Sydney FC defeated Perth Glory 4-2 at Jubilee Oval on Saturday afternoon to claim a record-equalling 3rd W-League Championship – their first since 2013.
In doing so, Ante Juric’s side have reversed their recent Grand Final hoodoo, having twice lost the title decider to Melbourne City in the last 3 years.
Upstaging the human headline Sam Kerr, Savannah McCaskill was the star of the show, scoring twice, assisting once, and playing a key role in the fourth goal.
McCaskill had a golden opportunity inside the first two minutes when she arrived on the end of Princess Ibini’s low cross, but somehow volleyed against the crossbar with the goal at her mercy.
The record 6127-strong home crowd inside Kogarah did not have to wait long for the Sky Blues’ breakthrough, with McCaskill laying the ball off to her rapidy advancing countrywoman Sofia Huerta, who took one touch before launching a rasping drive into the top right corner.
While the play was all with Sydney, it only takes a momentary lapse to let in Sam Kerr. Sydney found this out the hard way, failing to properly clear a cross. Kerr was quickest to the loose ball, touching it past her Chicago Red Stars teammate Danielle Colaprico, who missed the ball and kicked Kerr in the shins. Referee Kate Jacewicz duly pointed to the penalty spot.
Kerr dusted herself off and beat Aubrey Bledsoe from 12 yards – the American goalkeeper guessing the right way but unable to keep Kerr’s powerful low shot out of the net.
Sydney were undeterred and continued to create chances, and McCaskill eventually had them ahead before halftime. Colaprico intercepted a pass in midfield and set Caitlin Foord away on the right, who sent in a peach of an early cross towards McCaskill. The South Carolinian – whose parents had flown 19 hours to watch her play – spotted the advancing Eliza Campbell off her line and craftily looped her header over the keeper and into the empty net.
It was a marvelous piece of play, showcasing McCaskill’s unique combination of skill and vision that has made her such a welcome addition to the W-League this season.
She was not done yet, however, and extended her side’s lead on the hour mark. A half-cleared corner kick was sent back into the danger area by Huerta, and Alyssa Mautz could only slice the ball up into the air. McCaskill used her body well to shield the ball and turn her marker, finishing low across Campbell to put Sydney up 3-1.
Kerr worked tirelessly to try and get her side back into the contest, but was well-marshalled all game by the diligent defensive pairing of Alanna Kennedy and Elizabeth Ralston. Her usual partner-in-crime Rachel Hill was unusually quiet, and Perth failed to create clear chances for their star strike force.
Instead it was Mautz who redeemed herself for her earlier error and brought the Glory back into the contest in the 68th minute. Mautz met a low, bouncing corner kick from Nikki Stanton and flicked the ball with her instep into the roof of the net – a perfectly-executed training ground manoeuver, and another sublime finish to add to the game’s already stacked highlight reel.
It was Matildas midfielder Chloe Logarzo, however, who saved the very best for last. Just two minutes after Mautz’s goal, McCaskill sent a deep cross into the area, which Perth could only clear as far as Logarzo. She adjusted her body superbly and curled a postage-stamp strike into the top corner to seal the game, and the Championship, for Sydney FC.