Every great team needs a provider and Rachel Hill and Savannah McCaskill have assumed this role for their teams exceptionally.
The Perth Glory and Sydney FC counterparts ooze quality on the ball, while their runs off it have played a large part in their sides’ run to the Westfield W-League 2019 Grand Final.
If there’s one thing we love about the Westfield W-League, it’s the international-standard players the competition boasts year after year.
And beyond our national Westfield Matildas heroes lies another crop of players who bring in star quality and add spice to the competition.
Hill and McCaskill are just two such players who ply their trade in the Westfield W-League and lace up their boots in either the United States’ college system or National Women’s Soccer League.
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Hit the ground running American-style
McCaskill was a late inclusion to Sydney FC’s Westfield W-League squad, but she showed her class from the get-go, assisting the season’s opening goal when she played a crafty reverse pass to Caitlin Foord.
That was a sign of things to come, as McCaskill added football intelligence to Sydney’s fluid, pacy forward line and played as the intermediary between the midfield and attack.
A great start for the 23-year-old, but her compatriot was about to out-do her.
This season wasn’t Hill’s first in Australia and she highlighted her expertise by grabbing a brace and assist in Glory’s 3-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 3.
Hill would grab a goal and assist eight days later as Perth dismantled Melbourne City 5-2 at HBF Park, before making it three assists in as many weeks during Perth’s 2-2 draw with Adelaide United.
Consolidation and class
By the halfway point of the campaign, it was abundantly clear that Sydney FC and Perth Glory had signed some serious quality.
Hill would grab assists against Sydney FC, Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers during the regular season, before picking out Sam Kerr — and finding the back of the net herself — in Perth’s sensational 4-2 Semi-Final win over Melbourne Victory.
As things stand, Hill has bagged six goals and seven assists in a remarkable campaign.
McCaskill couldn’t mirror Hill’s sensational stats, though she chipped in with some contributions of her own.
In December, the 23-year-old grabbed an assist against Brisbane Roar before finding the back of the net in Sydney’s 5-2 win over Adelaide.
A brace against the Newcastle Jets helped Sydney to a 3-1 win midway through their campaign, which coincided with McCaskill becoming a focal point to Ante Juric’s side.
While we cannot predict Saturday afternoon’s result, it seems the game may just be won by whichever maestro is on-song.
The rest of the best
Though they have stood head and shoulders above the pack, Hill and McCaskill have not been the only US players to grace the Westfield W-League 2018/19 Season.
Alyssa Mautz has scored four goals this campaign for Perth and assisted three others in Glory’s run to the final.
Veronica Latsko pushed Sam Kerr right to the end of the Golden Boot race but was unable to overcome the Westfield Matildas star.
Off the back of her debut season in the NWSL, Latsko bagged nine goals and two assists during her maiden Westfield W-League campaign, announcing herself as a genuine threat to defenders.
Katie Stengel couldn’t replicate her heroics from the 2017/18 Season, but she still chipped in with three goals and two assists for the Jets.
Stengel was outdone by her teammate Britt Eckerstrom who recorded a league-high 61 saves in 12 appearances — 10 more saves than her nearest competitor.
Samantha Johnson played almost every minute of Melbourne Victory’s campaign before succumbing to a second yellow card in the Semi-Final against Perth Glory. She was solid as ever at the back and made herself one of the most reliable defenders in the league.
Melbourne City’s Jasmyne Spencer started the season ever so brightly, burying Sydney FC single-handedly with a hat-trick in Round 2 at AAMI Park. Spencer would go on to score only one more goal for City as the club's Premiership defence fizzled out.