Melbourne Victory’s men’s team has been to the promised land and won it all. And so far, all signs are pointing to another Finals Series appearance for the face of Victorian club football in Australia.
But as for the women’s side, it’s been nothing but humble mediocrity, In spite of an improved season from years past combined with a modestly successful transition of managers, the Melbourne Victory Women have a far longer way to go before they can finally catch up with their male counterparts in terms of relevance in Australian soccer.
The season began ominously for the Victory Women, dropping a 2-0 defeat to Perth Glory followed by a 1-0 shutout loss to Brisbane Roar. Things started to turn around in Round 3, when a goal from Rebekah Stott in the second minute of first half injury time gave Melbourne a 1-0 shutout win over Newcastle Jets.
The Victory Women built on that result in Round 4 with a 2-1 decision over Sydney FC thanks to goals from Stephanie Catley in the eighth minute and Laura Spiranovic in the 77th minute of play. In Round 5, the Lady V’s were on their game once again, shutting out Canberra 3-0 through goals from Jessica Fishlock in the 28th minute, Jessica McDonald in the 45th minute and Enza Barilla in the 80th minute of play.
After winning three on the trot, Melbourne were swept by Brisbane in a 3-2 goal festival in Round 6. Laura Spiranovic (72′) and Jessica McDonald (90+2′) scored equalizers for the Victory, but all hopes for a draw were dashed due to poor defending in the final minute of stoppage time.
As a result, Adelaide United were forced to feel the wrath of the Victory Women in a 5-0 shutout victory for Melbourne in Round 7. McDonald scored a brace in the 38th and 42nd minutes to pace the Victory Women. Also scoring were Spiranovic (8′), Barilla (49′) and Stephanie Catley (90′).
In the second match of the season between both Sydney and Melbourne, Maika Ruyter-Hooley’s 27th minute strike salvaged a 1-1 draw for the Victory Women. In Round 9, goals from Amy Jackson in the 31st minute and Fishlock in the 90th minute paced the Victory Women to a 2-1 victory over Canberra United.
Round 10 saw McDonald score a brace in the fifth and 90th minute and Petra Larsson add an insurance goal in the 11th minute of play to give Melbourne a 3-1 win over Western Sydneyt Wanderers. In Round 11, goals from Danielle Johnson (2′), Larsson (6′) McDonald (14′) and Spiranovic (57′) paced the Victory women to a 4-1 decision over Adelaide United.
However, Round 12 saw the wheels fall off slightly. Despite a fourth-minute goal from Amy Jackson and a brace from Barilla (33′, 62′), the same poor defending that cost them in Round 6 against Brisbane reared their ugly heads once again in a 3-3 draw.
The semi-final between the Victory Women and Perth Glory saw Spiranovic open the goal-scoring in the 51st minute of play. However, Perth equalized in the 56th minute, forcing a penalty shootout that saw Melbourne finish the job, 4-3, thanks to McDonald’s heroics.
In the end, the 2012-13 Wesfield W-League Grand Final between the Victory Women and Sydney FC was one Melbourne football fans will be wise to forget. Unless you support the Heart or Sydney, or course.
The irony of it all: of all the matches in which Melbourne elected to play its worst football defensively, they picked the Grand Final at AAMI Park—the home of the Victory men—to turn their hopes and dreams into custard. Larsson scored the Victory Women’s only goal, in the 41st minute of play, as they fell by the same scoreline the Sydney men fell to the day before: 3-1.
In spite of the football rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne kicked up a notch, the Victory did improve on their league standing, finishing third on the league ladder, their best finish yet in their five-year history. However, there is all but one group that know when the Victory Women can finally be mentioned in the same category as their male counterparts when it comes to winning domestic league championships…and that is the football gods themselves. Or is that goddesses?