Western United will play its first ever Liberty A-League Women match on Saturday, hosting Melbourne Victory at City Vista Pavilion and Sports Field.
Liberty A-League Round 1
Western United vs Melbourne Victory
Saturday, 19 November
Kick-off: 3pm AEDT
City Vista Pavilion and Sports Field, Plumpton
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live and free on 10Play, and on Paramount+
Western United’s inaugural Liberty A-League squad features Matildas star Chloe Logarzo and American powerhouse Jessica McDonald.
Young talents Alana Cerne and Kahli Johnson are also in the squad, while there is plenty of Liberty A-League experience with the likes of Tyla Jay Vlajnic and Emma Robers.
Jaclyn Sawicki will captain the side along with vice-captains Chloe Logarzo and Hillary Beall, with McDonald and Vlajnic completing the leadership group.
Western United squad: 1. Alyssa Dall’OSTE (gk), 2. Stacey Papadopoulos, 4. Jaclyn SAWICKI (c), 6. Chloe LOGARZO, 7. Francesca IERMANO, 8. Jessica McDONALD, 9. Hannah KEANE, 10. Kahli JOHNSON, 11. Emma ROBERS, 15. Adriana TARANTO, 16. Melissa TARANTO, 17. Raquel DERALAS, 18. Aleksandra SINCLAIR, 19. Tyla Jay VLAJNIC, 20. Sydney CUMMINGS, 21. Hillary BEALL (gk), 22. Alana CERNE, 24. Julia SARDO
Mark Torcaso brought his squad together with four weeks of pre-season training and has seen the group develop quickly in that period.
Hannah Keane was amongst the goals in both those games while McDonald has also impressed up front, along with Robers in midfield and Sydney Cummings at the back.
Melbourne Victory will provide a stern test for United in Round 1, coming into this season as the two-time reigning Liberty A-League Champions.
Jeff Hopkins has had great success with the club over a number of years and has had some of the league’s biggest stars at his disposal.
Matilda Alex Chidiac had a superb 2021/22 campaign and was selected in the PFA Team of the Season, Melina Ayres is a proven goal scorer and captain Kayla Morrison is a big inclusion at the back after missing last season with an ACL injury.
Key Matchup: Jessica McDonald vs Kayla Morrison
McDonald will be coming up against her former side nearly 10 years after she played for Victory, and she will be out to get the better of her compatriot Morrison.
The Victory captain will have her hands full with McDonald who has arrived with hunger in pre-season, earning two assists and a goal in United’s two friendly wins.
McDonald’s pace, tenacity and ability to finish in a number of ways will be a threat to Victory’s defence, and she will need all of her talent to overcome Morrison in what could be a decisive battle.
Player to Watch: Hannah Keane
Of the plethora of eye-catching talent set to take to the pitch in this game, Keane might just capture the most attention if she can continue her pre-season form.
A late winner to beat Victory was followed by a superb brace against City, with American Keane getting familiar with the goalscoring feeling in Australia straight away.
Her strength and ball control under pressure has also been impressive, and together with McDonald and the other attacking firepower in the side, Keane could be set for a big performance.
Words from Mark Torcaso
On the young players stepping into the professional environment for the first time
“I’ve been more impressed with the way they’ve adjusted to being a professional. Some of the girls have had a small taste of it, but it’s been amazing to watch it.
“I’m pretty proud to be honest, to see them be able to adjust to this setting and become a professional.”
On the prospect of facing the Champions to kick off the season
“There’s a lot of individually brilliant players there, you’ve got Chids (Alex Chidiac), Zim (Catherine Zimmerman), KK (Elise Kellond-Knight), Kayla Morrison coming back.
“For us it’s focugin on us more so than the opposition. Identifying a couple of strengths and weaknesses they have, but we’ll worry about what we’re doing first and then we’ll see how the game goes, if we need to make some adjustments.
Words from the playing squad – Jessica McDonald
On being a leader amongst a young team
“Being a pro is nerve wracking, especially when you’re a young player playing your first game. With my leadership presence, I’m just hoping I can bring the best out of everyone.
“It’s actually a very fun role for me to play because of what I can bring to the table as a footballer, as a leader, and someone that my teammates can look up to.”