The A-League Women has lived up to all expectations at the halfway point of season 2022-23. There have been shock upsets, chaotic score lines, the emergence of a new crop of stars, and the usual suspects putting on a show.
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With half a season now elapsed, there is no better time to laud and celebrate the players who have contributed plenty of excitement to the league's first 10 rounds.
This isn't a list of the top 10 best players in the ALW but rather a collection of the players who have exceeded expectations, who started the season well and have continued to impress, and those who simply know no other way to play football than dazzling all those lucky enough to watch them.
1. Daniela Galic
Touted as one to watch in ESPN's season preview Daniela Galic has been a revelation. It's a lot of pressure to place on a 16-year-old but she has so far handled it with aplomb, making nine appearances in her first ever season of ALW. The spotlight was turned on the youngster after her wonderful showing at the U20 FIFA Women's World Cup in Costa Rica last year -- Galic was sometimes a full four years younger than her teammates at the tournament.
She has proven herself to be crucial to a Melbourne City team well in contention for silverware, scored two terrific goals, and is equal second in the league for assists with three. As with any young gun, expectations need to be managed, but so far Galic has shown that her best is absolutely good enough.
2. Rylee Baisden and Cyera Hintzen
Is it cheating to put two players in one slot? Of course! But the rules are made up and the points don't matter in this list. Perth Glory came into this season with a sense of optimism surrounding them and while the results haven't necessarily flowed, a dynamic attacking duo has emerged out west in Rylee Baisden and Cyera Hintzen. To name one without the other feels unfair.
The American duo have been an integral part of each other's success so far this season; the stats sheet often reads Baisden goal, Hintzen assist. The pair have scored over half of Glory's 12 goals for the season with Baisden netting five in seven games, and Hintzen setting up four goals and scoring two of her own in nine matches. Unfortunately for both Baisden and Glory, they won't be able to count on her goals for the rest of the season after it was confirmed she ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament at AAMI Park in Perth's 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory.
3. Casey Dumont
The Victory shot stopper ended last season on a high; an A-League Women's championship with Victory in which she was adjudged the best on ground. While the ALW has the longest offseason in Australian football, Casey Dumont has continued her excellent form between the sticks. She seemingly doesn't know when she's beat and is able to produce save after save when Melbourne need her.
Victory boast the equal second stingiest defence in the league and Dumont is a critical part of the statistic. Her coach and fans have been quick to put her name into the conversation for Matildas' bolters and it's a conversation she deserves to be in.
4. Hannah Keane
Hannah Keane's road to the ALW has been a winding one but, just like her club Western United, she is lighting the competition up. The American is currently leading the golden boot race with six goals in eight games and has taken to the league and the team like a duck to water.
She has been the focal point of Western's attack and taken on the role well. While many of her goals have been finishing the work of teammates out wide, Keane has indeed buried these opportunities. If she continues to score for Western, the team's quest for a fairytale first ALW championship in their maiden season doesn't seem so impossible.
5. Maria Jose Rojas
Maria Jose Rojas is no stranger to the ALW having previously played for Sydney FC, Adelaide United, and Canberra United. But her season so far in City blue has gone to the next level. Rojas started the campaign on a guest contract but her four goals in five games made the impermanence of her deal feel like clubs across the league had missed a trick.
One player's injury is often another player's opportunity and so with Emina Ekic's forced departure due to a broken leg, Rojas will stick around in Melbourne following national team duties. If the first half of her season is anything to go by, the Chile international will play a hand in any success City enjoy this season.
6. Madison Haley
Sydney FC's front three, particularly in their last two seasons where they have tasted plenty of success, has consisted of Princess Ibini, Cortnee Vine, and Remy Siemsen. Two premierships and two Grand Final appearances were achieved thanks in large part of this formidable trio. With no Siemsen at the start of this season, it was up to American Madison Haley to fill the gap. And Haley has been a goal machine for Sydney FC, netting five goals in six games.
It's no surprise that after a successful college career with Stanford, Haley has immediately made a positive impact on her team. Her smart positioning, ability to outmuscle opponents, flair and accuracy have made her a handful for opposition defences.
7. Vesna Milivojevic
Australian-born Serbia international Vesna Milivojevic is back in the ALW after an initial stint with the Western Sydney Wanderers. After time abroad in Serbia and Germany, Milivojevic is currently tearing up the competition in Canberra green. Her technical skills have made her an invaluable part of a fearsome Canberra attack which boasts the likes of Michelle Heyman, Nickoletta Flannery, and Grace Jale.
Her three goals and three assists make her one of the most well-rounded attackers in the competition and if she continues on this trajectory, the Australian national team set up may just be wondering if they let a good one get away.
8. Kaitlyn Torpey
Kaitlyn Torpey has always been an impressive ALW player, but her second season at Melbourne City is raising the bar. As with all other good full-backs, what make Torpey excellent is the fact that she isn't just solid defensively. She gives just as much to Melbourne City's attack and has the engine to patrol the right-hand flank for 90 minutes.
Torpey leads the league in passes in the opposition half further proving her worth as a key part of Melbourne City's attack and defence. While she did not make the cut in the first Matildas big board, if she continues to put in strong performances, her name may well appear in the conversation in the future.
9. Kayla Morrison
The most impressive part of Kayla Morrison's season so far is that it barely looks like she missed all of last season with her ACL injury. The American centre-back was a revelation in her first season in the ALW and her performances had her name thrown into the conversation for Matildas bolters. Pre-injury, Morrison was one of the best, most calm defenders in the league. Her positioning meant she rarely looked bothered and could diffuse situations with ease.
All players returning from major long term injuries deserve a grace period to get back into the game but it has felt like Morrison didn't even need an adjustment period. Her performances have once again made her a conversation point with the national team and it's a dream that doesn't feel as implausible as it once did.
10. Leah Davidson
A favourite of ESPN's The Far Post podcast, Leah Davidson's work goes largely unnoticed and that, in its own weird way, makes it all the more impressive. Likened to a Keira Walsh-type player, who has the ability to clean up messes before they even occur and control the midfield for Melbourne City, a strong argument can be made that Davidson is the premier defensive midfielder in the competition.
Melbourne City's already formidable line up has only been aided by Davdison's inclusion and the level of protection she provides to the backline make her practically indispensable from Dario Vidosic's starting XI.