Victory aim for ultimate goal

Having been edged from a maiden championship last year, the rapidly-improving Melbourne Victory are focussed on going one better this term.

Melbourne Victory have been incrementally improving since the first year of the Westfield W-League and there is every indication that the club is finally ready to break its championship drought.

Although the biggest in the Hyundai A-League, Melbourne Victory initially made slow progress in the Westfield W-League.

Until recently Victorian representation in the Westfield Matildas had long been a rarity, with national team goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri a lone flag-bearer for the state.

Now the state-s generation next - led by Steph Catley, Ash Brown and Brianna Davey - have made a clear imprint in the national team ranks.

The Victory missed the finals in the first two years of the competition, while last year they went a step further by reaching their maiden Grand Final only to fall to Sydney FC at the final hurdle.

Their rapidly ascending trajectory is clear, and the Class of 2013 have been further boosted by the signing of Westfield Matildas headline-act Lisa De Vanna.

The hugely-influential midfielder Jess Fishlock is set to return by round three, with the Wales skipper a standout in the recent inaugural season of USA-s professional National Women-s Soccer League.

Former New Zealand youth international coach Dave Edmondson has assumed the reins having made the move from Adelaide, and he is expected to bring new direction and experience to the side.

Little wonder then that newly-appointed skipper Catley is clear in stating the team-s big ambitions for the upcoming campaign.

“Our expectations for the season are pretty high,” she said.

“Our goal is always to go one better than the season before. We are looking to go all the way this year.

“There is no better incentive than losing a grand final and getting that close. We also have some good reinforcements, and obviously Lisa De Vanna is a massive gain as well.

“Our players now are a little older and more experienced so we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Aside from the high-profile signing of De Vanna, there is plenty more quality through the arrivals door in the shape of Swedish international defender Jessica Samuelsson and under-rated New Zealand midfielder tyro Katie Hoyle.

Add the likes of Westfield Matildas defensive starlet Emma Checker to the mix and the Victory roster would appear the equal of any in the league.

Melbourne Victory will have an early chance to state their championship credentials in a Grand Final replay against Sydney FC at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday, with the match to be televised live on ABC1 at 3pm.

Melbourne Victory squad changes (Coach Dave Edmondson) Ins: Lisa De Vanna (Sky Blue FC/Perth Glory) Jessica Samuelsson (Linkopings, Sweden) Alex Natoli (Adelaide United) Emma Checker (Adelaide United) Katie Hoyle (Eastern Suburbs, New Zealand) Beattie Goad (EAP) Emily Hulbert (Box Hill United)

Outs: Rachel Alonso (Bundoora) Petra Larsson (Linkopings, Sweden) Jessica McDonald (Seattle Reign, USA) Georgia Koutrouvelis (Box Hill United) Amy Jackson Danielle Johnson (Bay Area Breeze, USA) Maika Ruyter-Hooley Jacqueline Vogt (injured) Louisa Bisby (injured) Melissa Maizels (Bulleen Lions)