Another season has come to a close for our WNPL side, and 2019 has been a season full of ups and downs for MUWFC.
Season 2019 started back in October 2018, with the appointment of new coach Tony Scalzi, who took over the position from former coach Marie Spagnoletti, who moved into the Junior Technical Director role at the club.
On the pitch, there were some new faces from other clubs that Scalzi brought into the WNPL set up, with Annie Green, Jessica Signoriello, Millie Scott, Ellie Bills and Amber-May Smith joining Goalkeepers Olivia Beer and Hunter Strudwick at the club, with all of the aforementioned players gaining some big minutes throughout the season, some for the first time in the WNPL. This valuable experience will only bode well for these players in the future.
Stella Rigon was named as the club Captain, and was re-signed along with long time MUWFC players Ebony Kyriacou, Lauren Steer, Ness Reed, Shelly Kuhar and Donna Cockayne, while the experience of Laura Stockdale and 2018 FFSA Hall of Fame inductee Kristy Moore also decided to play on for the 2019 season.
FFSA introduced a new Pre-season tournament for the WNPL, “The Mitise Cup” which began at the end of January. This was used as an opportunity for Tony Scalzi to see his new players work with existing MUWFC players, with some mixed results in that competition.
The WNPL season as a whole will have been seen as a major disappointment, with MUWFC finishing the season in 5th position with 8 wins, 3 draws and 10 losses, with a goal difference of -9, and missing the WNPL Finals Series for the first time in the WNPL era.
Unfortunately, the injury curse seems to have stayed with MUWFC for yet another season, and hampered the side all throughout the year. Chanel Todino, Lauren Steer and Jess Signoriello all suffered Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries, while Ness Reed, Shelly Kuhar, Laura Stockdale and Kristy Moore all had extended stints on the sideline due to injury and sickness. Goalkeepers, Hunter Strudwick and Olivia Beer, both succumbed to injuries throughout the season as well, meaning that Olivia Bunge, who is MUWFC’s Division 1 goalkeeper had an extended run in the WNPL side and played 7 of the 21 League matches, and performed admirably.
Only 3 players out of 25 who played WNPL football for MUWFC played all 21 WNPL League matches, including Chrissy Panagaris who once again finished as MUWFC’s top goal scorer with 16 goals, with defenders Ebony Kyriacou and Isabella Scalzi being the other two.
After such a horrific run of injuries and sickness, and a massive amount of matches missed by first team players in 2019, MUWFC is leaving no stone unturned in an attempt to rectify this, and have the squad in better shape for the 2020 season.
The Cup competition had a different format from the past few seasons. With FFSA disbanding the Women’s State League in 2019, the top tier Cup competition comprised of the WNPL sides, their Reserves teams, and all 10 Division 1 teams, meaning that MUWFC had 3 teams in the same Cup competition.
Our WNPL side received a Bye in the first round, then had wins against Adelaide Comets Reserves and Fulham United’s WNPL side, before succumbing to eventual Cup winners Adelaide City in the Semi Final.
However it hasn’t been all bad news in 2019, with the emergence of Georgia Henderson, who played 2018 in the Reserves, standing out in midfield when she came into the side, while 16 year old Michaela Hadaj also got her first taste of WNPL football during 2019. And as mentioned earlier, the likes of Jess Signoriello and Annie Green played more WNPL minutes that what would have originally been planned at the start of the season, which is certainly only a positive for those girls.
With 2019 now completed for our WNPL side, planning and preparation will have begun for the 2020 season, and the club will no doubt be expecting to bounce back into the Finals next season, and once again look to push for silverware.