Over the weekend, the four best teams in Australia’s W-League faced off in the playoff semifinals. In the scorching heat, Melbourne City FC — current home to Seattle Reign FC players Jess Fishlock, Lauren Barnes, Larissa Crummer, Lydia Williams, Steph Catley, and Jodie Taylor — faced off against the top-ranked Brisbane Roar.
After a defensive battle in the first half, the teams went into the break scoreless. The trend continued early in the second half, although the match opened up after about 15 minutes. That turned the tide in MelbReign City’s favor, and the team finished with a 2-0 win over a Roar side that went 9-1-2 in the regular season.
Welsh midfielder Jess Fishlock played a big role in the win, albeit with a whole lot of help from her Reign FC teammates. The team’s leading goal-scorer coming into the match (6 goals in 12 games), Fishlock did what Seattle fans have come to expect — summoned some kind of magic energy to come out even faster, stronger, and more energized as the match wore on.
Melbourne City went up 1-0 in the 66th minute on a goal from Aivi Luik, but there was still plenty of time for the Roar to find an equalizer. Then, in the 72nd minute, Kyah Simon received the ball near half and saw a sprinting Fishlock heading toward goal. She placed a perfectly weighted one-touch ball over the top. It bounced once before Fishlock slid to connect with the pass — sending the ball just over Brisbane goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold and into the back of the net.
Talk about a vintage Fishlock goal.
The effort sealed the victory for Melbourne City. Centerback Lauren Barnes, who came close to scoring herself on a set-piece shot, ended the match with the most duels won (6) and clearances (4) for Melbourne City, while left back Steph Catley led the team in interceptions (2). The backline held Brisbane to just one shot on goal.
The squad now heads to its third straight W-League Grand Final and has the chance to make history as back-to-back-to-back champions.
Fishlock and her Reign FC teammates will face Sydney FC in the championship match, which kicks off Saturday, February 17 at 10 PM Pacific Time. The game will stream in the U.S. on Oz.com (available for a small fee).