TAC Cup Girls preview: Calder Cannons

THE Calder Cannons were unstoppable in 2017, finishing undefeated on top of the ladder. Collingwood forward, Chloe Molloy had a dream season for the Cannons, as she was the competition’s leading goal-scorer, and the joint winner of the TAC Cup best-and-fairest. This earned her a spot in the Magpies line-up, after being snapped up at pick three.

But she was not the only Cannon who received the opportunity to play in the AFLW. Dual-code star, Monique Conti and elite midfielder, Sarah Dargan also earned a spot on AFLW lists, after they both had stellar seasons for the Cannons, and represented Vic Metro in 2017.

But unfortunately their 2017 coach, Alicia Eva, who played for Collingwood’s AFLW side last year, made the move to Sydney this year to play for GWS. However, new coach, Paul Tilley takes the reins with a squad that boasts three potential top draftees in Molly Warburton, Georgia Patrikios, and Madison Prespakis after the trio were selected in the 2017 All-Australian side as bottom-agers.

Calder’s successful 2017 was capped off by having five players named in the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year. One of these players was Gisborne’s Molly Warburton. She was also named the Riddell Youth Girls Best and Fairest, in only her second season of football. She played mostly at half-back during 2017, and did so well that she received an opportunity to represent Vic Metro. The Calder star is a similar player to former Stingray and now Carlton player, Bridie Kennedy, as both have an incredible leap in the ruck, and are solid defenders across the back-line. If she plays anything like Kennedy did last year, Warburton could be unstoppable in defence for the Cannons.

Georgia Patrikios shone in Cannons colours last year, as she was always zipping around the footy. Patrikios was also selected in the TAC Cup Girls’ Team of the Year, named on the interchange bench. The youngster has played her junior years at Pascoe Vale in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, and still runs around for the side in the EDFL Youth Girls competition. Patrikios was lucky enough to be the face of Essendon’s AFLW bid, along with Michaela Long, daughter of Bombers legend Michael. That means she could suit up in Essendon’s VFL Women’s side, after what could be another stellar year for her at Calder.

But undoubtedly, all eyes will be on the hottest draft prospect of the year in Madison Prespakis. Prespakis was named as a follower in the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year, thanks to a stellar season in Calder colours. The young gun also played for the Sunbury Lions in the EDFL Youth Girls Competition, and was best-on-ground in the grand final, which was played against Dargan’s and Patrikios’ Pascoe Vale side. On the day, she was instrumental, kicking three goals and getting plenty of the footy in and around the contest. Prespakis has a brilliant clearing kick which always allows her teammates to run into plenty of space. With many girls from other TAC Cup teams coming from dual-sport backgrounds, her long kick could set up a test of athleticism between the elite footballers of the TAC Cup Girls competition.

Aside from their draft prospects, the Cannons also have plenty of second-tier talent, who were elite in the competition last year.

One to look out for is Eleanor Cornish, who was another handy player for the Cannons in 2017. Cornish played in the ruck, but her versatility allowed her to go forward and make an impact. In the Cannons’ last game of the season, she moved down into the forward line, took a mark, and snapped a goal from the boundary line. This certainly raised the eyes of the talent scouts, and therefore, she is definitely somebody to look out for in 2018.

In the extended 2018 season, the Cannons’ biggest match comes in their season-opener when they face the Murray Bushrangers, who also went undefeated last year. If they overcome that challenge, they will head into the rest of the season full of confidence.

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