ALW Grand Final Preview: Western United vs Sydney FC

Hillary Beall Western United

Western United will aim to make history on Sunday afternoon, taking on Sydney FC in the 2022/23 Liberty A-League Women Grand Final.

Match Details

Liberty A-League Women Grand Final

Western United vs Sydney FC

Sunday, 30 April

Kick-off: 4:00pm AEST

CommBank Stadium, Parramatta

Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on 10Bold, 10Play and Paramount+

Team News

Mark Torcaso named an extended squad of 19 players for the Grand Final, with Angie Beard unfortunately ruled out after picking up an injury at Allianz Stadium in the Semi-Final two weeks ago.

United has called Tiana Jaber, Francesca Iermano and Aleksandra Sinclair into the extended list while Chloe Logarzo is also included as she battles to the final minute to be fit to feature.

Western United squad: 1. Alyssa DALL’OSTE (gk), 2. Stacey PAPADOPOULOS, 4. Jaclyn SAWICKI, 6. Chloe LOGARZO, 7. Francesca IERMANO, 9. Hannah KEANE, 10. Kahli JOHNSON, 11. Emma ROBERS, 13. Danielle STEER, 14. Natasha DAKIC, 15. Adriana TARANTO, 16. Melissa TARANTO, 18. Aleksandra SINCLAIR, 19. Tyla Jay VLAJNIC, 20. Sydney CUMMINGS, 21. Hillary BEALL (gk), 22. Alana CERNE, 24. Julia SARDO, 25. Tiana JABER

Full Western United squad

Road to the Grand Final

Western United’s journey into the Liberty A-League Women began long ago, but on the pitch it all kicked off on one historic day on Saturday 19 November.

A 1-0 opening day win against reigning Champions Melbourne Victory announced Western United to the competition and set an early marker for the ambition the side had.

The Green and Black would go on to win each of the following six matches, too, and continued its strong form to be in the race for the Premier’s Plate right until the final week.

Torcaso’s side defeated Western Sydney Wanderers in the last match of the regular season but fell one point short of the Premiership, solidifying a stunning second-placed finish in its inaugural season.

Hannah Keane won the league Golden Boot after netting 13 goals during the season, while Mark Torcaso and Hillary Beall both won multiple Coach and Player of the Month honours.

Beall’s season in goal was particularly exceptional and has been further rewarded with nomination for the Fans’ Player of the Season and selection in the Austraffic PFA Team of the Season.

United then booked its place in the Grand Final with a 1-0 victory over Sydney FC in the Semi-Final, earning a direct route to the big dance and a second finals date with the Sky Blues.

After pipping United to a third straight Liberty A-League Premiership, Sydney were forced into a Preliminary Final and overcame Melbourne Victory with a late Madison Haley goal sending them through.

The Opponent

Ante Juric’s Sydney FC continue to set the benchmark in the Liberty A-League and will ensure United must be at its very best again to claim the ultimate prize.

The Sky Blues finished top of the pile for the third season in a row, boasting one of the best front lines the competition has ever seen with Cortnee Vine, Princess Ibini and Madison Haley a significant threat to opposition defences.

Mackenzie Hawkesby has been a revelation in midfield while Natalie Tobin leads from the back, creating a formidable outfit across the park.

Sydney are vastly experienced in finals and have a history of heartache that they are eager to overcome, having lost each of the last three Grand Finals and five of the last seven, winning it once in that time.

Previous Meetings

United and Sydney have met three times already this season, splitting the regular season clashes before United got the edge in the Semi-Final.

The Green and Black scored an impressive 2-0 win the first time the two sides met as Keane fired a first-half brace to give United its seventh win in a row at the start of the season.

Sydney exacted their revenge in what ultimately became a Premiership decider in March, breaking the game open in the second half to secure a 3-0 victory.

Keane was the Sky Blues’ nemesis again two weeks ago, with her waist-high volley proving the difference and booking United’s ticket to the big dance.

Key Matchup: Stacey Papadopoulos vs Princess Ibini

There will be a number of huge matchups to keep an eye on across the pitch, but in particular will be fought on the wing as Stacey Papadopoulos and Princess Ibini go head to head.

One of many United players in her first professional season, Papadopoulos has been immense for the Green and Black and was sorely missed when she missed most of the back half of the season with a knee injury.

Both times United has beaten Sydney so far, Papadopoulos put in fantastic performances against Ibini, while the defeat against the Sky Blues came when United’s No.2 was on the sidelines.

Ibini remains one of the league’s best attackers and is capable of winning a game all on her own with her speed, skill and ability to finish inside the box.

Equally, Papadopoulos has emerged as one of the competition’s leading full-backs and that battle in the wide areas will be a crucial one in deciding the end result.

Player to Watch: Hannah Keane

With the season that she has had so far, Western United’s star No.9 in Keane will undoubtedly be one of the players to watch in this clash.

With 14 goals in 19 matches throughout the campaign so far, the American has been the deadliest striker in the league and been a vital player for United all season long.

Keane’s record against Sydney in previous meetings this season will give her confidence and have the Sky Blues’ defence on high alert to try to stop her from scoring.

Every goal that United has scored against Sydney this season has come from the No.9’s boot, and if she can add some more to her tally then she will give her side a major chance in the Grand Final.

Words from Mark Torcaso

On how proud he is of his players and the entire Club to reach this point

“To sit and have conversations with these players and say ‘let’s jump on this journey again and try to do something again, be successful in the women’s game’ – proud is an understatement, it’s something that I can’t even put into words to be quite honest.

“I’m just proud of them, and I just hope they enjoy this week leading up and obviously what’s going to come on Sunday.”

On how the group has regained focus after the Semi-Final win

“It was very important to make sure that wasn’t our Grand Final against Sydney, in the Semi-Final.

“We’ve trained really well for the last two weeks, we switched off the second we celebrated that one and we focused on whoever we would be playing next.”

Words from the playing squad – Hillary Beall

On the squad being ready to deliver on the biggest stage

“Every time there’s a big game, a lot of players step up. I think we’re all ready for it, we stepped up in the last game and like I said before, big players show up in big moments. We’ve got a lot of big players on our team, so we’re ready for it.”

On her own pride as a leader in the group

“It’s definitely been a fairy tale story the entire season. Being our inaugural season and being able to make the Grand Final means a lot to this Club.

“I’m really proud of our group. In my first season personally, to have that after training for a whole year and not being given any time, to now be in the Grand Final – it’s a fairy tale story to kick off my career so I’m really excited for it.”