JETS coach Craig Deans believed his side’s 2-0 win over Sydney FC was a small step towards showing they were a serious team in the W-League this season.
American Arin Gilliland starred with a goal and an assist as Newcastle beat Sydney on Saturday at McDonald Jones Stadium to back up their season-opening 2-1 victory over Western Sydney.
Gilliland provided a cross for Nikola Orgill to score in the second minute, then put in a header herself from a corner in the 29th.
It was a rare win for Newcastle over the traditionally strong Sydney, who had Matildas great Lisa De Vanna making her debut for the club. The Sky Blues also had the likes of American international Emily Sonnett and a host of Matildas, including former Jet Chloe Logarzo.
Newcastle have finished just outside the top four finalists the past three seasons but have made an early statement this campaign in their hunt for a first play-off appearance since the league’s inaugural season of 2008-09. The result left them second to Perth on goal difference at the top of the table.
Deans said the attitude of his squad was right as they look to topple regular contenders such as Sydney, Canberra, Perth and Melbourne City for a place in the finals.
“There comes a time when you have to stop being a small team and you have to put your hand up and be ready for the fight and ready for the challenge and I think today was a small step in the right direction, but there’s a long way to go,” Deans said on Saturday. “But to win like we did and keep a clean sheet, in just our second game together, it’s a good start.”
Deans said expectations have always been high in his squad, which welcomed the class of Emily Van Egmond, Tori Huster, Britt Eckerstrom and Katie Stengel.
“Within the group, the level of expectation is that we win every game that we play,” he said. “What other people say is out of our control anyway and normally we get told we’re going to come last or second last, so we’re used to people doubting us and challenging us.
“Now we have to challenge ourselves and make sure people know we’re a serious team, but it’s only two games out of 12 and we need to continue to get better.”
“But our work ethic and attitude, and spirit within the team, is good.”
Newcastle are away to Melbourne City next Sunday.