It wasn’t meant to be for Western United in the Liberty A-League Women Grand Final as the Green and Black fell to a 3-0 defeat against Sydney FC at CommBank Stadium on Sunday.
Madison Haley gave Sydney the perfect start with a header from a corner inside four minutes before Natalie Tobin doubled the lead with an almost identical goal just over 10 minutes later.
United fought for a way back into the match but despite a period of dominance towards the end of the first half, there was no route forthcoming.
Princess Ibini made it 3-0 with a penalty just after the hour mark, consigning Western United to defeat on the day at the end of an outstanding inaugural season.
There were two changes to the starting line-up from the Semi-Final, one being enforced as Danielle Steer came into the team and Tyla Jay Vlajnic dropped to left-back in place of the injured Angie Beard.
Jaclyn Sawicki also returned to the starting XI as Melissa Taranto was named on a bench that included Tiana Jaber for just the third time.
It was a nightmare start for United as Sydney took the lead inside the opening four minutes, with the goal coming from Sydney’s first corner of the match.
Mackenzie Hawkesby’s floated ball was met powerfully by Haley at the back post, with her header falling into a vacated net as Hillary Beall came out to punch.
United looked to settle into the game and found its feet in possession after the early blow, as Adriana Taranto had a sighter from long-range that looped just beyond the apex of post and crossbar.
Hannah Keane came even closer soon after when she latched onto a long ball from Tyla Jay Vlajnic before firing a left-footed half volley narrowly over the bar.
Sydney then created a second goal from an almost identical set piece, this time Tobin supplied the header that just cleared Alana Cerne on the goal line.
The Sky Blues continued to threaten and Cortnee Vine came close to sneaking one in the corner at the near post, but the Green and Black quickly began to shift the momentum and had a few strong look-ins at goal.
The first came from a lofted free-kick into the box by Vlajnic and after a scramble in front of goal the ball fell to Sydney Cummings whose shot deflected kindly into the grasp of Jada Whyman.
Keane was next up with a flicked finish from Steer’s cutback, and while her effort seemed destined to bend towards the bottom corner, there was just not enough power to evade Whyman as the Sydney keeper pounced on the ball.
United’s No.9 was in the thick of it and had another effort blocked before the ball spilled to Adriana Taranto, but a combination of Whyman and Sydney’s defence made a desperate block and cleared the ball to safety, ensuring Sydney’s two-goal lead remained heading into half-time.
United began sharply in the second half, looking to carry on that momentum from the end of the first half and look for a way back into the match.
Melissa Taranto came off the bench to inject some more energy into the midfield, but Sydney adjusted quickly and began to get back on top in the match.
Cortnee Vine began to stretch United’s defence and had two shots in quick succession, but Beall was able to save well to keep the score at 2-0.
Rachel Lowe put another shot on target as Beall continued to keep United in the game, but Sydney were awarded a penalty just after the hour mark when Stacey Papadopoulos was adjudged to have pulled down Ibini.
Ibini dusted herself off and dispatched the penalty into the bottom left corner, putting Sydney into an almost unassailable position.
The Green and Black continued to everything to fight back in the contest but it proved a step too far after the team’s extraordinary season as Sydney FC became Champions.