Young Footballer of the Year: The contenders

A constant theme in the Westfield W-League over the years has been the competition’s ability to unearth talented youngsters around the country.

And the 2019/20 Season is no exception with four outstanding contenders to be named the Westfield W-League Young Footballer of the Year.

Who will take out the prestigious award this year and join an illustrious list which includes the likes of Steph Catley, Kyah Simon, Elise Kellond-Knight and Remy Siemsen.

Kyra Cooney-Cross – Western Sydney Wanderers

After bursting onto the scene at Melbourne Victory, the young Queenslander made her way to the Wanderers at the start of 2019/20 looking to cement herself in the competition.

And the talented teen made an immediate impact at Wanderland, coming off the bench to score a stoppage-time winner in the opening round win over Adelaide United.

It was the sign of things to come as Cooney-Cross broke into the starting side and the Wanderers won all three games in November, with the Young Matildas becoming that month’s nomination for the Young Footballer of the Year.

She would end the campaign with 13 appearances, notching four goals and three assists, with a passing accuracy of almost 75%.

Indiah-Paige Riley – Brisbane Roar

After Roar made a slow start to the season, they burst to life in December with an 18-year-old Riley leading the way.

The New Zealand-born attacker started all four games in the last month of the year as Roar went unbeaten with three wins and a draw in four matches.

Riley scored the opening goal in the win over Adelaide United in Round 5 as Roar prevailed in a five-goal thriller, before Jake Goodship’s side recorded further wins against Canberra United (Round 4) and Newcastle Jets (Round 7).

In a side with a stack of Westfield Matildas talent, Riley stole the show and was a worthy nominee as one of the competition’s leading youngsters.

Ellie Carpenter – Melbourne City

The Westfield Matildas defender is chasing history in this award, looking to become the first player to be named the Young Footballer of the Year for three successive years.

And you wouldn’t bet against Carpenter doing just that after a phenomenal maiden season with City, which ended with a Premiership-Championship double.

Carpenter was rewarded for a flawless month to be January’s nominee, with City winning all three games without conceding a goal.

After signing with French giants Olympique Lyonnais last month, winning this award again would cap another sensational year for the 20-year-old right-back.

Hollie Palmer – Brisbane Roar

Roar may have fallen just short of a Finals Series berth in February but Palmer’s exceptional displays that month earned her the final nomination for the Young Footballer of the Year.

Palmer featured in three games in February, starting twice and coming on as a half-time substitute against Melbourne City to become one of only five players to score against the Champions all season.

The Young Matilda also produced an assist, with a left-wing cross, for Carson Pickett’s headed goal in Brisbane’s 5-0 win against Canberra United in Round 13.

The 19-year-old finished her third Westfield W-League season with 12 appearances in total, starting five of the last six games, while she also scored in the 2-1 win against Newcastle Jets back in Round 7 – a 69th-minute match-winner.