Eigth days, four teams, three games, but only one winner… the Westfield W-League is well and truly at the business end of the season.
With the dust barely settled on Sydney FC’s successful pursuit of the Premier’s Plate, now the Sky Blues have a target on their backs again as Canberra United, Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar vie with them to be crowned champions.
The latter two face off on Sunday while Sydney and Canberra meet the day after, with all roads for the two winners leading to the Grand Final. After a season that started late because of COVID-19, and has had to navigate myriad issues around border closures and lockdowns, it's Sydney FC who are the favourites to regain the crown they lost to Melbourne City last year.
Wednesday night’s win over Victory halted a mini-wobble for the Sky Blues and confirmed they would finish top, thanks in no small part to the seven goals from 23-year-old Westfield Matildas striker Remy Siemsen.
"We’ve put a bit of pressure on ourselves, being on top for most of the season, and that’s the same in the finals – we’ll focus on the job not being done yet, we’ve still got so much to improve on," Siemsen said.
"We’ll have all guns blazing on Monday – it would have been disappointing to fall short (of winning the Premier’s Plate), and we won’t take anything lightly now."
Victory could have taken out the Plate had they beaten Sydney on Wednesday, but defender Angie Beard said her side still held what could be a trump card for the finals series.
"We were on a seven-game undefeated run so credit to Sydney FC – but we still feel very confident," she said. "Having a player like [Westfield Matildas veteran] Lisa De Vanna who is inspirational, she’s second to none.
"She’s a performance player, she turns up for the big games, young players take her energy and pump themselves up for the game."
Brisbane have lost their own big names with captain Clare Polkinghorne and Golden Boot winner Emily Gielnik both heading overseas before the Finals Series – but defender Kim Carroll was adamant Roar can cope.
"It’s disappointing to lose two leaders like that. Unfortunately, they have to think a little bit bigger in their careers so, the move for them was to go overseas," she said.
"It will be a loss for our team but we've got some great young players and a good squad depth."
Canberra know their main hopes of an upset lie with striker Michelle Heyman, scorer of a remarkable 10 goals after taking a year out of the game.
"It’s been a privilege to play with Michelle – to see her come back after a year off, how much she loves the game and is enjoying herself, has been an honour as a teammate and a friend," Canberra midfielder Grace Maher said.