Canberra United will be targeting a fourth W-League grand final when they face off against reigning champions Melbourne City at GIO Stadium on Sunday night.
United finished the regular season as premiers after a resounding 5-1 win against Melbourne Victory saw them leapfrog Sydney FC in the final round of the campaign.
The match saw captain Ashleigh Sykes move clear on the top of the scoring charts with twelve goals, capping off a run of eight goals in four games.
Sykes’ prowess in front of goal is a key part of United’s attacking philosophy, further enabled by the tireless efforts of wingbacks Hayley Raso and Stephanie Ochs.
Raso and Ochs provide the wide service for Sykes and Jasmyne Spencer up front, using their speed to give opposition defenders headaches.
The midfield is built upon the experience of Japanese international Yukari Kinga, further bolstered by the energy of 22-year-old Celeste Boureille and 17-year-old Grace Maher.
At the back is the defensive trio of Emma Checker, Hannah Brewer and Jenna McCormick, supported by the safe hands of Trudy Burke in goal.
Melbourne City took the W-League by storm last season in their debut campaign, going undefeated on the way to a premiership-championship double.
Things have gone slightly off course this season though, losing their undefeated streak to Canberra United in round six and failing to win their subsequent five matches.
Consecutive wins against Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets steadied the ship and earned fourth place.
The backline is overloaded with experience, with Matildas Laura Alleway, Steph Cately and Teigen Allen teaming up with US import Lauren Barnes.
Should the defensive line be breached, there is another Matilda in the way, former Canberra United goalkeeper Lydia Williams.
Imports Jess Fishlock and Erika Tymrak lead the midfield alongside Aivi Luik, with Fishlock leading her side’s scoring charts with six goals of the highest order.
Melina Ayres, Beverley Yanez and Marianna Tabain lead the forward line, missing the firepower of last year’s top scorer Larissa Crummer.
There is no second chance for either side, the winner moves onto the grand final and the loser is out. Can United hold their nerve and keep their dreams of a third W-League championship alive, or will City continue in their quest to go back-to-back? Come to GIO Stadium on Sunday and find out.
Kicking off at GIO Stadium at 8pm, the match is sure to be a blockbuster, and fans can purchase tickets here. Make sure you are bright, vocal and out in force to support Canberra United, but don't forget to stay safe and hydrated in the hot weather. We can't wait to #CUinGreen!
Canberra United squad: 1.Trudy BURKE (gk), 2.Yukari KINGA, 4.Clare HUNT, 5.Jenna McCORMICK, 7.Ellie BRUSH, 8.Hayley RASO, 9.Jasmyne SPENCER, 10.Grace MAHER, 12.Hannah BREWER, 13.Celeste BOUREILLE, 14.Ashley SYKES, 15.Emma CHECKER, 16.Karly ROESTBAKKEN, 18.Kahlia HOGG, 19.Nickoletta FLANNERY, 20.Georgia BORIC (gk), 22.Stephanie OCHS, 32.Lisa DE VANNA
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 4.Clare HUNT (promoted), 18.Kahlia HOGG (promoted), 16.Karly ROESTBAKKEN (promoted)
Unavailable: 11.Michelle HEYMAN (ankle – 1-2 weeks)
Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Lydia WILLIAMS (gk), 2.Teigen ALLEN, 3.Lauren BARNES, 5.Laura ALLEWAY, 6.Aivi LUIK, 7.Steph CATLEY (c), 10.Jessica FISHLOCK, 11.Erika TYMRAK, 13.Rebekah STOTT, 14.Melina AYRES, 15.Amy JACKSON, 16.Beverly YANEZ, 17.Marianna TABAIN, 18.Jacynta GALABADAARACHCHI, 19.Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC, 20.Emily SHIELDS (gk)
Ins: 18.Jacynta GALABADAARACHCHI (promoted), 19.Tyla Jay VLAJNIC (promoted)
Unavailable: 9.Larissa CRUMMER (foot – season)