Western United’s Liberty A-League Women Grand Final appearance will give many players their first experience at this level in the Club’s inaugural season.
Some members of the squad have been in and around the Liberty A-League before, and for three players in particular this will be an opportunity almost a decade in the making.
For twin sisters Adriana and Melissa Taranto, a contract at Western United was a lifeline some eight years after their first professional deals.
The pair signed for Melbourne Victory way back in 2015, with the two midfielders just 16 years old at the time and involved in camps for Australian youth national teams.
Adriana made 18 appearances for Victory over two seasons while Melissa played 10 times over the same period before both spent a spell outside the Liberty A-League.
The Taranto twins joined Calder United in 2019, becoming integral members of the squad that won the treble that year, the NIKE F.C. Cup in 2021 and another treble in 2022.
That form at NPLW level earned Adriana and Melissa another shot at Liberty A-League football with contracts at Western United, joining a strong contingent of Calder United players and staff in Green and Black.
Adriana has featured in every single Liberty A-League match this season while Melissa has missed just one game, with the sisters working together to dominate opposing midfields.
Now six years on from their previous Liberty A-League Women experience, the sisters will head out into a Grand Final in a full circle moment in their football careers.
Another player who has had to wait her time in the wings is Hannah Keane, though her footballing journey has been quite different to that of the Taranto twins.
After finishing her collegiate career, Keane sought pastures new in Australia and joined Alamein FC for the 2016 NPLW Victoria season.
The American proceeded to dominate the competition, scoring 15 goals in 18 matches and was on the radar of Melbourne City.
Keane spent the entire pre-season with City before missing out on a contract at the last minute, but the striker never wavered from her path forward as City went on to lift the Championship.
Six years later and after stints in Portugal, Spain and Germany, Keane returned to Australia for real this time when Mark Torcaso and Western United came calling.
The first international acquisition for United’s inaugural Liberty A-League team, Keane has become one of the competition’s star players, winning the Golden Boot with 13 goals, the joint-fourth highest total in a single season.
Carrying that form into the Finals Series, Keane scored the vital winner in United’s Semi-Final victory over Sydney FC before leaping in celebration, an almost cathartic moment as she continued her journey to redemption in Australian football.
Torcaso always said that he would bring Keane with him to the Liberty A-League, and so far it has been the perfect match on the pitch.
Keane and the Taranto sisters are all set to feature prominently on Grand Final day and will no doubt consider their respective journeys to this point as they go in search of an historic Championship with Western United.