Standout season has Cooper keen for more

Caitlin Cooper hopes to maintain her top form from a standout 2016-17 W-League campaign at the Wanderers throughout the Illawarra Stingrays season as the defensive star eyes more Matildas action over the next 12 months. 

STAR: Stingrays gun Caitlin Cooper claimed the Wanderers W-League player of the year during the week. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

STAR: Stingrays gun Caitlin Cooper claimed the Wanderers W-League player of the year during the week. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Cooper was named Western Sydney’s W-League player of the year at the Wanderers Medal night on Tuesday night following another stellar performance in the heart of the club’s defence. 

She wrapped up her season at the Wanderers in January, but has since returned to the lllawarra to take up her spot at the Stingrays. The 29-year-old was keen to mark her mark again for Illlawarra – who have started the 2017 NSW NPL women’s campaign with two losses – while also keeping one eye on national team duties.

“I am just trying to lead by example for the younger girls in the Illawarra,” Cooper said.

“Hopefully they can look up to me and I can put in some good performances for the team, and for myself looking forward to the national team as well.”

Cooper has already been capped seven times for the Matildas, who have a quiet 2017 schedule after playing in the Algarve Cup earlier this year. They are expected to have a string of yet-to-be-determined matches later this year, which Cooper hopes to be a part of.

A top season in the W-League has kept the veteran defender in the selection frame.

It also didn’t go unnoticed around the Wanderers, who awarded the club’s top women’s award.

“It was very unexpected,” she said.

“I felt like I did have quite a strong season.

“Coming off a disappointing start to the year, I just wanted to finish the season strong. It is very rare that defenders get player of the year so it was nice.”

Cooper said she hoped to maintain the good form into her next W-League season.

In the meantime, she will continue to play a pivotal role at the Stingrays.

Illawarra have started the season with losses to title contenders Sydney University and Football NSW Institute.

They face another big test this weekend against Manly United on Sunday afternoon.

They will host the fifth-placed side at Albert Butler Memorial Park. 

“It has been a tough start to the season so we really need to turn things around against Manly,” Cooper said.

“They are quite a physical team.

“We will need to keep the ball and muscle up to them because they are physical so hopefully our girls can give it to them.

“Being strong in the midfield is our main focus this week.

“We do have a new group of girls and we are just trying to gel together at the moment so hopefully we can get it done this weekend.”

Illawarra are ninth on the ladder heading into the clash, with only the Emerging Jets behind them.

  • ROUND THREE

ILLAWARRA STINGRAYS vs MANLY UNITED

Sunday, 3pm

Albert Butler Memorial Field