Wander Women 2023/24 season wrap

Whilst our A-League Women’s season came to a heartbreaking end, the team can still be incredibly proud of their efforts over the 2023/24 season.

It was a season where the Wanderers recorded their biggest points total, most wins and most goals in a season, as the Wanderers won 10 games, scoring 30 goals on the way to a 33 point season, and it was only two surprising results in the final round that saw the Wanderers denied finals football on goal difference.

Whilst there is disappointment to the outcome, the fact the Wanderers were in such a hard fought fight for the finals and finished only three points off third place is a remarkable achievement given the difficulties the side faced early on in their campaign.

The side changed managers just 10 days before the start of the season, with former Socceroo Robbie Hooker joining the club; despite the sudden change the side showed promise in their opening few games, but were undone by clinical opposition, as well as a last gasp equaliser from Newcastle that denied the Wanderers a win in Round 3.

They were able to kick start their season with a huge win away from home against last season’s grand finalists Western United, with Sophie Harding and Cushla Rue scoring the goals that gave the Wanderers their first win of the season.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 25: Sophie Harding of Western Sydney celebrates a goal with teammates during the A-League Women round six match between Western United and Western Sydney Wanderers at City Vista Recreation Reserve Pitch 1, on November 25, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)

This would be the start of a wonderful run of form for the Red & Black, as they lost just one of eight games in December and January as they climbed into the Top Four, recording wins over Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City along the way.

Speedster Sophie Harding burst onto the scene during this time, scoring eight goals in nine games to put herself near the top of the goalscoring charts; she ended the season with 12 goals, the best ever tally for a Wanderers player.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 23: Sophie Harding of the Wanderers celebrates with her team mates after scoring a goal during the A-League Women round 21 match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Western United at Wanderers Football Park, on March 23, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The middle third of the season saw the Wanderers go through another tough period, with the Wander Women unfortunate not to get the share of the points in their home Sydney Derby, whilst having close defeats against Brisbane and Adelaide.

A defeat against Canberra United looked on the cards when they were behind deep into stoppage time, before Maliah Morris’ first goal of the season secured a valuable point for the Wanderers.

This would be the springboard to a late fightback, as the Wanderers won three on the bounce, winning 4-1 over Canberra, Harding scoring a wonder goal to defeat Perth 1-0, and a clinical 3-1 victory over Western United.

Coach Hooker was key to the runs of form, with tactical tweaks to the formation and personnel throughout the season helping inspire these strong runs of form; the improved attacking output and performances of Harding and Holly Caspers – five goals and seven assists – saw him rewarded with a two-year contract extension in January.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 23: Wanderers head coach Robbie Hooker watches his team during the warm-up before the A-League Women round 21 match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Western United at Wanderers Football Park, on March 23, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The attacking pair weren’t the only ones that impressed; captain Amy Harrison shone in a new role at centre back alongside Vicky Bruce who scored three goals, whilst Talia Younis briefly became the youngest player in A-League Women’s history – a record broken by teammate Ischia Brooking – and was a standout figure in midfield who will no doubt turn into a great player.

The Wanderers are in a great place to build on the successes of this season, with the likes of Holly Caspers and Cushla Rue already signing contract extensions to keep them in Western Sydney next season and beyond.

With Hooker able to have a full pre-season with the team this time around, the Wanderers can feel confident of building again next season.