'League on notice': Three things we learned - Wellington vs City
City fans were treated to an irresistible second-half performance from our A-League Women's outfit on Sunday, with the team running out 4-1 winners in their season opener.
Following a well-contested first half, the City girls came out firing in the second period, with Bryleeh Henry and Cote Rojas striking early and stand-in skipper Rhianna Pollicina netting a brace later on.
The heavy win saw the team rocket to the top of the A-League Women's table after Round 1, and comprised a performance well worth analysing further in terms of some of the lessons we were able to take away from it:
If that's what we can do with a second-string XI, watch out.
The one-sided nature of yesterday's contest was impressive enough, and most elements of the team's performance would have been very pleasing to Rado Vidosic, but when you consider just how understrength the starting XI was, you begin to appreciate just what an achievement the result was.
Missing from the lineup were star forwards Hannah Wilkinson and Holly McNamara, Tori Tumeth (whose inclusion here is admittedly a little fruitless given she'll miss most of the season), and Matildas defenders Karly Roestbakken and Emma Checker. The absence of these individuals adds up to more than the sum of their parts too, with Kaitlyn Torpey required to play out of position in the back three and City's defensive unit feeling a little unorganised without the leadership of Checker.
However, it was the impressive debut performances of players like Emina Ekic and Katie Bowen (I'll touch on Rojas and Galic in their own right) that helped to compensate for the losses of such key personnel.
If City can comfortably account for Wellington Phoenix playing on foreign soil and in front of over 5,000 opposition supporters without five of its best players, it's hard not to get excited about the prospect of what we might be able to do once at full strength again.
Rojas is already looking like an unbelievable signing
For a golden period of around 20 minutes yesterday, Cote Rojas played like she was dribbling her way around schoolkids.
The Chilean international had the confidence to know that no matter how many opponents encroached upon her or how bad the one-on-one situation looked, she would be able to beat her defender in the end. It was this confidence that fuelled her game-breaking dribble and assist for Henry's opener, her composed drive and finish from inside the six-yard box to double our advantage, and then the final individual effort to draw a foul inside the box and award her team the penalty for our third of the match.
Even off the ball, Rojas' fitness was also impressive for an almost 35-year-old - the forward was persistent in her efforts to lead the press throughout the match, and incredibly maintained this intensity for the entire 90 minutes, with stand-in Head Coach Dario Vidosic electing not to give her an early rest.
City may have lost plenty of firepower with Wilkinson's unavailability until Christmas, but Rojas looks like she'll provide plenty for fans to get excited about in the meantime.
Galic wasn't joking about locking down a starting role
In the aftermath of her breakout campaign for Australia at the U20 World Cup, City managed to sign 16-year-old Daniela Galic ahead of a plethora of other interested parties, locking down the teenage sensation for at least this season.
Galic then told club media that she had a place in the starting XI in her sights; an ambition that seemed lofty even for her standards at the time, but which came to fruition on Sunday when she kicked off her first professional season with a starting debut in midfield.
The teenager seems far taller than her listed 5'6" height, and given her tender age, there remains every possibility that Galic matures into an imposing figure in future Australian midfields.
Galic was one of the contest's most influential figures on the weekend, displaying plenty of technical class and even getting credited with the assist for our fourth and final goal that Pollicina bent into the far corner.
Following such an impressive performance on debut, Galic deserves another opportunity to shine in midfield, and it will be fascinating to witness her development throughout her first season in a professional football environment.