Melbourne Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins was left proud of his side’s Westfield W-League campaign after finishing the season with the Premier’s Plate.
Victory claimed its first ever Premier’s Plate, but fell to Perth Glory in an enthralling Semi Final at AAMI Park on Sunday.
Reflecting on the campaign, Hopkins said he was proud of what Victory managed to achieve in 2018/19.
“You never really know what the season is going to hold for you. I knew at the beginning of the season we’d accumulated a much stronger squad,” he said.
“I think year on year what you try and do is you try and refresh and regenerate the squad and fill the gaps where you thought you were a little bit weak the year before and we managed to do that with some really good additions to the squad.
“I was confident that we had a team that were capable of really contesting for a top-four spot and as the season went on, we started thinking more about can we finish a bit higher than that, can we actually go ahead and win it?
“If you look at the games as well, a lot of the games we won by just the odd goal so it’s still proving what a tough league this is to go and win.
“That makes me even prouder of the way the team has kept pushing on this season and their performances have been excellent. I’m really proud – pride in the way the players and the team has performed.”
A host of new arrivals – Christine Nairn, Emily Gielnik, Dani Weatherholt, Sam Johnson, Teigen Allen, Grace Maher and Ella Mastrantonio – helped Victory to significant improvement this season.
While he lauded his entire squad, Hopkins had special praise for his defence, led by centre-backs Laura Alleway and Johnson, full-backs Angela Beard and Allen and goalkeeper Casey Dumont.
“She (Johnson) has added that steel to the back four, her and Laura have been I think the best central defensive pairing in the league most probably by a long way and that’s gone a little bit unnoticed,” he said.
“We see Tash (Natasha Dowie) getting all the goals and Emily creating and scoring and Christine, but our back five have been magnificent.
“I think they’re just about there as the least goals conceded in the league and a lot of that comes down to our two full-backs Teigen and Angie and the two central defenders and keeper, they’ve been fantastic.”