Sydney FC goalkeeper Jada Whyman earned the praise and mutual respect of fans from both sides after her Player of the Game performance in a losing side against Melbourne Victory in the 2020/21 Westfield W-League Grand Final.
Whyman made five stellar saves in a 120-minute shift which came unstuck with virtually the last kick of the game, after Victory star Kyra Cooney-Cross netted from a corner in the seconds before the end of additional extra time to give the visitors a shock 1-0 win at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
Whyman was awarded Player of the Game honours post-match, and social media has been awash with uplifting messages directed toward the Sky Blues stopper in the fallout of her side's heartbreaking loss.
The 21-year-old's performance was the culmination to a supreme individual season in which she kept seven clean sheets, conceding just 12 goals in 14 games.
Her consistent season in Sky Blue followed a tumultuous period plagued by injuries, from which Whyman believed she may have never returned to her brilliant best.
"It was on and off for two years nearly," Whyman told FOX-Sports after her best-on-ground performance in the Grand Final.
"I was getting to a point where I thought I wasn’t going to be able to play football at my best again, and actually be able to play football in the W-League generally."
The Sydney FC 'keeper underwent surgery in November, 2019 to fix a patella tendon injury she had carried for the best part of two and a half years. Whyman missed the entirety of the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign at Western Sydney Wanderers before joining Ante Juric and the Sky Blues ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.
"Just to be able to come back, Ante had the confidence to give me the first spot even having a lot of time out," she said.
"At the same time, I just can’t explain this season.
"Behind me was just the belief of my family and the girls to let me do my thing out on the field, and for them to support me all the way through.
That’s the best thing about this season, is having those girls behind me."
Whyman continued: "I had to make saves throughout this season, and sometimes I had to do nothing for a whole 90 minutes and maybe make one save, and it’s because those girls are defending throughout the whole game, and do their best for me.
"For me to be able to maybe just back them up today, that was a pleasure for me to do."
Whyman's best save of the Grand Final came late in the second half of regular time, when she miraculously kept a powerful Cooney-Cross header out from close range.
She fell into the net on impact from the attempt which Cooney-Cross sent hurtling toward goal, but Whyman was quickly up to her feet to help the ball around the post after the Victory star gathered and shot once more on the rebound.
Whyman proceeded to crush Annalie Longo's hopes of scoring from long range on two occasions in the first-half of extra time, making a pair of athletic diving saves to keep the score at 0-0.
It didn't register a statistic, but Whyman's quick thinking to close the space on Melina Ayres as the Victory striker gathered a loose ball in the box with an open goal beckoning in the 115th minute of play forced the resulting shot wide, as it seemed the Sky Blues stopper would force the game into a penalty shootout to decide who would emerge as Champions.
But, after Victory lashed 30 shots on goal to Sydney's 14, Whyman and the hosts finally conceded to Cooney-Cross at the very last moment to end all hope of a Premiership/Championship double to the Sky Blues.
There'll be no consoling the Sydney FC players after losing in such crushing circumstances, but speaking on-field whilst her opponents celebrated within earshot and eyesight, Whyman spoke with composure and perspective as she assessed the end result.
"It is what it is, that’s football, that’s life," Whyman said.
"The girls did great throughout the whole season, and unfortunately we couldn’t get over the line today.
"Victory played amazingly all season and did well to get there, and they did well to finish it off today.
"It hurts, but like I said it’s just football."
Regardless of the result, Whyman's display caught the eye of all those watching on as the drama unfolded on Sunday night.