, she has won all five and scored a pen of her own in four of those.

After returning to the league in November 2023, having been released by the Victory at the end of last season due to her AFL ambitions, Dumont has impressed across her limited appearances.

Indeed, Dumont’s three clean sheets in eight league appearances since January 7 is bettered only by Courtney Newbon (four) and Jada Whyman (five).

The 3.3 goals she has prevented, meanwhile, is the third-best return since her Liberty A-League comeback, behind only Morgan Aquino (3.8) and Chloe Lincoln (4.3).

In basic terms, Dumont has conceded fewer goals (five) than expected (8.3) based on the probability of a shot resulting in a goal. In even more basic terms, the 32-year-old has excelled in Mariners colours.

A-League Women – Goalkeepers (7 Jan 2024 – 15 April 2024)
PlayerClean Sheets
Jada Whyman5
Courtney Newbon4
Casey Dumont3
Jordan Silkowitz2
Chloe Lincoln2
Sarah Langman2
Kaylie Collins2
Hillary Beall2

And not only has she done the number one job of any goalkeeper – keeping the ball out of the net – Dumont also leads the division since returning in January for clearances (20), highlighting her ability to read danger. For context, Jordan Silkowitz is next on the list, some way back, with 13.

Dumont’s performance against the Victory will be best remembered for her penalty heroics, but she also saved all four efforts on target in the 120 minutes for a 100 per cent save success rate.

That figure is an extremely high 89 per cent since her debut for the Mariners, which again is unmatched by anyone else in the league, with Melbourne City’s Barbara next on the list with 82 per cent.

A-League Women – Goalkeepers (7 Jan 2024 – 15 April 2024)
PlayerGoals ConcededExpected Goals on Target ConcededGoals Prevented
Chloe Lincoln1014.34.3
Morgan Aquino2124.83.8
Casey Dumont58.33.3
Jordan Silkowitz1417.33.3
Hillary Beall58.13.1

If Dumont – and indeed Central Coast Mariners – intend to continue this fairytale run, then another upset is required against defending champions Sydney FC.

Sydney and City were given byes to the Semi Finals, as well as home advantage for the second leg, by virtue of finishing second and first respectively in the regular season.

They will each therefore carry the tags of favourites for the two-legged ties, which get under way on Sunday and conclude the following weekend.

As we saw across an eventful set of elimination ties, however, all it takes is for one player to step up – whether a goalkeeper or attacker – and become an instant hero. Bring it on.