With eight goals to her name so far this season, you can hardly call Brisbane Roar’s Emily Gielnik a ‘secret’ weapon but there is no doubting the 20-year-old’s attacking prowess will prove a key factor in this weekend’s Westfield W-League grand final.
Seven of her eight strikes have come from appearances off the bench and Saturday’s semi-final against Sydney FC proved no different – substitute Gielnik popping up in the 95th minute with a well-taken right-footed shot to level the score at 1-1 and force extra time in the decider.
Extra-time ensued and with the scores still locked after 120 minutes, a penalty shootout set the scene for Brisbane’s triumph – Roar goalkeeper Casey Dumont saving one and forcing another shot high, meaning a 4-3 victory for the home side.
While she knows it’s fast becoming her trademark characteristic, Gielnik was still astounded by the events of Saturday afternoon.
“I was thinking ‘what if I score, what if I score’, then I scored and I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
“It feels phenomenal, who would have thought when we were 1-0 down and under the pump and to get a goal in the last dying second and to know we’re going to be in a grand final, it’s just amazing.”
The win over the Sky Blues means Brisbane now face Canberra United in this weekend’s grand final – a re-match of the inaugural Westfield W-League decider back in early 2009, in which the Roar prevailed 2-0 with goals to Lana Harch and Tameka Butt.
While most would back Head Coach Jeff Hopkins’ decision if he were to start his leading goal scorer against the undefeated premiers, Gielnik was adamant she was happy with her ‘super sub’ reputation.
“I really enjoy starting but I don’t really want to break the trend,” she said.
“I think I prefer coming off the bench now, I get more time to suss out the defence’s weaknesses.
“When I come on, I feel like I come on with 100 per cent intensity and try and make an impact and try and change the game in some way.”
Brisbane Roar captain Clare Polkinghorne hailed the contribution of her teammate and backed the young striker to continue her goal-scoring run against United on Saturday.
“She’s been strong all year off the bench,” Polkinghorne said.
“She’s little bit of spark that if we need, she’ll come on and she always delivers.”
Brisbane Roar face Canberra United in the Westfield W-League grand final on Saturday, 28 January at McKellar Park, kicking off at 2pm AEST. The match will be shown live on ABC1.