Taylor Ray’s seven seasons with Sydney FC

After seven seasons, which involved Matildas call-ups, three Premierships, three Championships and four Grand Finals, Taylor Ray will depart the fields of Sydney FC and venture elsewhere. 

Resilience and perseverance are two words that describe Ray, who maintained her high energy, bubbly and cheerful personality amid university studies and two ACL tears, all whilst playing for the Sky Blues. 

The 23-year-old is one of Sydney FC’s central midfielders and she clocked in her most appearances in a Liberty A-League season this campaign.

She often recovered, dispatched and moved the ball up the field as she manufactured much of Sydney FC’s free-flowing movement on the pitch. 

Taylor Ray FC poses after Sydney FC defeated Melbourne City in the A-League Women Grand Final.

It’s clear how much Sydney FC has meant to the youngster when announcing her departure.

“My journey with Sydney FC is definitely something I will hold very close to my heart where the club was my family growing up into the person and player I am today,” she said.

“I am very grateful for the incredible players I’ve been able to play alongside and to have met some of the most amazing people who I can proudly call my best friends.

“To Ante, the squad all the Sydney FC staff a massive ‘thank-you’ for supporting me in the Sky Blue for the last seven seasons.”

Ray was born in sunny Townsville, where she spent most of her childhood outdoors, learning football from her mum at aged four and exploring the wilderness with her dad. 

But after years spent training and working on the football pitches in Queensland, Ray departed the shores of Townsville’s Strand and entered the Harbour City aged 15. 

Here she would gain experience playing for the Football NSW Institute in 2015, when she ruptured her ACL, halting her progress towards top-flight football. 

She bounced back earning a contract with the Sky Blues at the beginning of the 2017/2018 season.

Taylor Ray in 2018

Ray made her Sydney FC debut in December 2017 when Ante Juric substituted her for Amy Harrison against Jada Whyman’s Western Sydney Wanderers. 

She wouldn’t play again until Australia Day in 2018 when she started her first match under Juric. Within four minutes of her first start in the Sky Blue, she smacked the ball from the centre of the box into the bottom left corner. 

But, she would not feature until later that year when she became a regular substitute for Ante Juric’s side. 

After being on course to complete her first full season for the Sky Blues in 2018/19, an 18th-minute tackle against the Western Sydney Wanderers in January 2019 would see her tear her ACL for the second time. 

Yet again, the young, bubbly midfielder would be relegated to the sidelines for a year as she rehabilitated her right knee and watched as the Sky Blues lifted the 2019 Championship.

Her comeback came towards the end of the 2019/2020 season, and she was available to start the Grand Final.

Taylor Ray against Melbourne Victory in the Semi-Final

A Championship against Melbourne City would allow the teenager to be on field to earn her first professional trophy as she started alongside Nat Tobin, Alanna Kennedy and Remy Siemsen. 

However, the side could not claw back Steph Catley’s 15th-minute goal, as City dominated the contest behind COVID-induced closed doors at an eerie AAMI Park. 

Moving into the 2020/2021 season, the side had shaken off their Grand Final woes of the previous season and went onto win the Premiership under Captain Teresa Polias.

After featuring in most games Ray suffered another Grand Final heartbreak going down 1-0 to Melbourne Victory in extra time after coming on in the 114th minute for Mackenzie Hawkesby. 

However, she was cheered up by lifting the Sydney FC Under 20’s Player of the Year that season, which was capped off by a spectacular long range goal against the Newcastle Jets in her second game.

Her 2021/2022 season was another standout season for her with a call up to her lifelong dream team, The Matildas after winning Sydney FC’s A-League Women U20 Player of the Year once more. 

She would record an average of 62 touches and 40 passes per game, building on her previous season’s performance as she became one of the key playmakers for the Sky Blues. 

Hoping to do the same thing she had done all season, now in the green and gold, she made her debut against Spain in the 76th minute, coming on for Katrina Gorry and had her first Matildas appearance under her belt.

Taylor Ray against Spain

But tragedy was to strike the next day when she would rupture her ACL for the third time in six years, the day after her international debut, seeing her sidelined for yet another year. 

Her time away from the pitch allowed her to study for a Bachelor of Health Science while watching the Sky Blues complete a memorable double.

In the first round of the Liberty A-League 2023/2024 season Ray was called up as a substitute and would come on in the final ten minutes. 

After playing a couple more games, Ray would assist Jordan Thompson against City and then Jynana Dos Santos a month later against Wellington.

Taylor Ray before her assist against Wellington

Ray blossomed and helped to guide Sydney FC to her fourth Grand Final. 

Her tenacity and battling qualities helped her play in her second Championship winning team with the club, and they are qualities she will take into her future endeavours.