Western United will face a blockbuster derby clash for the second round in a row in the Liberty A-League Women, hosting Melbourne City in Round 3 on Sunday.
Liberty A-League Women Round 3
Western United vs Melbourne City
Sunday, 5 November
Kick-off: 4:00pm AEDT
City Vista Pavilion and Sports Field, Fraser Rise
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live and free on 10Play, and on Paramount+
Mark Torcaso has named a 20-player extended squad for the clash with a number of options to consider ahead of matchday.
Chloe Logarzo will hope to back up her first start in over a year with another this weekend, while Hillary Beall will be pushing to play after her return was confirmed this week.
Young start Avaani Prakash is in the extended squad and would be making her senior professional debut if she features, while Keiwa Hieda will be competing for a place in the starting XI after her match-winning goal last time out.
Western United squad: 1. Alyssa DALL’OSTE (gk), 2. Stacey PAPADOPOULOS, 4. Jaclyn SAWICKI, 6. Chloe LOGARZO, 7. Kiara DE DOMIZIO, 9. Hannah KEANE, 10. Kahli JOHNSON, 11. Emma ROBERS, 12. Lucy RICHARDS, 13. Avaani PRAKASH, 14. Natasha DAKIC, 15. Adriana TARANTO, 16. Melissa TARANTO, 18. Grace MAHER, 19. Tyla Jay VLAJNIC, 20. Keiwa HIEDA, 21. Hillary BEALL (gk), 22. Alana CERNE, 24. Julia SARDO, 26. Natalie PICAK (gk)
Last time out
The Green and Black picked up its first win of the season in dramatic fashion last time out, coming from a goal down to defeat rivals Melbourne Victory 2-1.
Melissa Taranto equalised early in the second half before Hieda scored the eventual winner, bundling the ball in from close range and getting United on the board for the first time this season.
Melbourne City have been a powerhouse in the Liberty A-League for some time and have got their season off to the perfect start.
Wins against Wellington Phoenix and Canberra United have City joint top of the league alongside Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar as the only sides with a perfect record through two rounds.
New Zealand’s World Cup hero Hannah Wilkinson got off the mark in Round 1 and Rhianna Pollicina has picked up from where she left off last season alongside Holly McNamara and the remainder of City’s star-studded squad.
Dario Vidosic’s side will have their sights set on competing at the top of the table and chasing silverware again this season, providing United with stern early-season test.
Key Matchup: Grace Maher vs Hannah Wilkinson
Grace Maher has made a scintillating start to life at Western United, immediately shining at centre-back and having a big influence on the squad.
The vice-captain has been a key figure in United’s new style of play, helping the team bring the ball out of defence with accuracy and composure on the ball.
Her defensive strength and resolve have also been on display in the opening two matches, and she will need every ounce of it against Wilkinson on Sunday.
The tall, powerful striker has been a handful for Liberty A-League defences for a number of years and with the confidence of an opening round goal and a memorable World Cup campaign, she will be eager to put her stamp on proceedings here.
If Maher is able to keep Wilkinson out of the action and repel her threat in the box, her quality on the ball could help get United going at the other end and attempt to win the game.
Player to Watch: Adriana Taranto
One of United’s best players so far across the first two matches of the season, Adriana Taranto has been thriving in a further advanced role in midfield.
Given licence to join the attack and look to break the last line of defence, Taranto has been a threat in the final third while also using her brilliance on the ball to help keep possession in midfield.
After setting up her sister for the equaliser against Melbourne Victory, the No.15 is off the mark in terms of goal contributions and looking to eclipse her total from last season.
Playing in that more advanced role, Taranto is eager to bring more creativity into her game and will be a major threat on Sunday, looking to emulate her goal-scoring appearance against Melbourne City last season.
Words from Mark Torcaso
On returning from international duty to rejoin the Western United squad
“The girls have trained really well in the last week and a half. All the footage and the information I’ve seen from the staff is that they’ve trained really well.
On the return of Hillary Beall and the inclusion of Avaani Prakash
“Hillary has had three or four sessions and she’s looking as sharp as she looked when she left. It’s good to have her back, she’s got a great presence.
“Signing Avaani, she is a 16-year-old kid who hopefully has a really good experience with us. She’s probably deserved an opportunity in the past in the A-League and just didn’t get it.”