It’s been a record-breaking regular season for Melbourne City’s women’s team: 12 games, 12 wins, 38 goals scored, four conceded.
It has, says star midfielder Jess Fishlock, been enjoyable, exciting and a huge accomplishment.
But, she adds with a grin, no one is resting on their laurels.
The entire City squad feel that they have achieved too much in the regular season to even contemplate blowing it now by falling over in the finals.
City entertain fourth-placed Brisbane Roar (the club they beat in late December to wrap up the Premiers Plate) in the W-League semi-final on Monday as the curtain-raiser to the men’s team’s A-League game with Wellington Phoenix.
Fishlock, who has enjoyed a star-studded career in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Australia, plays a dual role with City. She is both one of the team’s highest-profile and most-successful players, but also works as the assistant coach alongside Joe Montemurro.
She (and striker Kim Little) are with the sky blues on loan from their American club, Seattle Reign, and Welsh-born Fishlock, who turned 29 earlier in January, is determined to add a second W-League winners medal to the one she collected with Melbourne Victory women’s team in 2013-14.
“Its been a very interesting season for us. Given everything that we have here it’s definitely up there with the very good times for me,” she said.
“We look on what we have achieved as a huge accomplishment, but then we go into these games [finals] with a separate mindset … it’s about can you perform on this day.”
“It’s up to us. Brisbane are a good team, they are always going to be tricky and the reality of it is is that everyone now really wants to beat us, so they are going to give an extra 10 or 15 per cent on top of what they have
“We have to understand and be ready for that. The group we have is a very special group and I don’t think right now that we want to have the season we have had and then drop out on Monday.
“I believe in these girls, I am confident in these girls. I don’t believe the fact that it’s a semi-final will hinder us, and I am really excited to play at AAMI Park, it’s a big pitch and it will help us,” the City co-captain says.
She has no difficulty in splitting her role between star midfielder and assistant to Montemurro.
“I am a player, but I have a huge part as an assistant to Joe. It’s something I have really enjoyed and learned a lot from … he’s a really fantastic person for me to learn from a coaching perspective.
“We manage the different roles really well when it comes to training. In training I am simply a player.
“But when it comes to analysis, individual stuff, when we do separate things, then I can do a coaching role.”
There has been criticism in some quarters of City’s approach to its first season in the W-League. It attracted big-name players and has given them first-class facilities in which to work, and has got the results.
Fishlock, not surprisingly, believes City’s approach has been good for women’s soccer and should be emulated by other clubs if they want to lift the overall standard in this country.
“What Melbourne City women have here, only a very few clubs in the world have a facility like this, and this backing,” she said.
“That’s a huge thing to have in Australia because no one has ever had it before.
“They are setting standards, huge standards and it’s very exciting times for the W-League here because next year clubs have a choice to make, they can either catch up and try and match and invest, or they don’t and that’s not very helpful for the league. The City group could be the changing force in Australian women’s football for sure. “