Samantha Lewis’ Ultimate Westfield W-League Season Guide

The waiting is over and the season is finally here – and this is everything you need to know about the clubs contending for Westfield W-League glory.

(NB squad details correct at time of publication)


COACH: Adrian Stenta
KEY SIGNINGS: Annalee Grove, Sian Fryer-McLaren


Following the departure of long-time head coach Ivan Karlovic in the off-season, understudy Adrian Stenta now has a chance to imprint himself on this young Adelaide squad.

Having worked with almost all of the players during his time as Karlovic’s assistant, the Reds’ new head coach enters the 2020/21 season with the kind of familiarity with his team that other coaches scrambling to rebuild their sides will envy.

The loss of key internationals such as captain Amber Brooks and centre-back Julia Ashley will be keenly felt, however experienced full-back Laura Johns and up-and-coming defender Matilda McNamara could quite easily step into their shoes in both a football and a leadership sense.

As the only club to have never qualified for finals, Adelaide will be hoping the consistency and chemistry that this young squad has built up over the last few seasons will allow them to hit the ground running, with a first ever top-four finish in their sights.


COACH: Jake Goodship
KEY SIGNINGS: Morgan Aquino, Kim Carroll, Emily Gielnik, Olivia Chance, Mariel Hecher


Despite being one of the Westfield W-League’s most successful clubs historically, Brisbane Roar have dimmed somewhat in recent seasons.

Their last trophy was the 2016/17 Premiers Plate, while their last Grand Final appearance came all the way back in 2014.

Having finished fifth last season – their worst result in four years – the club have made some statement signings in the off-season, recruiting several current and former Matildas including Tameka Yallop, Clare Polkinghorne, Kim Carroll, Katrina Gorry and Emily Gielnik, as well as a handful of promising Aussie youngsters such as Jamilla Rankin, Leticia McKenna, Anna Margraf and Sharn Freier.

There is, therefore, a growing expectation that Jake Goodship – now in his second season – can use this well-balanced side to help return the Roar back to the pinnacle of the league, where they were in its early years.


COACH: Vicki Linton
KEY SIGNINGS: Michelle Heyman, Kendall Fletcher, Grace Maher, Paige Satchell, Bianca Galic


Canberra United are another once-dominant club that has experienced a fall from grace in recent years, finishing outside the top four in each of the past three seasons.

This slow slide down the ladder coincided with the departure of a number of fan favourites including Michelle Heyman, Kendall Fletcher, Nicky Flannery and Grace Maher, but it’s these same players that new Head Coach Vicki Linton has lured back to the club as United look to recapture the spark that made them one of the Westfield W-League’s most successful teams.

As the league’s only stand-alone women’s football club, Canberra holds a special place in Australia’s sporting landscape – and while they may not be at their spiritual home of McKellar Park this season, their player recruitment suggests they’re well on their way to restoring their once-envied spot both in the league and in the community more widely.


COACH: Rado Vidosic
KEY SIGNINGS: Teagan Micah, Jenna McCormick, Samantha Johnson, Hollie Palmer, Tori Tumeth, Chinatsu Kira


Having lost every player who started (and won) the Westfield W-League Grand Final against Sydney FC last season, Melbourne City are now undertaking an all-out rebuild.

Backing up an undefeated Premiership-Championship double is no easy feat at the best of times, let alone when all but three of the squad that did so have moved on.

However, the riches of City have attracted some of the country’s most promising players in the off-season including Matildas Teagan Micah and Jenna McCormick, as well as emerging stars Tori Tumeth, Hollie Palmer and Sofia Sakalis, which already bodes well for Rado Vidosic’s long-term plans with this new crop.

Added to this is experienced Japanese attacking midfielder Chinatsu Kira, who will likely take over from Emily van Egmond.

While City may not add to their already-heaving trophy cabinet, their campaign will instead see a handful of new faces announce themselves to fans and to national team selectors which, ultimately, is the longer-term form of success that all Westfield W-League clubs should be aiming for.


COACH: Jeff Hopkins
KEY SIGNINGS: Gaby Garton, Claudia Bunge, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Lisa De Vanna, Catherine Zimmerman


Much like their cross-town rivals, Melbourne Victory have lost a number of core players that helped the club finish runners-up last season including stand-out goalkeeper Casey Dumont (injury), Matildas centre-backs Laura Brock and Jenna McCormick, pacey international winger Darian Jenkins, and striker and captain Natasha Dowie.

Unlike City, though, Victory seem to have made far more like-for-like recruitments to fill in the gaps.

30-year old Argentinian international Gaby Garton takes over the gloves from Dumont, while up-and-coming Kiwi centre-back Claudia Bunge has been signed to partner American Kayla Morrison.

Further upfield, last year’s teen sensation Kyra Cooney-Cross returns from her loan spell with Western Sydney, supported by the experience of returning midfielders Annalie Longo and Amy Jackson.

Up front, Victorian NPLW star Catherine Zimmerman has been brought in alongside Matildas legend Lisa De Vanna, both of whom appear likely to cover for both the goal-scoring and leadership qualities of the departed Dowie.

Overall, Victory (on paper) have a solid central spine to rival that of Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney, making a third consecutive finals appearance well within reach.


COACH: Ashley Wilson
KEY SIGNINGS: Taren King, Tiana Jaber, Chloe O’Brien, Sunny Franco, Sophie Harding


As the only club that didn’t recruit a single international player last season, it was perhaps inevitable that Newcastle would find themselves struggling to keep pace with the rest of the Westfield W-League.

As it happens, the club finished last, winning just twice and drawing once.

The club’s off-field financial difficulties are partly to blame for this, but it could turn into a blessing in disguise for the Jets this season as the pandemic and exodus of Matildas has forced several other clubs to follow Newcastle’s lead in relying exclusively on local players.

Like Adelaide, many of the Jets’ players have worked together in previous seasons including Clare Coelho, Hannah Brewer, Cassidy Davis, Gema Simon, Tessa Tamplin, Tara Andrews and Panagiota Petratos.

As such, new head coach Ashley Wilson has recruited players who can complement this already-familiar core, luring centre-back Taren King from Canberra and picking up NSW NPLW stars Sunny Franco and Sophie Harding.

Their biggest area of concern, though, is in midfield, having lost stand-out players Clare Wheeler and Libby Copus-Brown to ‘bigger’ clubs and bringing in three midfielders with less than a handful of Westfield W-League caps between them.

How quickly these fresh faces can slip into the Jets’ already-solid outer structure could be the difference between a second consecutive wooden spoon and a more impressive finish.


COACH: Alex Epakis
KEY SIGNINGS: Lily Alfeld, Malia Steinmetz, Marianna Tabain, Elizabeth Anton, Isabella Wallhead


Perth have struggled to climb out of their post-Sam Kerr malaise.

They finished seventh in their first season without her in 2019/20, with their goal difference dropping from +8 to -5 in the process.

This season, new head coach Alex Epakis has an opportunity to define Perth’s post-Kerr era.

Despite the last-minute nature of his appointment and the difficult circumstances surrounding borders, Epakis has put together a squad featuring both consistent, experienced performers such as captain Natasha Rigby, Sarah Carroll, Elizabeth Anton and club favourite Marianna Tabain, as well as promising up-and-coming Aussie and Kiwi stars including Hana Lowry, Lily Alfeld, Caitlin Doeglas, Malia Steinmetz and Deborah-Ann de la Harpe.

Having been through the dynasty-building process himself at Sydney University, Epakis is the perfect fit for a Perth side looking to redefine itself.

While their limited pre-season and travel uncertainty might affect their early-season form, this squad will likely warm into their season and potentially throw a spanner in the campaigns of other teams towards the tail-end of 2020/21, just as they did last year in defeating both Brisbane and Sydney in the final three rounds.


COACH: Ante Juric
KEY SIGNINGS: Jada Mathyssen-Whyman, Rachel Lowe, Clare Wheeler, Allira Toby, Cortnee Vine


They may have lost their big-name stars in Caitlin Foord, Chloe Logarzo and Alanna Kennedy – as well as all three of last season’s internationals – but Sydney FC, like Adelaide and Newcastle, have maintained the same local crop of players for a number of seasons now; players who will finally have the chance to prove themselves.

The Sky Blues are the only club to qualify for finals in every season since the league’s beginning, having also made it to the Grand Final in four of the last five seasons, so maintaining this historic streak will be front-of-mind.

With no visa players to speak of, Sydney have recruited a number of emerging local stars such as midfielders Clare Wheeler and Rachel Lowe, as well as forwards Allira Toby and Cortnee Vine, to complement the largely young squad anchored in the culture and experience of veterans Ellie Brush and captain Teresa Polias.

One area of concern is between the posts as the injury-prone Jada Mathyssen-Whyman has been called in to replace the departed American Aubrey Bledsoe; whether the Young Matildas goalkeeper widely regarded as the heir apparent to Lydia Williams can stay fit could determine whether Sydney maintains their top-four record or slips down the ladder for the first time ever.


COACH: Dean Heffernan
KEY SIGNINGS: Sarah Willacy, Nikola Orgill, Georgia Yeoman-Dale, Libby Copus-Brown, Olivia Price, Leena Khamis


Melbourne City aren’t the only club whose results last season were dependent upon players no longer in the league.

Western Sydney have had to undergo a similarly hasty rebuild in the off-season, having lost their starting goalkeeper (Abby Smith), both centre-backs (Sam Staab and Alex Huynh), their entire midfield (Denise O’Sullivan, Amy Harrison, Ella Mastrantonio and Kyra Cooney-Cross), and their deadliest attackers (Kristen Hamilton, Lynn Williams and Cortnee Vine).

Their best-ever finish of fourth in 2019/20 was largely due to the consistency of this starting squad, with a handful of this season’s players getting minutes towards the back-end of the campaign following early departures.

While the club have recruited experienced local players to fill in the gaps including Sarah Willacy, Nikola Orgill, Georgia Yeoman-Dale, Olivia Price and Leena Khamis, it seems unlikely that the club will repeat last season’s record-breaking run.

However, Western Sydney is now home to an exciting crop of youngsters in Margaux Chauvet, Courtney Nevin, Aideen Keane, Bryleeh Henry, Isabel Gomez and Sarah Hunter, all of whom are on youth national team radars.

Success for the Wanderers may not come in the form of trophies this season, but rather allowing these players to springboard into the next stage of their promising careers.