Sport

W-League: Canberra United's four straight clean sheets thanks to Melbourne City motivation

Goals bring fans through the gates, but it's defence that wins championships.

That's the platform Canberra United are building around having conceded just once in the past two months.

Canberra United defender Rebecca Kiting, left, puts pressure on Sydney FC's Amy Harrison during their 1-0 win earlier ...
Canberra United defender Rebecca Kiting, left, puts pressure on Sydney FC's Amy Harrison during their 1-0 win earlier this season. Photo: Mark Kolbe

The reigning W-League title holders host the Western Sydney Wanderers in their penultimate game of the regular season on Sunday attempting to extend their winning streak to seven games.

Second place is all but assured, with focus now on keeping that momentum ticking over leading into the finals.

While Canberra's attack is slowly clicking into gear, they have been afforded time to develop given the strength of the defence with four straight clean sheets.

From Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams between the posts, to a consistent back four, to a pressuring midfield and strikers who work tirelessly for 90 minutes, Canberra never give the opposition a moment to rest.

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The wake-up call came on November 8 in a 4-2 loss to Melbourne City, who have won 11 straight games in dominating their debut season.

Since then, the only goal Canberra gave up was in a 4-1 victory against the Wanderers on November 29.

"When you concede four goals in one game, no player likes that whether you're an attacker or a defender," Canberra United right back Rebecca Kiting said.

"Playing with that in the back of your mind that we can't concede and don't want to be a team that's easy to score against.

"That sort of drove us, having that mentality in the game that we're going to hopefully score lots of goals, but not concede any because that would give us the best chance to win."

Melbourne City's defence has been just as stingy, having allowed just three goals through their opening 11 games of the campaign.

Even the hiccup of losing centre-back Emma Checker to a season-ending knee injury in the warm-up last week didn't prevent a 2-0 victory against Perth Glory.

The biggest challenge for Canberra over the next two games will be to maintain their intensity knowing their place in the finals is assured.

Kiting believes the competition for places in the team will ensure no one will be able to rest on their laurels.

"The depth within in our squad is really helping that because each player doesn't know if they will be in the team or not, or even on the bench," Kiting said.

"We see that at training, it's even more competitive than it was in pre-season.

"That's definitely fuelling us as individuals to play well and as a team we want to take momentum into the finals series, so we'll be looking to get some good results in the next two weeks."

SUNDAY: W-League: Canberra United v Western Sydney Wanderers at McKellar Park, 4pm.

Canberra United squad: 1. Lydia Williams (gk), 2. Catherine Brown, 3. Julia De Angelis, 4. Kendall Fletcher, 5. Jenna McCormick, 6. Caitlin Munoz, 7. Ellie Brush, 8. Meg McLaughlin, 11. Michelle Heyman, 12. Emma Kete, 13. Nicole Begg (c), 14. Ashleigh Sykes, 16. Tegan Riding, 17. Veronica Perez, 18. Rebecca Kiting, 20. Melissa Maizels (gk)

Ins: Meg McLaughlin, Catherine Brown (both promoted)

Outs: Emma Checker (knee – season)

Western Sydney Wanderers squad: 1. Teagan Micah (gk), 2. Caitlin Cooper, 3. Carmelina Moscato, 4. Chloe O'Brien, 5. Kendall Johnson, 6. Rachael Soutar, 7. Helen Petinos, 8. Erica Halloway, 9. Elizabeth Grey, 10. Michelle Carney, 11. Keelin Winters (c), 12. Hannah Beard, 13. Eliza Ammendolia, 14. Demi Koulizakis, 15. Ellie Carpenter, 20. Jada Whyman (gk)

Ins: Jada Whyman (returns from injury), Helen Petinos, Demi Koulizakis (both promoted)

Outs: Jordan Baker, Lisa Farrington (both omitted)