Melbourne City goalkeeper Lydia Williams insists her side is not overawed by the prospect of achieving Westfield W-League history ahead of Sunday’s Grand Final against Perth Glory.
City will lock horns against the Glory at nib Stadium for a chance to become the first team to win back-to-back W-League titles, after Jess Fishlock’s extra-time winner secured passage to the Grand Final with a nail-biting win over Canberra United.
It’s incredible just how confidence and belief can transform the fortunes of a team in the blink of an eye.
City appeared to be on the canvas midway through the season, after a six-match winless run left it teetering on the brink of missing the Finals Series.
But it’s not about how hard you fall, it’s about how fast you get back up. What City displayed thereafter, winning its last two matches to make the play-offs, and then triumph in Canberra, was togetherness, fighting spirit, and an abundance of ability.
Williams, who was recently named in the PFA W-League Team of the Season alongside Fishlock and captain Steph Catley, attributes the turnaround to a simple change in mentality.
“I think it was just a turn in mindset, we just had to get the job done no matter what,” she said.
“What we’ve all learned in the last three matches is that the league is still unpredictable.” We had to approach each game as if it’s going to be our last.”
“The Grand Final is not going to be any different. Everyone is taking it in their stride and not getting too overwhelmed with the significance of it. We’re just excited to get over there and get the job done.”
Williams reserved special praise for teammate and Interim Head Coach Fishlock, who steadied the ship amidst a period of uncertainty in the middle part of the season.
“Everyone respects Jess, she has a fantastic mind and football brain,” Williams said. “In any new role it takes a little while for a person to get comfortable with it and find the right kind of balance.
“She definitely has that now and Patrick (Kisnorbo) coming in has helped, Paul [Kilpatrick] has stepped up as well. Just the change in dynamic has really helped and given us a lot of stability.”
Defensive steel has been the centre-piece of a barnstorming run to the Grand Final, as City nullified a potent Canberra attack consisting of Golden Boot winner Ashleigh Sykes to record a second consecutive clean sheet.
The central defensive pairing of Laura Alleway and Lauren Barnes stood firm once again amongst wave after wave of Canberra pressure, while Williams proved to be the thorn in her former club’s side with a string of impressive saves, in what was another player-of-the-match performance.
Quelling the threat of in-form Perth striker Samantha Kerr is a task which may prove pivotal in deciding the outcome of Sunday’s contest, and is a challenge Williams insists her side is more than prepared to deal with.
“The Perth team have a lot of threats in their squad, but Sam’s obviously the main one,” she said.
“I think we’ve done well, especially in the Canberra game with their strike force, being able to keep that under wraps and not let them get too ahead of us.
“We limited them to a lot of shots outside the box, which hopefully we can do on Sunday as well.”