Sydney ready to lay it all on the line in pursuit of W-League premiership

Full story first published in SBS’ The World Game:

With Wednesday’s W-League Big Blue shaping as the biggest in the fixture’s history, Sydney FC’s Remy Siemsen says her side will do “everything they physically can” to avoid falling at the final hurdle and secure the Premiers’ Plate.

Having sat atop the W-League table since the opening week of the 2020-21 season, Siemsen and her teammates can secure the premiership with a win or draw on Wednesday evening, while Victory – undefeated in their last seven games – can secure the trophy for the second time in three seasons with a win.

Sydney’s previous two premierships were delivered in back-to-back seasons over a decade ago when they fielded the likes of Heather Garriock, Kyah Simon, and Sarah Walsh amongst their ranks.

Since then, however, while the club have been able to lift a further two championships – the most recent coming in 2018-19 – the footballing purist’s achievement of sitting atop the table at the end of the regular season has eluded them.

“We’ve all discussed at the start of the pre-season that our main goal was to lift both trophies by the end of the season,” Siemsen, who wasn’t yet a teenager the last time Sydney lifted the Plate, told The World Game.

Starting the season with six wins on the bounce, the Harboursiders initially presented as unbackable favourites to achieve their double-trophy goal; continuity and early recruitment pursued by the club paying dividends in a season severely disrupted by the effects of COVID-19.

However, a 4-1 defeat to Brisbane Roar on Valentines Day quickly snapped any illusions that the campaign would simply serve as a Sky Blue procession, and the loss of key defender Ellie Brush to an ACL injury in March only added further complications.

Now, a 2-1 loss to Adelaide United and a 0-0 draw with Canberra United – featuring a three-week bye and rain-enforced gap in between – have ramped up the pressure ahead of Wednesday’s clash.

“I feel like we’ve led the whole way, it would be such a disappointment if we fell short just at the final game,” Siemsen said.

“We know what’s at stake. We’ve achieved a lot of the goals that we set as a team but we’re not done yet and it would be massive for not only this special group but also for the club [to win the Premiers’ Plate]. So we’ll be doing everything we physically can to lift that trophy.

“Having three weeks off due to postponements and byes, we were getting used to playing again but I think that we had a good performance [against Canberra] and Canberra is a very solid team.

“We knew that would be a fight, it’s not easy to travel down to Canberra with their home crowd and know how much is at stake with the premiership just in arm’s reach.

“I think we were a little bit nervous heading in but I think we played a very solid game and I think a draw was a fair result at the end of the game.”

Not only would a win or draw by the Sky Blues secure them the premiership on Wednesday, but it would also lock in a home semi-final against Canberra and, should they win that fixture, the right to host the Grand Final.

A loss, conversely, would see coach Ante Juric’s side slip to third place on the table and force them to travel to face Brisbane Roar in a semi-final.

Should Victory, in such a scenario, win their resulting semi-final against Canberra, they would then need to travel back to Melbourne for the decider.

“I love big games. I like a bit of extra pressure,” Siemsen said.

“How many scenarios can you be in when you’re fighting for a premiership and a home semi-final?

“We’re all very proud of the season that we’ve had as a team but we know the job’s not done. I’ve been really wanting to play Victory for a long time now because they’re a quality team all over the park.

“We love playing at home in front of our fans, family and friends. We always step up when we’re in front of a home crowd.

“You can see in Canberra how much support was behind the goals and I think that can be an extra motivation.

“We’re all excited to play at Cromer (Park). Being a community field, it gets a lot of great attention and a great crowd there so we’re hoping that the atmosphere is just as good as the other games we’ve played this season.”

Siemsen is also hopeful that fellow attacker Cortnee Vine, who suffered a knock against Canberra and was forced from the field in just the 37th minute, will be able to play against Victory.

Vine, 22, has four goals and three assists in 2020-21.

“[Vine’s] been around training and been in training so we’re going to see how she goes,” her fellow attacker explained.

“I think she had a little knock but fingers crossed she’ll be ok.”

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