Sport

W-League: Ashleigh Sykes goes back to back with top honour for Canberra United

Canberra United striker Ashleigh Sykes has claimed her second straight player of the year award to stamp her position as one of the best players in the W-League.

Sykes was rewarded for another terrific season in taking home three of the four honours up for grabs at the team's awards night at the Dickson Tradies on Monday night.

Ashleigh Sykes with the Canberra United player of the year award.
Ashleigh Sykes with the Canberra United player of the year award. Photo: Graham Tidy

Along with the player of the year award, Sykes was also named the team's players' player and the supporters' player of the year.

The other main award of the night was shared between defender Emma Checker and midfielder Julia De Angelis, who were both named as the team's rising star.

Emma Checker, left, and Julia De Angelis were joint winners of the rising star award.
Emma Checker, left, and Julia De Angelis were joint winners of the rising star award. Photo: Graham Tidy

Sykes played a key role in Canberra finishing second on the W-League ladder behind premiers and champions Melbourne City.

She scored a team-high seven goals and was only one of three players, along with American midfielder Kendall Fletcher and defender Ellie Brush, to play in all 13 games.

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Canberra United coach Rae Dower said Sykes had taken her game to another level this season.

"She's still got so much potential and it's so exciting to see where she can end up," Dower said.

"She's well and truly been the best player in the league this season and I hope that's certainly recognised later in the year with the W-League awards.

"She won our player of the year by a country mile."

Sykes is third on Canberra's list of all-time games played, with 85 appearances, having debuted in the team's foundation year in 2008.

The 24-year-old was in the Matildas' squad for last year's Women's World Cup in Canada, but made herself unavailable for a tour to South Korea late last year, citing personal reasons.

Checker made an immediate impact in her first season with Canberra after coming across from Melbourne Victory in the off-season.

But the 19-year-old central defender's season came to an early finish when she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee in the warm-up before the 2-0 win away to Perth Glory in January.

United will be hoping Checker can make a swift recovery and be available for the start of next season.

De Angelis continued to develop in her second season in the W-League making six starting appearances in the midfield and coming off the bench another five times.

"They're both very different players," Dower said of De Angelis and Checker.

"Julia is so unflappable, when you see her as an 18-year-old coming up against Katrina Gorry or Tameka Butt, Jess Fishlock, Kim Little, she just holds her own so well and she's prepared to do the dirty grunt work in the midfield.

"Emma quickly developed a really good rapport with [Ellie Bush] in the centre of defence and it was just unfortunate her season ended the way it did."

Canberra United awards

Player of the Year: Ashleigh Sykes

Players' Player of the Year: Ashleigh Sykes

Supporters Player of the Year: Ashleigh Sykes

Rising Star Award: Emma Checker and Julia De Angelis

Volunteer of the Year: Christine Moffitt and Lisa Garner