Golden dozen for Sykes

Canberra United captain Ashleigh Sykes celebrates one of her goals this season.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Staff Writer
A stunning run of form in the second half of the season has seen Canberra United captain Ash Sykes take out her first Westfield W-League Golden Boot.

Sykes scored 12 goals to become the second-highest scoring Golden Boot winner behind only teammate Michelle Heyman’s tally of 15 set five seasons ago, equalling Kyah Simon’s 12 goals in 2010/11.

The pacy Dubbo-raised forward scored an astonishing 11 goals in the past seven matches, to help Canberra win the Premiership with a league-high 33 goals.

Sykes went ahead of Sam Kerr in the final round, with the Perth Glory captain finishing with 10 goals.

Early pace-setter Natasha Dowie impressed with nine goals for bottom side Melbourne Victory, and the English striker was joined by the fast-finishing Adriana Jones on the final day of the season, with teammate Sofia Huerta a further goal adrift.

Sykes, capped 19 times by Australia, adds the accolade to a burgeoning resume which includes last year’s Julie Dolan Medal as best player in the Westfield W-League.

2016/17 Westfield W-League goalscorers
12 goals
Ashleigh Sykes (Canberra United)

10 goals
Sam Kerr (Perth Glory)

9 goals
Natasha Dowie (Melbourne Victory)
Adriana Jones (Adelaide United)

8 goals
Sofia Huerta (Adelaide United)

6 goals
Jess Fishlock (Melbourne City)
Tameka Butt (Brisbane Roar)
Rosie Sutton (Perth Glory)
Katie Stengel (Western Sydney Wanderers)
Remy Siemsen (Sydney FC)

5 goals
Jenna Kingsley (Newcastle Jets)
Jen Hoy (Newcastle Jets)
Racheal Quigley (Adelaide United)

4 goals
Nickoletta Flannery (Canberra United)
Vanessa DiBernardo (Perth Glory)
Katrina Gorry (Brisbane Roar)
Arin Gilliland (Newcastle Jets)
Kyah Simon (Sydney FC)

3 goals
Leena Khamis (Sydney FC)
Steph Ochs (Canberra United)
Marianna Tabain (Melbourne City)
Grace Maher (Canberra United)


Football Federation Australia

Canberra United´s Two-goal Ashleigh Sykes becomes big-match player

Ashleigh Sykes and Michelle Heyman of Canberra celebrate a goal during the Westfield W-League Grand Final.
Westfield W-League Grand Final player of the match Ashleigh Sykes says Canberra United executed their game-plan perfectly to pull off a surprise 3-1 win over in-form premiers Perth Glory.

For the second time in three weeks Sykes netted a winning goal to help her side overcome the Glory and their all-star line-up.

Sykes scored twice in three second-half minutes to become just the second player after team-mate Michelle Heyman to score a brace in a season decider.

“It’s awesome and amazing,” said Sykes of the win. “We got one (Grand Final win) a few years ago (in 2012) but this one is even more special I guess.

“There were times in the season when they (Perth) were flogging teams that we thought they were unbeatable. But the last game of the season when we beat them gave us some extra confidence, and also allowed us to formulate a game-plan to give us the best chance of doing that and it obviously paid off. But credit to them as they have been a fantastic side all year.

“Normally Katie would slot those but maybe nerves can play a part,” Sykes said of the Glory’s missed penalty. “But (goalkeeper) Chantel (Jones) did really well.”

Sykes says there was little between the teams on the day but that her United side made the most of their opportunities in an action-packed encounter.

“There is always a chance that Perth, with so much dangerous attacking potential, that they could hurt if given a chance,” she said. “We were trying to be cautious and working hard as a unit and tucking in defensively.

“Sometimes it is a case of who puts away their chances so maybe that was the main difference today.

“I think we went into the game that we could win it if we played to our strengths, and I think we executed our chances perfectly.”

Source : Football Federation Australia website

Canberra United wins W-League championship with 3-1 victory against Perth Glory in grand final

December 21, 2014 – 7:19PM

Lee Gaskin

Sports reporter at The Canberra Times

Canberra United celebrates its W-League championship after beating Perth Glory 3-1 in the grand final on Sunday.

Canberra United celebrates its W-League championship after beating Perth Glory 3-1 in the grand final on Sunday.

Grand final hero Ashleigh Sykes has labelled Canberra United’s second W-League championship the most satisfying after overcoming a mid-season slump to lift the title.

Sykes was an overwhelming choice as the best on the park, scoring two goals in the space of three minutes as Canberra came from the clouds to upset minor premiers Perth Glory 3-1 in Sunday’s gripping decider at nib Stadium.

Canberra were absolutely terrific, giving retiring US star Lori Lindsey the perfect send-off and 15-year-old sensation Grace Maher rising to the occasion after she was a shock choice to start the game.

Canberra's Grace Maher challenges Perth Glory's Alanna Kennedy.

Canberra’s Grace Maher challenges Perth Glory’s Alanna Kennedy.

It capped off a roller-coaster season for the girls in green, who faced the pressure of needing at least a point in their final regular season game against the Glory just to make the top four.

After clawing out a 2-1 win to finish third on the table, United needed 120 minutes and a penalty shoot-out to get past Melbourne Victory last weekend to qualify for their third grand final and first since winning the title in 2011-12.

But unlike that success when United went undefeated and was completely dominant throughout, this time the side have had to battle back through adversity.

“Two years ago we had an awesome season all up, but this season’s been a bit up and down, which makes it more satisfying when you come out the other end,” Sykes said.

“It’s really a testament to the coaches and the squad and all our support staff that we could come through some interesting times in the middle of the year to win the title.

“To score two goals in a final is amazing, it’s just an awesome feeling to win the title.”

Canberra led 1-0 at half-time before a stunning free kick from Collette McCallum from just outside the penalty area brought the Glory back on level terms.

The visitors responded in splendid fashion, Lindsey delivering a lovely ball over the top for Sykes, who had just enough on her strike for the ball to trickle over the line.

After Glory striker Kate Gill had her penalty saved by goalkeeper Chantel Jones, Sykes then sunk the decisive blow three minutes later, heading the ball into the net after Michelle Heyman contested a dangerous cross from Stephanie Ochs.

“Lori’s so good at popping those balls in behind, she’s an awesome playmaker,” Sykes said.

“I’ve been able to benefit from playing off Steph and Michelle.

“It’s really great to have a striking group where everyone contributes, where it’s assists or scoring themselves.”

Canberra’s player of the year, Sykes should have her name read out when the Matildas announce their squad for a training camp on Monday in preparation for next year’s World Cup.

“I’m looking forward to hearing who’s in the squad tomorrow,” Sykes said.

“Hopefully my name’s on the list, being the player of the match doesn’t do you any harm in trying to get in there.”

Maher was a surprise choice to start in the place of American Kendall Fletcher, but the under-16 Australian representative showed plenty of poise in setting up Ochs for the game’s opening goal.

Ochs produced a stunning left-foot strike into the bottom corner of the net in the 20th minute.

United were stiff not to receive a penalty after Sykes was brought down in the box midway through the first half.

The Glory were the standout team of the regular season, claiming the minor premiership with a 10-point buffer and losing just two games. It was without Matildas star Sam Kerr, who suffered a knee injury in the 2-1 loss to Canberra in round 12.

W-League grand final: Canberra United 3 (Stephanie Ochs 20′, Ashleigh Sykes 75′ 78′) bt Perth Glory 1 (Collette McCallum 63′) at nib Stadium in Perth on Sunday.


Source : The Canberra Times

Canberra United stun Perth Glory to claim Westfield W-League title

Canberra United are the Westfield W-League Champions after beating Perth Glory 3-1 in the Grand Final.
Two late goals from Ashleigh Sykes saw Canberra United win the 2015 Westfield W-League 3-1 over Perth Glory at nib Stadium.

Sykes’ two goals came within three minutes of one another, either side of a missed penalty from Glory striker Kate Gill.

With the scores locked at 1-1 for the majority of the second half, Sykes slotted past Glory keeper Mackenzie Arnold, the ball trickling into the net faster than Shelina Zadorksy could get back to keep it out.

Glory fluffed their chance to find the equaliser after Marianna Tabain was taken down in the box.

Kate Gill stepped up, but fired a tame penalty at Canberra keeper Chantel Jones.

Sykes sealed the game for Canberra as Arnold came for a cross, but was beaten to it by Michelle Heyman, allowing Sykes to head into an empty net.

Canberra took the lead on 21 minutes as Stephanie Ochs stepped inside and curled a brilliantly placed shot off the post and into the bottom corner of the net.

Glory had the first big chance of the game as Collette McCallum knocked a great ball over the top for Caitlin Foord whose shot was brilliantly saved by Jones.

Glory found their equaliser early in the second half through a wonder free kick from Glory captain McCallum, which flew into the top corner.

Canberra dominated the first half and were deserving of their half-time lead, which could have been even more if not for good defending from Zadorksy.

Glory started the second half stronger and looked capable of going on to win it after their equalizer until Sykes seized the initiative.

After twice finding the net, Sykes was brought down in the box by Zadorsky to give Canberra another opportunity. But substitute Grace Gill’s spot-kick was saved by Arnold in the last play of the game.

Perth Glory 1 (Collette McCallum 63’)

Canberra United 3 (Stephanie Ochs 20’, Ashleigh Sykes 75’, 78’)

Sunday 21 December 2014

nib Stadium, Perth

Local kick-off: 12pm

Attendance: 2,671

Referee: Kate Jacewicz

Perth Glory: Mackenzie Arnold (gk), Sarah Carroll (Carys Hawkins 62’), Bronwyn Studman, Shannon May, Alanna Kennedy, Caitlin Foord, Kate Gill, Elisa D’Ovidio (Gabrielle Marzano 73’), Collette McCallum, Shelina Zadorsky, Marianna Tabain

Substitutes – Gabrielle Dal Busco (gk), Shawn Billam, Thia Eastman

Cautions – Sarah Carroll 49’, Caitlin Foord 64’, Shelina Zadorsky 93’

Canberra United: Chantel Jones (gk), Catherine Brown, Caitlin Munoz, Ellie Brush, Grace Maher (Julia De Angelis 53’), Michelle Heyman, Sally Rojahn, Nicole Begg, Ashleigh Sykes, Lori Lindsey (Grace Gill 91’), Stephanie Ochs

Substitutes – Melissa Maizels (gk), Grace Field, Tegan Riding

Cautions – Catherine Brown 62’, Caitlin Munoz 86’

Source : Football Federation Australia website

Westfield W-League 2014/2015 Grand Final Preview

Canberra United's Ash Sykes fights for the ball with Perth Glory's Shannon May.

Canberra United’s Ash Sykes fights for the ball with Perth Glory’s Shannon May.

What a finale to the Westfield W-League season it promises to be as runaway leaders Perth Glory seek to overcome the sizeable hurdle that is Canberra United as they hunt their maiden title.

Westfield W-League Grand Final

Perth Glory v Canberra United

Sunday 21 December 2014

nib Stadium, Perth

Local kick-off: 12 midday (3pm AEDT)

Referee: Kate Jacewicz

Join the conversation on Twitter using match hashtag #PERvCBR

* Catch all the action Live at 3.00pm nationally (midday WA time) on ABC TV. Or from Monday on ABC iView with a full replay at 3.30am on Tuesday.

Statistically Perth has far and away been the best team in the Westfield W-League this term. They have set new competition benchmarks for points earned and goals scored, thanks to countless sparkling displays of attacking football.

But of course a game of football is not won on paper. A Grand Final, with all its distractions, even less so.

And Canberra United are perhaps better equipped than any team in the league to knock over the Glory, having done so just a fortnight ago in the final round of the season.

Canberra too are arguably the most experienced side in the finals series. Five players – Catlin Munoz, Ellie Brush, Grace Gill, Ashleigh Sykes and Nicole Begg (nee Sykes) – have featured in Canberra’s two previous deciders, losing in 2008 and winning in 2012. Munoz is even a survivor of Canberra Eclipse’s WNSL win in 2002, with the evergreen attacking midfielder netting the winner in that year’s decider.

On the debit side for United is the loss of American Kendall Fletcher whose loan spell with the club has come to an untimely conclusion. Canberra will be desperate to send Fletcher’s midfielder compatriot Lori Lindsey out on a high with the USA national team veteran hanging up the boots after a distinguished career.

Canberra also boast a remarkable historical record against the Glory. They have lost just once in 12 previous outings against Perth, and that solitary defeat didn’t come until earlier this season.

The Glory secured a 3-0 win in October on home soil, but that was a deceptive scoreline in what was a close match everywhere bar the scoreboard.

Two weeks ago Canberra saw off an understrength Glory to reach the semis in what was a tough and hard-fought match. Expect the intensity of Sunday’s match to go up a level again.

The Glory of course will again be without the talismanic qualities of injured forward Sam Kerr, but they didn’t put a foot out of place last week in routing Sydney FC with three unanswered goals.

Perth, in front of what is expected to be a large celebratory home crowd, will be saying farewell to one of their own long-established servants as under-rated forward Elisa D’Ovidio calls time on her career.

A major sub-plot of the Grand Final will be the shoot-out at either end of the park as the league’s two greatest goalscorers – Perth’s Kate Gill and Canberra’s Michelle Heyman go head to head.

Perth Glory squad : 1. Mackenzie Arnold (gk), 2. Sarah Carroll, 3. Carys Hawkins, 4. Bronwyn Studman, 5. Shannon May, 6. Alanna Kennedy, 7. Gabrielle Marzano, 8. Shawn Billam, 9. Caitlin Foord, 12. Kate Gill, 13. Elisa D’Ovidio, 14. Collette McCallum, 15. Shelina Zadorsky, 16. Thia Eastman, 17. Marianna Tabain, 18. Gabrielle Dal Busco (gk)

Ins : None

Outs : None

Unavailable : Sam Kerr (knee – season)

Canberra United squad : 1. Chantel Jones, 2. Catherine Brown, 3. Julia De Angelis, 5. Grace Field, 6. Caitlin Munoz, 7. Ellie Brush, 9. Grace Gill, 10. Grace Maher, 11. Michelle Heyman, 12. Sally Rojahn, 13. Nicole Begg, 14. Ashleigh Sykes, 15. Tegan Riding, 16. Lori Lindsey, 20. Melissa Maizels (gk), 22. Stephanie Ochs

Ins : Grace Maher (promoted)

Outs : Kendall Fletcher (end of contract)

Unavailable : Meg McLaughlin (knee – season)


Previous 2014/15 matches

Round 5 – Perth Glory 3 (Shelina Zadorsky 14’, Kate Gill 60’ pen, 81’) Canberra United 0

(11 October, Ashfield Sports Club, Perth)

Round 12 – Canberra United 2 (Michelle Heyman 69’, Ashleigh Sykes 85’) Perth Glory 1 (Sam Kerr 54’)
(7 December, Viking Park, Canberra)

Historical record between the pair

Matches: 12

Perth Glory wins 1, draws 3, Canberra United wins 8

Perth Glory record win 3-0 (11 October 2014)

Canberra United record win 5-1 (26 January 2014)

Source : Football Federation Australia website

Canberra United striker Ashleigh Sykes aiming to cap off special week with Westfield W-League championship

December 18, 2014

Lee Gaskin

Sports reporter at The Canberra Times

Canberra United striker Ashleigh Sykes.

Canberra United striker Ashleigh Sykes. Photo: Melissa Adams

Two achievements can top off Ashleigh Sykes’ brilliant season: lifting the W-League championship for a second time and gaining selection in the Matildas’ World Cup training camp.

Seven years after playing in her first grand final as a fresh-faced 17-year-old, the Canberra United striker will be one of the keys in Sunday’s decider against minor premier Perth Glory at NIB Stadium.

Sykes was rewarded for her outstanding season when she won Canberra’s player of the year award at the club’s presentation function this week.

It was a double celebration after she, and twin sister and United captain Nicole Begg, turned 23 on Monday.

Sykes has been a revelation in the past two seasons under United coach Elisabeth Migchelsen and has rocketed into calculations for the Matildas for next year’s women’s World Cup.

Matildas coach Alen Stajcic will name his first squad for a training camp on Monday, with Sykes among the contenders.

Sykes was the seventh different winner of Canberra’s player’s player award.

“It was a huge honour and a little bit unexpected,” Sykes said.

“We’ve had a few good players this year, so I’m really stoked to get the award.

“The last few weeks have been all good games for me.

“The main thing is finding consistency in my performances, which I’m really pleased about.”

Sykes caused the Melbourne Victory defence plenty of headaches in last weekend’s semi-final, which was decided in a penalty shootout after neither side could find the net in regulation or extra-time.

She is one of several survivors in the Canberra squad from the inaugural season of the W-League, when it made the grand final before losing 2-0 to Brisbane Roar.

“Most of it went over my head when I was 17,” Sykes said.

“A bit of experience helps and I’m just approaching it like any other game.

“The last few games in the season we had to win anyway, so we’re taking the same mindset into this weekend.”

Sykes was also a part of Canberra’s championship-winning team in 2011-12 when it gained revenge on the Roar in the decider.

As was Begg, who was been a constant presence at left-back while her twin roams the right-hand flank in attack.

Canberra defeated the Roar 3-2 in the 2011-12 grand final before a packed house at McKellar Park.

“It seemed like it came down to a few key moments,” Begg said.

“The game was pretty well matched through the whole thing and taking some opportunities seemed to be the difference.

“I think that will be the same this weekend.

“It’s one apiece between us and Perth, so I think it will come down to a pretty tight contest with a few key moments.”

Canberra’s 16-player squad will fly out for Perth on Friday afternoon.

There is expected to only be one change to the starting line-up that beat Melbourne Victory last week.

Youngster Julia De Angelis or Grace Gill are expected to replace American Kendall Fletcher in the midfield.

Fletcher has finished her seven-game guest stint.

SUNDAY: W-League grand final: Perth Glory v Canberra United at NIB Stadium at 3pm (ADST). TV: Live on ABC 1.


Source : The Canberra Times

Lori Lindsey aims for farewell fairytale

Lori Lindsey of Canberra United and Shannon May of Perth Glory fight for the ball.

Lori Lindsey of Canberra United and Shannon May of Perth Glory fight for the ball.

After 15 successful years in the game Canberra United’s American midfielder Lori Lindsey is looking to sign off by writing one final glorious chapter in her career with Grand Final success in Sunday’s Westfield W-League season finale.

One of the most decorated players ever to grace the local competition, Lindsey is finally hanging up the boots concluding a career that included appearing in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup alongside some of the greats of the modern era as USA narrowly missed being crowned world champions.

Lindsey will be a central figure in the heart of the Canberra midfield as the 2012 champs seek to deny Perth a maiden crown in what promises to be a spectacular conclusion to a high-quality Westfield W-League season.

Now 34, the Indianapolis native, who alongside Nadine Angerer and Arianne Hingst is one of the best credentialed players ever to feature in the Westfield W-League, says it is time to look for new adventures in life.

“It (retirement) has been coming for a while,” says Lindsey. “I’m fortunate that I can retire on my own terms.

“I have always loved football, and always will, but over the past year my attention has started to sway away from the game, so I always told myself when that happened, that I would know in my heart (it was time).

“I have been very fortunate that I have been to live out a few of my dreams through football.”

Lindsey says she is planning a career in strength and conditioning “helping young females grow their athleticism at a younger age”.

Lindsey, an all-action reliable presence in the midfield, nominates the 2011 Women’s World Cup as a career highlight calling it “arguably the greatest women’s sporting event ever held”.

Lindsey’s impressive resume includes being one of the few players to have featured in all three professional leagues in the US dating back to her WUSA debut in 2002.

Now in her second season with Canberra, Lindsey says her Australia odyssey has attained a special place in her heart.

“My time has been wonderful,” she says. “I love being in Australia, everyone has been so welcoming. And Canberra is such a great sport city.

“I feel like Canberra gets a bad rap across the rest of Australia, but it is a gem of a city.”

There is, of course, one final hurdle to conquer before Lindsey hangs up the boost for good. And it is a significant one with Perth defeated just twice this season, albeit one of those occasions was against United just a fortnight ago.

“I’m excited for the team and want to concentrate on getting the win, but I want to enjoy the game as well,” Lindsey says.

“I think we match-up well (against Perth). There will be a lot of nerves and excitement. It will be important for us to finish our chances. We have been creating quite a few. Concentrate on that, and the rest should take of itself.

“Hopefully Sunday will be a career highlight as well. And hopefully I will be on the right side of the fairytale as well.”

Source : Football Federation Australia website

Grand final sacrifice pays off for Canberra United youngster Julia De Angelis

December 16, 2014 – 8:00PM

Jon Tuxworth

Sports reporter at The Canberra Times

Young gun Julia De Angelis was presented with the rising star award as the best under-20 player of the season.Young gun Julia De Angelis was presented with the rising star award as the best under-20 player of the season.Photo: Matt Bedford


Sacrificing a shot at local grand final glory to chase her W-League dream is the best career move Canberra United youngster Julia De Angelis has made.

And the 17-year-old is hopeful of cashing in further by helping United to a second title in four years in Saturday’s decider against Perth Glory.

The midfielder and fellow teenager Grace Maher were given the option of playing for ACT Academy of Sport in September’s premier league grand final against Belconnen United, but playing in United’s season opener instead was always a no-brainer.

Canberra United’s clas against Western Sydney was on the same day, and De Angelis made her debut off the bench in the 4-1 win.

She was rewarded for a stellar rookie season by claiming United’s Rising Star award at its presentation night on Tuesday, where skipper Ashleigh Sykes was judged player of the year.

While it is unclear whether she will start in the grand final, the Narrabundah College student is still pinching herself at her rise from obscurity to the big stage.

“Obviously playing for ACTAS the whole year and missing out on the final was disappointing at first, but what came from it was a great opportunity and I’m glad I did,” De Angelis said.

“To be honest it was an easy decision, I’ve always wanted to play for Canberra United.

“They [United] had a meeting with us and they were going to give us time if we wanted to think about it, but my decision was pretty clear.

“I honestly thought I’d just get maybe five or 10 minutes [of playing time] here or there, but being in the starting team a few times has been crazy.

“From playing in the local premier league to where I am now is pretty unbelievable, it doesn’t really feel real.”

De Angelis proved her ability to stand up under pressure when called on to deputise for injured mainstay Ellie Brush in United’s vital 2-1 final round win over Glory.

With Canberra requiring at least a draw to make the finals, the holding midfielder stood tall after coming on early in the second half with scores locked at 1-all.

“Going on in such an important game was hard to do, but I feel like I kept pretty calm in that situation,” De Angelis said.

“I try not to have too many preconceived ideas, and the class of the players I’m up against, I just do my job.”

De Angelis hopes the rapid rise she and Maher have enjoyed will inspire other local products to follow suit.

“I think it’s important for young players to realise it’s not unattainable to reach,” she said.

“Grace and I both worked really hard through ACTAS and it shows it can be done.”


Player of the Year: Ashleigh Sykes

Players’ Player of the Year: Caitlin Munoz

Rising Star Award: Julia De Angelis

Supporters’ Player of the Year: Lori Lindsey


W-League grand final: Perth Glory v Canberra United at nib Stadium, 3pm (Canberra time)

TV Time: Live on ABC1


Source : The Brisbane Times

Perth Glory to host Westfield W-League Grand Final

Perth Glory will entertain Canberra United in next weekend's Westfield W-League Grand Final.

Perth Glory will entertain Canberra United in next weekend’s Westfield W-League Grand Final.

Perth Glory have won through to their maiden Westfield W-League Grand Final with a confident 3-0 victory over Sydney FC in Perth.

First-half goals from Elisa D’Ovidio and Kate Gill, and a further strike from substitute Gabrielle Marzano, proved more than enough for the home side to ease to victory and secure hosting rights for next Sunday’s decider.

The Glory will now take on 2012 champions Canberra United after the team from the nation’s capital defeated Melbourne Victory 5-4 on penalties following a scoreless draw on Saturday.

Grand Final tickets will go on sale on tomorrow, Monday 15 December (details below)

Westfield W-League 2014/15 Grand Final match details

Sunday 21 December 2014

Perth Glory v Canberra United

nib Stadium, Perth

Kick off 12:00pm local, (3pm AEDT)
(Gates open 11am)

* Catch all the action Live at 3.00pm nationally (midday WA time) on ABC TV.

Ticketing details

$19.95 Adult

$10 Concession/Child (4-16)

$40 Family

Credit card and transaction fees apply.

Special ticket offer for Perth Glory and Canberra United Members

$15 Adult

$5 Concession/Child (4-16)

$30 Family

Tickets on sale Monday 15 December at midday (AWST). Members will receive communication on how to access members only tickets.

On Sale –

Tickets on sale – Monday 15 December Midday (AWST) , 136 100 and all Ticketmaster outlets

Source : Football Federation Australia website

Canberra United prevail on penalties against Melbourne Victory

Canberra United players celebrate their Westfield W-League semi-final win.

Canberra United players celebrate their Westfield W-League semi-final win.

Canberra United has booked its place in the Westfield W-League Grand Final, defeating Melbourne Victory 5-4 in a dramatic penalty shootout at Simonds Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Former Victory player Kendall Fletcher converted the winning penalty after a scoreless 120 minutes, ensuring a grand final showdown against the winner of Perth Glory-Sydney, which will take place on Sunday.

Canberra ‘keeper Chantel Jones stood tall to save Gulcan Koca’s penalty, allowing Fletcher to step up for the winning penalty.

It was the visitors who dominated the majority of the game, striking the woodwork twice and coming agonisingly close to opening the scoring within the opening five minutes.

Breaching Victory’s back four, Michelle Heyman’s squared delivery travelled centimeters wide of Ashleigh Sykes’ outstretched boot at the back post.

Heyman then came close to breaking the deadlock 10 minutes later, looping her header over Bri Davey’s crossbar.

Sykes and Heyman then combined once again in the best opportunity of the first half, with the former striking the woodwork following a sensational run through midfield.

Melbourne had an opportunity to break the deadlock against the run of play via Lisa De Vanna.

Christine Nairn played De Vanna through on goal, but was foiled by Jones who was fast off her line to deny the forward a shot on goal.

Following the break, Heyman squandered another great opportunity, nodding her effort from point-blank range over the bar, while moments later Victory captain Steph Catley diverted her unmarked header over the woodwork.

Davey came to her side’s rescue on ample occasions throughout the second interval, which included a sensational double save to deny Sykes and Lori Lindsey with only eight minutes to spare.

The woodwork proved to be Melbourne’s saving grace once again in the dying minutes of regulation time, as Heyman directed Sykes’ driving cross onto the base of the upright.

The Matilda then butchered a sublime opportunity to win the game for her side with the last kick of regulation time,  with her tame strike falling comfortably into Davey’s clutches in a one-on-one opportunity.

Davey continued her excellent form between the posts, nullifying Canberra’s advances on a number of moments throughout extra time, while Lauren Barnes provided a sensational last-ditch tackle to prevent Heyman through with a one-on-one with Davey.

A clash with Heyman in the final minute of extra time left Davey nursing what appeared a serious wrist injury, with play stopped for two minutes as she received treatment.

Sore but not broken, Davey took her position between the posts in Victory’s second semi-final penalty shootout in three years, but this one would end in stark contrast to that of the 2012/2013 semi-final against Perth Glory.

Canberra converted all of its penalties – Fletcher slotted the winner immediately after Gulcan Koca’s saved attempt – to spark wild celebrations among the visitors and prevent Victory advancing to a third successive grand final.

FULL TIME: Melbourne Victory 0 defeated by Canberra United 0 (Canberra United wins 5-4 on penalties) at Simonds Stadium [HT: 0-0]

Melbourne Victory 1st penalty: Lauren Barnes – GOAL
Melbourne Victory 2nd penalty: Steph Catley – GOAL
Melbourne Victory 3rd penalty: Elli Reed – GOAL
Melbourne Victory 4th penalty: Christine Nairn – GOAL
Melbourne Victory 5th penalty: Gulcan Koca – SAVED

Canberra United 1st penalty: Grace Gill – GOAL
Canberra United 2nd penalty: Lori Lindsey – GOAL
Canberra United 3rd penalty: Stephanie Ochs – GOAL
Canberra United 4th penalty: Caitlin Munoz – GOAL
Canberra United 5th penalty: Kendall Fletcher – GOAL

Melbourne Victory: 1. Brianna DAVEY (GK), 2. Hannah BREWER, 5. Lauren BARNES, 7. Stephanie CATLEY (C), 8. Amy JACKSON, 9. Racheal QUIGLEY (17. Gulcan KOCA 111’), 10. Christine NAIRN, 11. Lisa DE VANNA, 12. Ella MASTRANTONIO, 16. Beatrice GOAD (15. Emma CHECKER 91’), 18. Elli REED.

Unused substitutes: 20. Cassandra DIMOVSKI, 4. Alexandra NATOLI, 14. Tiffany ELIADIS.

Yellow cards: None

Red cards: None

Canberra United: 1. Chantel JONES (GK), 2. Catherine BROWN, 4. Kendall FLETCHER, 6. Caitlin MUNOZ, 7. Ellie BRUSH, 11. Michelle HEYMAN, 12. Sally ROJAHN, 13. Nicole BEGG (C), 14. Ashleigh SYKES (9. Grace GILL, 120’), 16. Lori LINDSEY, 22. Stephanie OCHS.

Unused substitutes: 20. Melissa MAIZLES (GK), 3. Julia DE ANGELIS, 5. Grace FIELD, 15. Tegan RIDING.

Yellow cards: Heyman 58′, Rojahn 61′, Brown 81′, Lindsey 110′

Red cards: None

Source : Football Federation Australia website