A mix of missed one-on-one chances have ended up costly for the Stingrays with the side going down 3-0 against Manly at Macedonia Park on Sunday.
An Emily Minett masterclass up top for Manly was too much to handle for the Stingrays, with the striker notching up a hat-trick.
Despite the wait for their stars, Steve Gordon's side were boosted by the return of recently-retired professional player Caitlin Cooper to the starting 11 for the clash.
Before the match United were also looking for their first victory of 2023 after conceding two late goals against Macarthur in round one in their 2-2 draw.
Illawarra were almost made to pay for not being able to play out from the back effectively with Manly awarded a penalty kick early on in the contest. The Stingrays were let-off however with United's Minett putting the ball wide of the right post.
However just 60 seconds later, the Rays did not learn from their mistakes and gave the ball away to Minett inside the box who this time made no mistake and Manly broke the deadlock early.
The best chance for Gordon's side in the first half fell to stalwart Michelle Carney after she was left one-on-one with the goalkeeper in the 22nd minute but put her shot wide of the post.
The Stingrays wrestled their way back into the game and both Cooper and Halle Callow had shots denied brilliantly by goalkeeper Nicole Simonsen late in the first half.
However the side were dealt a massive blow early on in the second half, with Minett finding space and unleashing a shot just outside the box to grab her second for the match put United 2-0 up.
Minett then grabbed her hat-trick and fourth goal of the season after some brilliant lead up play and Manly finished three goals to the good.
The Stingrays will look to mark their first win of the campaign in their next game when they face Emerging Jets on Sunday at 5pm.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.