Prior to this season Sydney FC were the only club to qualify for every edition of the Westfield W-League Finals Series, so it’s little surprise they return again to defend their Championship title.
By their high standards, it has been a somewhat up-and-down campaign for Ante Juric’s side but there was never any sense they would not seal their place in the top four.
Finishing the season in third place, the Sky Blues will lock horns with Melbourne Victory next Saturday, March 14 at Epping Stadium (kick-off 2pm AEDT) as they seek a third consecutive Grand Final appearance.
Here’s a look back at some of the Sky Blues’ best moments on the way to the Finals Series.
Story of the season
It was an impressive start to their Championship defence for the Sky Blues as they posted three straight wins to open their season in November – including a decisive 3-0 opening day win against defending Premiers Melbourne Victory.
However, December proved to be their cruelest month as they received a reality check in a 2-1 defeat to Melbourne City and then the harshest of wake-up calls in a 5-0 loss against Western Sydney Wanderers.
However, their response was testament to their character as they won three of their next four games in a series of impressive shut-outs against Adelaide United (2-0), Canberra United (4-0), Brisbane Roar (0-0) and the Wanderers (3-0).
They hit a speed-bump in the final two rounds with defeats to Perth Glory and the Victory, but their 13 goals conceded is the second-best defensive return in the league and suggests the foundations are still strong.
Best game – Sydney FC 3-0 Western Sydney Wanderers
The departures of Westfield Matildas duo Caitlin Foord and Chloe Logarzo in January had plenty wondering whether Sydney FC’s campaign would die on the vine in the closing rounds.
The test of their resolve came in the form of a Wanderers outfit sitting in second position and brimming with the confidence of having dusted their cross-town rival 5-0 earlier in the season.
What followed was exceptional as the Sky Blues stifled their opponents throughout the 90 minutes in a defend-from-the-front masterclass – especially taking into account Alanna Kennedy was rested from the clash.
American attacker Veronica Latsko embraced the increased weight on her shoulders up front with an early opener before Ellie Brush delivered her first goal in Sky Blue against her former club just minutes later.
Newly-signed Canadian Lindsay Agnew was also revelation in her debut at full back, while the always busy Sofia Huerta wrapped up the win with a deserved goal late in the piece.
Best goal – Remy Siemsen v Perth Glory
Having only come away from Adelaide the week prior with the slenderest of wins, the Sky Blues needed a good start in scorching conditions in Perth and got it in just the third minute through Remy Siemsen.
The build-up was forthright and well-drilled as a series of short passes delivered to ball to Siemsen in space in the box.
However, the finish was even better as the Young Matilda lobbed Glory ‘keeper Eliza Campbell on the angle to set the tone for what ended up a 3-1 win for her side.
The key to Sydney FC’s passing game has always been in the midfield and the tireless efforts of inspirational skipper Teresa Polias are still the grease that keeps the Sky Blues machine ticking over every week.
Up front, Remy Siemsen continues to build her reputation year-on-year as her precocious talent in the final third delivered seven goals to finish in a four-way tie for the competition’s Golden Boot.
Defensively, Westfield Matildas’ star Alanna Kennedy was again a rock in the backline, but it was Ellie Brush, Natalie Tobin and Angelique Hristodoulou who were the unsung heroes alongside.
Between the sticks, goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe was ever reliable as she posted 51 saves through the campaign, while her compatriots Sofia Huerta and Veronika Latsko went from strength-to-strength as the season progressed.
Melbourne Victory (2) v Sydney FC (3)
Date: Saturday, 14 March 2020
Venue: Epping Stadium, Epping
Kick-off: 2:00pm (AEDT)