PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
The Newcastle Jets W-League season may have just finished but coach Craig Deans is confident they can become a competition powerhouse and is already thinking about next year.
The Jets lost a handful of senior players, including Matilda Emily van Egmond, coming into this season but under the reins of new coach Deans made an encouraging start to their 2015-16 campaign.
They matched it with the top teams and were in the top four for most of the season but needed to win their last-round match to be a chance of securing their first finals berth since the league began.
The Jets drew 0-0 with Brisbane Roar last weekend, ending their hopes but Deans said there were plenty of positives to take from the season and was keen to move swiftly to start planning for next season.
“Obviously we lost our five most experienced players from the squad last year,” Deans said. “That gave some opportunities for imports to come in and some fringe players to step up.
“The imports were brilliant for us, and people like Cass Davis, who were fringe players before, are regular starters now.
“One of the positives was the chance for the new girls to step up and show what they’ve got, which they did.
“I would like to have 80 per cent of the squad confirmed and locked down in the next two weeks then I will spend four or five months looking for the others.”
Another strong point from the season was the Jets’ defensive record. They kept six clean sheets from 12 outings and conceded just 12 goals for the third best defensive record in the competition behind league minor premiers Melbourne City and second-placed Canberra United.
But they failed to fire at times in front of goal and that proved a telling point in the end. The Jets finished the season with just nine goals in 12 games, for the least amount of goals scored from any side.
“We weren’t good enough in front of goal,” Deans said. “We created a lot of chances in every game but just didn’t have that killer instinct.
“But I think we are just a couple of players away from being a very competitive team, we just need to find that one or two players.”
Deans is hopeful American imports Caprice Dydasco and Megan Oyster will return to Newcastle next season. They have flown back to the US to play for Washington Spirit in the National Women’s Soccer League.
He also expects a few of the younger players from this year’s squad, like home-grown teenage talent Brooke Miller, to be more of a force in the coming seasons.
The W-League semi-finals have commenced. Canberra hosted Sydney yesterday, with Sydney going into the grand-final and Melbourne City are at home to Brisbane today at 4:30pm. The winners will meet in the W-League decider on January 31.