‘It’s do or die’ is the message from Western Sydney Wanderers coach Dean Heffernan as his side face Perth Glory on Saturday knowing a win will take them to the promised land.
In their seven previous Westfield W-League seasons, Western Sydney had never made it to a Finals Series but the Red and Black have already set records across a breakout 2019/20 campaign.
The Wanderers’ 19 points in this year’s competition is already their best ever return since their debut season (17) in 2012/13 and more than their totals in the past two years combined (15).
Heffernan’s side have already guaranteed their best ever finish, topping the sixth-place effort in 2012/13, and have their highest goals tally of 21, better than 19 in the inaugural year.
But all of those records would be tinged with regret were last year’s wooden spooners not able to get over the line and reach the uncharted territory of the Finals Series, which only a win in Bunbury, Western Australia will confirm.
“Basically the message has been that our finals have started,” Heffernan said.
“It’s do or die for us over the next three games if we want to win a trophy this year.
“We’re ready. The girls are so driven and focused. You can see in their eyes – every training session we’ve had this week – they know what it’s for, what it’s about and what’s at stake.”
Fourth-placed Wanderers welcome back American goalkeeper Abby Smith, United States international striker Kristen Hamilton and influential midfielder Ella Mastrantonio.
Western Sydney’s red-hot early season form has dipped in the absence of some key players and the timing of the trio's return could not be better, according to Heffernan.
“They are good players for us, they’ve had good seasons,” Heffernan said.
“It’s a big game for them to come into and those three are definitely big-game players.
“Really keen to get over to Perth and get those three back on the pitch for us.
“They have made a massive contribution to everything we’ve done at the club this year.
“It’s good to have them back and you can see it gives the other girls confidence as well.”
“It’s a matter of us winning one game of football now to achieve something that’s never been achieved by this club.”
Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday, 29 February 2020
Kick off: 10.15pm AEDT
Venue: WML Stadium, Bunbury, WA