The 2015-2016 season saw an unbeaten City cruise into the playoffs and final, a game the rookie outfit seemed destined to win. It was tougher this year as the reigning premiers found themselves facing a six game winless stretch, with the final fourth place spot only decided on the last day of the campaign.
The Melbournians flew to Perth and braved the late afternoon heat that reached a blistering 85 degrees against a Glory team that had been runners up in the 2014-2015 season and looking to lift their first trophy at home.
City pushed the advantage early and with under a minute played had threatened the hosts goal. Seattle Reign loanee Beverly Yanez miss-timed a free header and could only watch as the ball sailed safely out of bounds. Perth Glory snapped out of their early minute funk and spent the rest of the first half using the home field advantage to their benefit. Sam Kerr would keep City’s goalie Lydia Williams on her toes, a good sign for Houston Dash fans as she heads back to rejoin them for the season. The Sky Blue FC striker’s efforts would go unrewarded as the visitors fended off a blistering attack.
Player-coach Jess Fishlock dominated the midfield with accurate passing and several well timed tackles that prevented a handful of breakaways throughout the match, but her first half stoppage time goal sent City into the change room on a high. Some clever play between FC Kansas City‘s Erika Tymrak and Yanez down the attacking left side provided just enough distraction for Fishlock to ghost into the box and position herself for a cross that tested the midfielder’s flexibility. A special mention should go to the trainers in charge of the pre-game warm ups as Fishlock needed to pull off the splits in order to get the edge of her boot to the ball and direct it into the net!
The second half saw Kerr nearly level the scoreline in the 69th minute as her deflected header went wide of the post, and signalled the last real chance of the match for the home side. Three minutes later, Yanez would float a cross in that shifted dangerously towards goal, and briefly caught out Glory keeper Gabrielle Dal Busco. The Young Matilda’s keeper looked to have regained her footing but was only able to get the slightest of touches to the cross-shot which hit the bottom of the crossbar and nestled in for the second goal of the day.
Perth’s other NWSL loanees from the Chicago Red Stars Alyssa Mautz and Vanessa DiBernardo fight and uphill battle for the remaining minutes with the latter picking up a yellow card for her efforts.
At the final whistle, Fishlock would lift the trophy with Yanez, Williams, and Tymrak with their fellow NWSL companions Laura Allway of Orlando Pride and Lauren Barnes of the Seattle Reign. The future remains open to Fishlock at Melbourne City this coming year as they search for a new coach, having a winning coach-player already in their ranks.
International Women's Soccer