W-League preview: Sydney v Victory

Melbourne Victory begins its Westfield W-League Premiership defence with a trip to Sydney FC on Sunday.

Summary

Victory claimed its maiden Premier's Plate last season, finishing four points clear at the top before suffering a Semi Final loss.

It starts its defence against Westfield W-League champion Sydney at Jubilee Stadium.

Victory has made numerous changes to its squad heading into the 2019/20 season, which will see it play away from home in the opening two rounds.

Westfield Matilda Jenna McCormick and American trio Emily Menges, Haley Hanson and Darian Jenkins are among Victory's signings for the campaign.

New Zealand international Annalie Longo and Amy Jackson – who has made 47 Westfield W-League appearances for the club – have also joined.

Jeff Hopkins' side will again be captained by Victory's all-time leading Westfield W-League goalscorer, Natasha Dowie, who is back for a fifth season.

Victory was last beaten in Round 1 of a Westfield W-League season in 2015, having won one and drawn two openers since then.

Head coach Jeff Hopkins' pre-match thoughts

on preparations...
"It's quite difficult preparing when you haven't got all your squad, but we've done a fair bit of individual stuff, fair bit of general stuff and the girls that are out on the park are looking in really good condition. It's been a bit disjointed but for what we've been able to do, I've been really happy with where we are."

on the squad...
"I think every year, whether you're successful or unsuccessful, it's good to just refresh the team a little bit and we've definitely done that. We've lost a few players and we've released a few players, but I think in general we've done pretty well with our recruitment. We've brought in two real top-quality defenders in Jenna and in Emily to add to what we've got already. Haley Hanson, really looking forward to working with her, but also Annalie Longo as well, being able to bring a player in as a local player with more than 100 caps for her country, she was an excellent pick-up. Amy Jackson, really experienced W-League player who we've been kind of chasing for a few years now. I look at Grace Maher as well, who's getting better and better each year. We'll get a lot out of her this year. Her ability to get forward, to see a pass, to be able to execute as well, she kind of reminds me of a young Christine Nairn so hoping she can not replace Christine, but go some way to doing that. She's her own person and she brings a lot of stuff to the team, very, very competent and looking really good in our pre-season games as well."

on Sydney...
"It's a tough one. We've got a pretty testing first month actually with Sydney and then we go away again on the Thursday to Brisbane and then we're off to Korea for three games (at the AFC Women's Club Championship) and then back for Western Sydney, who will be very strong as well, so a tough, very testing first month but also it gives us the opportunity to have a good start and to maybe get a run on one or two of our teams that we expect will be our rivals this year so we're kind of looking it as an opportunity to maybe get one over them, rather than looking at it as a negative. I know by the time you get to the end of pre-season, we're all looking forward to just getting out there and playing a game. The players that have come in, there's been a really good vibe, they've gelled really well on and off the field so it's actually a good place to be around at the moment."

Last time

Westfield W-League 2018/19 Round 13
Melbourne Victory 2-2 Sydney FC
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Lakeside Stadium, Melbourne

Victory came from behind twice when the teams met late last season.

Dowie set up Emily Gielnik to cancel out Alanna Kennedy's opener before scoring herself after Chloe Logarzo had made it 2-1 to Sydney.

Victory goalkeeper Casey Dumont made a penalty save to deny Caitlin Foord early on.

Opta Widget: Last time

Match details

Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
Sunday, November 17, 2019
Kick-off: 4.00pm AEDT