Last week it was the return of the A-League. This week it’s the W-League’s turn, returning for an 8th season with Brisbane opening the season at home to defending champions Canberra United as part of a double header at Suncorp Stadium.
Last year was one to forget for the women’s team as they missed the finals for just the first time in seven years, while Canberra went on to win the W-League Championship for the second time.
Due to the disappointment of finishing 6th in the then 8 team competition, coach Belinda Wilson has made mass changes to the playing squad with a number of high profile players departing the scene. German captain and goalkeeper Nadine Angerer and Australian internationals Laura Alleway, Hayley Raso, Kim Carroll, Elise Kellond-Knight and Larissa Crummer all departed, as did a couple of other fringe players which has left Wilson with an almost entirely new roster.
Of those who remain, captain Clare Polkinghorne and her new vice captain Tameka Butt have been a part of the Roar camp from day one, and with their Matildas teammate Katrina Gorry, the Roar squad still has plenty of quality and experience. Others who remain from last year include Amy Chapman, Emily Gielnik and Ayesha Norrie, who all saw regular game time last year and will be expected to have strong campaigns this time around.
The group of new players is headlined by American goalkeeper Haley Kopemeyer, with the Seattle Reign goalkeeper arriving in Brisbane in the search of game time after spending the last season as Hope Solo’s understudy. Former Perth attacker Gabe Marzano is also new to the side, while a number of players from the NPL Queensland were selected to provide depth and competition for places.
Canberra for their part as you would expect of the defending champions are a more settled squad, with just a handful of new signings to freshen things up as they seek to defend their title. Mexican international midfielder Veronica Perez arrives to add additional creativity, while the team from the nation’s capital have also picked up New Zealand international attacker Emma Kete and young Australian defender Emma Checker to add additional depth.
1) Haley Kopmeyer, 2) Brooke Goodrich, 3) Amy Chapman, 4) Clare Polkinghorne, 6) Angela Beard, 7) Gabe Marzano, 8) Ayesha Norrie, 9) Cortnee Vine, 10) Katrina Gorry, 12) Alisha Foote, 13) Tameka Butt, 14) Summer O’Brien, 15) Ruth Blackburn, 16) Ashley Spina, 17) Emily Gielnik, 18) Maili Forbes, 19) Sofie Persson, 20) Carrie Simpson.
1) Lydia Williams, 2) Catherine Brown, 3) Julia de Angelis, 4) Kendall Fletcher, 5) Jenna McCormick, 6) Caitlin Munoz, 7) Ellie Brush, 8) Meg McLaughlin, 9) Grace Gill, 10) Grace Maher, 11) Michelle Heyman, 12) Emma Kete, 13) Nicole Begg, 14) Ashleigh Sykes, 15) Emma Checker, 16) Tegan Riding, 17) Veronica Perez, 18) Rebecca Kitting, 19) Nickoletta Flannery, 20) Melissa Maizels.
Brisbane have had a pretty good record against Canberra United down the years, with the Roar winning 8 of their seventeen meetings, including the inaugural W-League Grand Final. This will be the fourth time that the two sides have played in round one, with the previous three resulting in a win for each, along with one draw. Their last round one meeting was back in season six, when the visiting Canberra side ran out convincing 3-0 winners up in Redcliffe.
This year looms as a big one for both coach Wilson and the team, after a season of disappointing results in comparison to the years before, the pressure will be on to at the very least return to the top four, a task which will be tougher than ever before with the emergence of the big spending Melbourne City.
Kick-off in the W-League clash is set for 1.00pm with the A-League clash between Brisbane and Central Coast to follow at 4.00pm. After the completion of both games, members will be allowed access to the playing field for a photo with all three of the club’s teams.