IN the opening round of the NAB League Girls season, our writers took a look at all six games and some of the players that the respective Female Talent Managers regarded as ones to watch throughout the season. All notes are opinion-based on the individual writer.
Calder Cannons vs. Western Jets
By: Peter Williams
#2 Felicity Theodore
The small midfielder with good pace continually cracked in hard throughout the game. Her hard effort was best exemplified by her mark in the third term, going back with the flight with pressure coming from behind. She showed good core strength and smarts at times to keep the ball in front of her, whether by paddling along the ground, or getting it to a teammate in a better position. She showed clean hands throughout the contest and won a fair chunk of the ball early in the final term, perhaps the next step is more penetration on kicks. Overall a hardworking performance.
#11 Alana Barba
Had a few nice plays with a quick handball off the deck to Makeisha Muller in the second term to create a scoring opportunity, as well as a good kick to a teammate’s advance. In the final quarter, Barba created some run off half-back and cleanly handballed to Theodore.
#22 Makeisha Muller
Muller made things happen up forward, and while she hit and miss when going for goal – rushed at times – she had some eye-opening moments. After missing a snap on goal in the second term, Muller had another chance moments later with a shot sailing through using the breeze perfectly. She continued to present throughout the contest and almost had another goal but it was rushed across the line by an opponent.
#41 Georgie Prespakis
The standout best on ground, it is hard to believe Prespakis is yet to turn 16 years of age. Much like her sister Madison, some of the things she does cannot be ignored. The way she positions herself at stoppages and moves through traffic is a highlight and she has a booming kick that is used to put opposition defenders under pressure by putting it deep inside 50. Prespakis moves well and has good composure and made what was one of the goals of the day look simple. She won the ball, turned, shrugged off an opponent and snapped one home. She is a natural kick of the football and also worked back defensively to take an uncontested mark in defence later in the game. Prespakis had a chance for a second goal but missed to the left.
By: Taylah Melki
#13 Isabella Grant
Beautiful evasive skills to work her way through traffic and kick a goal in the first quarter. She broke a few tackles throughout the game and showed good spatial awareness. Grant ran hard both offensively and defensively and contested well both in the air and at ground level to win the ball back for her side. Had a really good passage of play where she worked her player inside and out to shrug off a tackle and try and kick to a teammate highlighting her impressive footy IQ.
# 17 Elisabeth Georgostathis
Georgostathis impressed with her speed and ability to opens up space across the ground. She provided plenty of good forward momentum with her clever use of the ball to hit up teammates cleanly. She showcased her good evasive skills, sidestepping opponents with ease and was calm solid under pressure highlighting her ability to think her way through tricky situations. The midfielder got her hands to plenty of the ball, proving how deadly she can be with ball in hand. She was really good in the contest and displayed her footy smarts throughout the game with her clever kicks to her teammates advantage. Georgostathis was not afraid to break out of packs, extracted the ball cleanly from congestion, read the play well and constantly got involved in the passage of play. She hunted both the ball and player throughout the game, laid good strong tackles. In the final term of the match she took an impressive contested mark against two opponents, proving to be a real playmaker for her side credit to her skill and commitment.
#23 Isabelle Pritchard
Pritchard went in hard for the ball all game and worked tirelessly at the contest. She had quick hands, was good in close, and used her strong kick to try and clear congestion. At times, she could improve her composure, but she had moments of brilliance especially in the last quarter where she laid a goal saving tackle, lunging to stop her Calder Cannons opponent from scoring. Pritchard applied good defensive pressure throughout the match.
#25 Cleo Saxon-Jones
She took a good strong mark in the first quarter and used her long booming kick to help set up play in the forward half on more than one occasion. Saxon-Jones provided a good option in the attacking 50, contested hard to win the footy both in the air and on the ground and cleared the ball well throughout the course of the game.
Bendigo Pioneers vs. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels
By: Peter Williams
#4 Brooke Hards
One of Bendigo’s best, Hards did not take a backwards step. Occasionally she would be pinged for holding the ball, but her attack and desire on the ball is what you like to see. She constantly put her body on the line, but also managed to find space on a wing and at half-forward. At one stage she won the intercept ball, fended off an opponent and kicked inside 50. Clean at ground level and a long kick, it was a solid performance from the number four.
#19 Jemma Finning
Was not a huge ball winner, but her kicking was a standout. She had a piercing kick from half-back to the wing in the first term, not only hitting its target, but being low to avoid a spoil from an opposition defender. She can turn out of trouble and also run both ways, intercepting the ball at half-back and kicking long to the wing.
#28 Eloise Gretgrix
Played a real team-orientated role in the middle of the ground and regularly went in hard at the coalface. Along with Hards provided some great inside support, replacing the work that Megan Williamson did last year. Was one of the most consistent Pioneers players on the day and won more one-on-ones than she lost.
#36 Kate Douglass
Played at full-back and certainly teamed well with Tara Slender in the key defensive posts. She is strong one-on-one and just clears the ball from danger every chance she gets. Douglass held her ground under immense pressure on a number of occasions and if not able to dispose of it long by foot, looked to release a running defender.
#44 Jordyn Jolliffe
Kicked a couple of goals and showed enough to suggest the over-ager will add an important element to the Pioneers’ attack. Having missed last season due to injury, she played out of the goalsquare and looked dangerous in the air, then pushed into the midfield at times and also had an inside 50. A mark running back with the flight about 25 metres out showed great courage.
By: Taylah Melki
# 9 Renee Saulitis:
She attacked the goal face early on narrowly missing then backed up her efforts in front of goal scoring a freakish goal in the first quarter. Saulitis was on a tricky angle she turned, took a few steps and slotted it straight through the middle. The party tricks did not stop there for the talented forward nailing another impressive goal in the third, showcasing her ability to read the play well. She roved the ball off the back of the pack turned around and nailed a goal from just outside the goal square highlighting her footy smarts and good goal sense to position well and score.
# 10 Ella Wood:
Showed good attack on the ball and was not afraid to hunt the player to win the contested ball. Wood worked hard to win the footy for her team and had a good presence around stoppages to makes herself available. She got into clever positioning across the ground and showed good dash through the middle. At times her execution was slightly off, but the endeavour and intent to attack the play was there, helping to set up many forward thrusts.
# 24 Sophie Molan:
Good strong spearing kick and knows how to use the footy to maximize her impact per possession. She is clean with ball in hand, helps to set up good attacking play and worked hard in the attacking 50. The captain scrapped well to try and win the loose ball at ground level and showcased her pin point precision with timely and accurate passes. Molan has good spatial awareness and used her clever sidestep to avoid traffic and shrug off opponents. She roved well off the pack and tried to clear space with her long kick over the top. Molan displayed her good hands under pressure to take a big mark coming out of defence and willed herself to the contest on a few occasions. She proved to be a good option up forward and continued to present time and time again.
# 30 Nyakoat Dojiok:
Dojiok was really quick off the mark and showed good closing speed to shut down her opponents. She went in hard at ground level to try and trap the footy and marked her player closely showing good defensive pressure. Dojiok highlighted her good evasive skills to get in and under the tackler then dash through the centre. In one passage of play she put the afterburners on and tried to hit up a teammate in the forward 50. She broke the game open in the third with her impressive speed and run through the middle of the ground, taking a bounce and kicking the ball long inside 50, creating a half chance at goal for her teammates.
# 32 Isabella Simmons
Scored a good goal in the opening term and took a few solid marks. Simmons provided some good strong leads in the opening quarter and kicked her second goal for the first quarter. She was cool, calm and composed under pressure with a shot after the siren in the first and showed good spatial awareness. Simmons showcased her footy smarts to evade players and then run through the middle of the ground and provided some good link up play through the middle.
# 35 Maggie Caris
Caris impressed with her clever use of the ball to open up space and set up a scoring opportunity for her teammates. She was solid in the ruck with some clever taps to advantage to her teammates and used her height to try and dominate the opposition. She moved well across the ground evading opposition after winning the footy in the air, proving her versatility and class.
Northern Knights vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Taylah Melki
# 3 Nell Morris-Dalton
Hit the post early on but showed good goal sense throughout the game to be a viable option up forward, later scoring a goal. Morris-Dalton impressed with her ability to read the play and showed good footy smarts to body up and control the footy. She had solid hands under pressure and at times looked to have plenty of time and space with ball in hand. Morris-Dalton also helped to set up good attacking play for the Knights.
# 6 Alyssa Bannan
Bannan displayed a good use of footy to kick the ball into the forward half and mount some forward pressure. She nailed an impressive goal in the last quarter quickly turning and finding the goals credit to her clean use of the footy and general goal sense. Bannan took a good intercept in the forward 50 and worked hard to apply pressure, ride the tackle and keep her arms free to release a handball.
# 7 Abigail Bennett
Beautiful kick of the footy kicking a goal in the second term and showed good hands under pressure. Bennett applied good tackling pressure to try and trap the footy in the Knights forward half and displayed good awareness to avoid the tackler and tap the ball back into play. ??
# 14 Jess Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald had clean hands under pressure and impressed in one passage of play with an easy pick up off the deck, followed up by a clever kick toward to trap the ball inside forward 50. She showed good speed to break away from the pack and handball out of stoppage to a passing teammate to try and set up a shot at goal.
# 18 Sarah Sansonetti
Sansonetti took a good strong mark back in defence and showcased her kicking ability with a long kick over the congestion into space. She displayed good body positioning on her opponent to win the footy and attacked the footy hard. She proved she was not afraid to go in hard to meet the contest.
# 21 Ellie McKenzie
McKenzie was clean out of the centre, had good ball skills, showed good control with the footy and hits targets up on the lead. She took a strong contested mark, and highlighted her impressive aerial abilities along with her impressive spatial awareness to hit up teammates on the wing. She starred in one passage of play with a strong intercept mark and then propelled the ball forward. McKenzie displayed her clever sidestep out of traffic, fended off two players and kept arms free to release ball to teammate proving her class. She racked up the clearances credit to her clean hands in and around the footy and opened up space across the ground. McKenzie highlighted her football skill in the second quarter receiving a handball and going for a run, fending off two players and almost delivering the ball inside 50 to a teammate.
# 22 Britney Gutknecht
She slotted any early goal credit to her clever snap. Gutknecht accumulated plenty of touches with a good pick up off her toes and proved to be a real play maker through the middle. She ran hard across the field to try and interfere with the play and slotted an impressive goal from 50 thanks to beautiful long kick. She strikes the ball well, showed good spatial awareness and impressive footy smarts. Her composure under pressure was second to none slotting an impressive four goals for the game. She took a heap of strong contested marks across the ground and was a real presence across the field. Gutknecht seemed to have the ball on a string in the last term racking up the possessions.??
# 23 Gabby Newton
Clever play in the forward half and showed an impressive goal sense and ability to get boot to ball. She was clean around the ground scooping the ball up in one hand. Newton took a really good mark in the forward 50 and showcased her footy smarts with a clever chip kick to hit up teammate in a better position. She tackled hard to try and win back possession for her side and impressed with her follow up play across the field. Was not afraid to accelerate forward and open up space and showed good presence around the stoppages.
# 32 Ash Snow
Snow was not afraid to go in hard and extract the footy from the stoppages, getting down low. She tackled hard throughout the game and had clean hands in close. She highlighted her footy smarts with a good chip kick in the middle of the field to open up the forward 50 and create a scoring opportunity for her side. Snow took a few strong marks and was clean with ball in hand with a good hit up kick to teammate in the forward 50.
By: Peter Williams
#7 Kate Adams
Adams rotated between midfield and defence, playing half-back, on. a wing and onball, using the ball consistently, and was able to use short kicks to hit-up targets on the wing. Against the bigger bodies she got pushed around a little, but never gave in, winning an important one-on-one late in the game.
#8 Abby Favell
Favell showed some promising signs around the ground, both offensively and defensively. Early on she took a good mark on the lead at half-forward and delivered a low pass inside 50 to a teammate. She ran down an opponent in a tackle and seemed to just keep running throughout the day, trying to get the Bushrangers moving in transition.
#10 Sophie Locke
Like many players, did not win a heap of the ball, but she constantly put pressure on the opposition. She cracked in hard and laid a great tackle on her opponent in the second term to force a turnover. In the final quarter, she laid another terrific tackle that was rewarded with a free kick. Her defensive efforts were very good and she helped out a defence that was under siege at times.
#45 Olivia Barber
Showed some nice signs throughout the four quarters in the air and at ground level. She made a number of strong second efforts and was able to use the ball well. She laid a great running tackle later in the game to earn a free kick, and was able to fire a handball off to a teammate while Barber was still on the ground.
Dandenong Stingrays vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Peter Williams
#10 Abbey Jordan
Playing on a wing and half-forward, Jordan had a quieter first term before getting into the match more from the second term. She pressed up from half-forward when the ball was in defence and provided an option out wide. She kept running to find space and took a huge grab in the final term to put the ball in the path of Tyanna Smith to run onto towards goal only to just miss.
#26 Isabella Shannon
The Saints’ AFL Women’s recruit kicked the first goal of the game for the Stingrays with a snap in traffic. She kept presenting at half-forward taking a. number of marks, but also won the ball off the deck. In the third term she won a few possessions at half-back, and showed a few quick steps out of a centre clearance to bomb the ball long and deep inside. 50.
#28 Tyanna Smith
Smith worked hard for the Stingrays in the midfield and kept running all day long. She showed off her clearance ability time and time again, being a danger around the stoppages and just attacking the ball hard. She gave away a few free kicks throughout the game, but constantly harassed opponents with frantic tackling or implied pressure. She had clean hands and smart thinking to use the ball by hand out of a. stoppage, and had the chance to give Dandenong a huge shot running into goal in the final term, but it just missed to the right.
#31 Brooke Vernon
An underrated performance from the defender in a role that can be unforgiving, but Vernon was terrific on the last line. She saved at least two goals that Eastern would have otherwise kicked, which included a goal-saving smother in the second term, and then bumping her opponent off the ball in the goalsquare as she tried to soccer it home. While the Stingrays did not win, Vernon’s actions kept them in it, and she was so calm and composed under pressure, and has a long kick that clears the defence. The best from the Stingrays.
#51 Zoe Hill
The Stingrays full-back is a rebounding machine, who just is as consistent as they come. She is a good mover in traffic, and a long raking kick. She is one that tends to have Velcro hands at times and can win a contested ball at ground level too. Still a bottom-ager, but she has quite a few nice traits and consistency on her side.
#21 Olivia Meagher
A huge first half by Meagher set the tone for Eastern, winning a number of intercept possessions as well as contested ball at the bottom of packs. She won the ball in all thirds of the ground, and either kicked forward or looked for the quick handpass to a running teammate. She showed good smarts throughout the game and had a few nice touches and applied pressure to opponents.
#26 Tarni Brown
Classy. It is the easiest way to describe Brown who has unbelievable agility, speed and technique, it is just ironing out areas such as assessing her options at times which would make her go to the next level. She can kick it long and has no issues finding space, and when she does have space in front of her, it is hard to stop her. The daughter of former Magpie captain, Gavin Brown, the smooth mover showed just how much speed she had in the final term with a blistering run, quick handball to a teammate, receive and then kick inside 50 which covered about 40 metres. Her metres gained would be remarkable, and while she does need to just build that consistency by foot, the technique is there.
#39 Laura McClelland
The AFL Women’s Academy member took some huge grabs, including a ridiculous contested mark where she read the flight perfectly despite being in the middle of two opponents. She kicked a terrific goal in the second term after intercepting the ball at half-forward, taking a few steps and never looked. Like missing. She showed clean hands off the deck and spreads well, it is just cleaning up the kicking at times that would be the next step, but McClelland has a lot of tricks.
#46 Serena Gibbs
The netballer showed some serious talent, and while consistency in finding the ball is an area to build upon, her kicking was surprisingly impressive for a code-crosser. Gibbs lead at the football and by bringing the ball to ground created a goal to Mietta Kendall in the second term. Then she speared a pass into another teammate despite being hugged on the boundary line, and was finally rewarded in the last term with a goal for her efforts from a nice snap.
Oakleigh Chargers vs. Gippsland Power
By: Peter Williams
#1 Gemma Lagioia
The classy mover did her thing throughout the match and spread across the ground to win the ball on the outside. She got her side on the board with less than 30 seconds remaining by side-stepping an opponent, straightening up and putting though a major just before quarter time. A one-grab player who is clean by hand or foot, she knows how to weight her kicks and angle them.
#2 Mimi Hill
The Chargers’ captain won a lot of the ball, particularly in the first half. She played off half-back and was the general in defence, clearing a lot of Gippsland’s attacks. As the Chargers had more control in the second half, she was needed less, but she still found a way to be involved, pushing up the ground and winning the ball. Showed nice vision and neat foot skills.
#4 Emily Harley
The difference between the teams as the key forward target inside 50. After a quiet first term where she gave away a free kick or two, she became the one that forced the opposition defenders to infringe on her. She was pushed out of a contest in the second term, earned the free and made no mistake with. The set shot. She had another shot early in the third after protecting the drop zone, marking on her chest and setting sail for goal. It fell short but was marked by Kalarni Kearns who slotted it. Another chance for a major off a huge pack mark resulted in a poster, but Harley quickly rectified the missed with a loose ball get and snap goal. She nailed her third goal after a dominant one-on-one after almost converting another chance moments earlier on the run. She capped off a dominant, best on ground performance with her fourth goal early in the final term.
#8 Alana Porter
The speedy midfielder showed some great signs throughout the match and had one really impressive play in the second term. She. Won the ball at half-back, ran along the wing burning off an opponent and then hit a teammate at half-forward while at top speed. Earlier in the game she missed a chance for goal after going back with the flight then receiving a 50m penalty. Often being held trying to get out of a stoppage, Porter was able to buzz around and use her speed to clear the ball throughout the game.
#8 Chandra Abrahams
Abrahams has always had the offensive ability to pull down a massive contested mark – which she did a couple of times during the game. But her tackling pressure and defensive work against Oakleigh was very impressive. While the consistency is still there to be built, her work in the middle and on a wing was really solid, and laid a crunching tackle on the strong Emily Harley in the first term. A team contributor throughout the match.
#9 Maddison Shaw
Played off half-back and applied pressure to the ball carrier at times, earning some free kicks for her troubles. In the first term she was hurt as she won a free for a run-down tackle then as she played on was tackled herself and got up ginger. She came off but returned to still play an important role.
#27 Nikia Webber
Looked in for a big game when her first touch saw her win it at ground level, turn around with a snap and slam it home for the opening goal of the game. After the first term the forwards were limited and Webber spent most of her time in the midfield where she used her strength to win contested ball. The attribute that sets Webber apart from the rest of her peers is her elite kicking which not only hits targets, but can do so over long distances. Her tackling is fierce, and while she gave away a number of free kicks, Webber continually tried to win the ball back for her team. An example of a second effort came in the second term where she dropped a mark, followed it up, won the contested ball and then moved clear and kicked it long.
Sandringham Dragons vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Peter Williams
#25 Sarah Hartwig
Played on Lucy McEvoy early and the two had an entertaining battle. Well suited to the role as she is strong one-on-one, Hartwig held her own and took some strong marks against tough opponents. A couple of times she was beaten when opponents had front position, but she was often able to either get the hands up or spoil it to keep the ball alive. She took a number of important intercept marks, enjoying the freedom of being able to still hold a defensive role, while attacking from half-back, once McEvoy moved into the middle. Hartwig won a big one-on-one contest from the back position in the final term as the Falcons were charging home.
#28 Alice Burke
Playing an inside midfield role, Burke just went in hard from the first to final sirens. She covered the ground well and laid some really hard tackles throughout the contest. She has that outside ability, but her willingness and ability to extract a ball from a contest saw her remain in that onball group. Burke got to show off her skill in the final term with a nice weighted kick to Winnie Laing in defence.
#42 Marguerite Purcell
Showed some nice speed on the wing and was able to get a few quick kicks out of the stoppage. Roamed around and moved in transition, she was one of Sandringham’s better midfielders and was the outside mover to many of the Dragons’ inside brigade.
#7 Paige Sheppard
Played along a wing and just fights for the ball. Her decision making and vision was good on the day, and was able to hit-up Lucy McEvoy between a couple of opponents in the second term. Always likes to keep the ball moving, Sheppard beat two opponents on the wing in the final term to kick forward and let the Falcons maintain possession.
#14 Darcy Moloney
A bit like the energiser bunny with ball in hand, Moloney just keeps it moving. She is one of those players that immediately looks to play on wherever possible, and has the athletic traits to be able to do so. Moloney has lightning first few steps and is able to dance around an opponent. In the third term she had one of the plays of the weekend, when she was one-on-one, handballed over her opponent, ran onto it, burnt off her opponent and kicked the goal on the run taking into account the wind. It was a very impressive moment.
#21 Lucy McEvoy
Started in the middle then moved forward with Sarah Hartwig for company. She just willed herself to contest after contest, and continued to do so throughout the match as she then moved back into the midfield. With McEvoy on the ball, the Falcons were able to get the ball forward courtesy of her long booming kick. She was constantly involved and her follow-up work and work ethic are an example of what every player can aspire to. Even if she loses a contest, she will be laying the next tackle or putting her body on the line every chance she gets.
#23 Renee Tierney
Copped a knock to her shin early in the second term, Tierney started higher up the ground then went back deeper to where she is more familiar. Kicked a good goal, but also missed a couple of opportunities. Continued to present as you would expect from your forwards, and she applied some defensive pressure as well.