Maiden goal a new high as Evans blazes trail for Indigenous footballers
A deadly finish, and the cherry on top of the perfect start to Sydney FC's title defence. But Shadeene Evans' stoppage time header meant so much more than that.
Evans, the 18-year-old from the Yanyula tribe in Borroloola, an isolated community on the McArthur River in the Northern Territory, has not only emerged as one of the Westfield W-League's most precocious talents, but as one of the footballing stories of 2019.
The teenager's potential was first identified at the age of 13 by former Westfield Matildas' coach and current Central Coast Mariners boss Alen Stajcic during a 2013 visit to John Moriarty's Football Foundation, the Indigenous footballing training centre.
In August 2015, Evans made the life-changing 3,000km move from her traditional land, where she grew up playing football barefoot with her brother, to Sydney and attended Westfield Sports High School.
"I miss family, going out bush and hunting and camping," Evans told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2015.
"It's bush, scrub and rivers, and we sleep outside with tents and a fire. It's really small, a really remote community, and there's not many people. But there's a lot of soccer."
Evans became the first graduate of John Moriarty Football to link up with a professional club when signing for Sydney in January this year.
She wiped away tears on her professional debut against Western Sydney Wanderers as Moriarty, the first recognised Indigenous Australian to be selected for the national team, watched on at Leichhardt Oval.
Last month, Evans became the third Indigenous footballer in history to be named part of the captaincy group for the Young Matildas, following the footsteps of goalkeeper Lydia Williams, and Kyah Simon, who the teenager idolises.
And on Sunday, the forward scored her first goal in professional football, in just her second appearance.
"I could not be more proud for Shay this season," said Remy Siemsen, Sydney's two-goal hero in their 3-0 win over Melbourne Victory.
"She works incredibly hard around the club so well in Shay, we're very proud of you."
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Playing with Foord is quite surreal, Siemsen says
It should really come as no surprise that Siemsen's budding partnership with Westfield Matildas star Caitlin Foord at Sydney put Victory to the sword on Sunday.
After all, it is a combination Siemsen has been dreaming about for the best part of a decade.
The 20-year-old twice profited from Foord assists to fire a quickfire first half brace and ensure Sydney's title defence got off to the perfect start.
"She is been someone I've looked up to since I was 10 years old so to play with someone like that is quite surreal for me," Siemens said.
"I think we have this connection up top which I'm really enjoying. We clicked last week at training and she's a pretty amazing player."
Canberra and Wanderers issue statements
After finishing eighth and ninth respectively last season, Canberra United and Western Sydney Wanderers simply needed Round 1 wins to begin the new campaign on the right note.
2-0 and 2-1 victories over Perth Glory and Adelaide United will give the two clubs a massive boost of confidence.
American import Simone Charley marked her debut with a five-minute double for Canberra in a match that saw compatriot Katie Stengel and Brazilian maestro Camila impress, while Young Matildas teen Kyra Cooney-Cross was the 92nd minute match winner for the Wanderers in last Thursday's curtain-raiser.
Canberra have since confirmed that Karly Roestbakken suffered a broken nose during United's win.
The teenager will be monitored during the week.
Jets win cancels out the inevitable from van Egmond
It took Emily van Egmond just 22 minutes to score against former club Newcastle Jets on Sunday but it was the Hunter Valley club who emerged from that 1-1 draw elated after securing their first ever point against the three-time Champions of Australia.
Teigan Collister's 67th minute equaliser came as deserved reward for a gutsy performance from Craig Dean's side, who executed their counter-attacking game plan well and defended stoutly against a City sided which dominated the possession count 75%-25%.