SOUTH Australia has plenty of young talent that is impressing at South Australian National Football League (SANFL) level. With four games played every weekend, we will cast our eyes over how the 2021 State Academy – including initial squad members – perform each week. In some cases, such as Lauren Young this week, there might be some young guns who are below the age to be in the Under 19s Academy, but have impressed enough to feature in the article. All notes are the opinion of the author.
SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD
#1 Tahlita Buethke
Has some really promising athletic traits that she keeps showing in bursts. Buethke is not afraid to crack in, and was teaming up well with Lauren Clifton in defence, trying to move the ball out quickly. In the third term, she had a nice move to cleanly pick up the ball at ground level, duck a high tackle, play on and run to kick inside 50 well. With a balance of speed and clean hands, when she gets going she is really eye-catching.
#5 Sarah Wright
Built on her first game back from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last week with an even better game this week. Playing off half-back, the defender often ran from the back 50 and pumped it long out of the danger zone. An ability to show clean hands and composure under pressure, Wright was just solid across all the quarters, and is adept at getting a hand in to spoil. One of the better Panthers on the day.
#36 Gypsy Schirmer
Not as clean with her disposal as she was the week before, but still had plenty of say on the contest. The opposition was often trying to lock down on the talent, and she even copped a knock late in the game. Luckily she was able to bounce up, but throughout the match she produced her standard array of highlights. Her footy smarts and particularly her burst speed both with ball-in-hand and without it are what put pressure on the opposition. She spreads well, and created something out of nothing six minutes into the third term with a great snap whilst being dragged down in the goalsquare. Schirmer almost booted a second goal running in but it was touched off the boot. Her second efforts were typified by being pinged for holding Leah Cutting in the forward pocket, but then making up for it by running across and smothering the ball to lock it in attack.
#41 Lauren Clifton
Started on a wing and rotated between the wing and half-back where she found her fair share of the footy. Often teaming up with Buethke and a host of fellow defenders in the back half of the ground, she seemed to have an impact throughout the match. At times she would need a couple of cracks at ground level to pick it up cleanly, but once she was up and moving she could be damaging. Clifton loves to keep the ball moving, and had a flying shot in the third term which went through for one behind.
#15 Alana Lishmund
Took a strong one-on-one grab on the quarter time siren, and had a few big efforts, but ultimately had a quiet game this round. She was reported in the final term for charging in an aerial contest, but showed good strength in the contest moments before. She kept running hard all game, but was not as utilised as previous weeks. Continued to apply defensive pressure on her opponents though.
#22 Jade Halfpenny
Much better than an eight-disposal, two-mark game might suggest with a number of eye-catching moments throughout the contest. The marking forward was able to kick two goals – in the second and third terms – with an amazing dribble off a one-grab pick-up, then a set shot early in the third term from just inside 50. Her ability to cleanly grab the ball off the half volley was terrific, and she showed off a nice sidestep that tricked opponents into over committing. If she had a few extra seconds here or there, she could have ended up with a couple more goals. Her field kicking was an area of improvement from the game with a few turnovers when going inside 50, but once the goals were in sight, she just knew how to find them.
#30 Sarah Branford
A pocket rocket who does not need many touches to have a memorable impact on a contest, Branford finished with just the six disposals, but a number of them came with a whole heap of metres gained. When having time and space, Branford looks to run with ball-in-hand and predominantly plays forward but can push up to a wing. Standing at only 159cm, she was caught out against the 183cm Montana McKinnon at one stage in a one-on-one, and then other taller opponents as well making life difficult. If the ball hits the deck, that is where Branford thrives, and one of her early touches in the opening minute of the third term led to a goal with a perfect low pass with great technique.
CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. STURT
#28 Lauren Breguet
Unfortunately her day ended early when she was hurt in a tackle midway through the second term after some promising signs. Before coming off she had roamed up the field to win a number of touches, and took a good intercept mark at half-forward. While a few of her touches were cut off by the defence, the half-forward managed to rack up nine touches in less than 27 minutes of action.
#40 Madison Lane
Played her role once again in defence, and was able to clear the ball from the danger zone on a number of occasions. She is not afraid to attack the marking contest and come across as a third player to spoil, also showing off a nice sidestep at half-back to kick forward and keep it moving.
#41 Laitiah Huynh
Once again one of the best Central players throughout the game, particularly in the first three quarters. She got her side on the board early after great defensive work, converting a set shot from 35 metres out. Hunyh’s pressure game is incredible, wherever she is on the ground, and she forces opponents to make mistakes be it through a fierce tackle, or just implied pressure with their awareness of her athletic traits. A second chance from 35m out in the first term just fell short, and while the Bulldogs did not manage to kick a goal in the second half, Hunyh still remained involved, and is able to flick handballs off with lightning hands, and just keep the ball in front of her. Round 1 was a huge performance for Huynh, but from a defensive standpoint, this was still consistent and impressive across the game.
#3 Georgia Swan
The saying it might not be your day but it can be your moment might apply to Swan in this game. Only the three touches, but her moment came nine minutes into the fourth quarter. Sturt was behind and needing a goal with time running out. As the Bulldogs went to clear, Swan smothered it, the ball rolled into Sturt’s possessions, and ended the chain in a match-winning team goal. Without the smother, her side might not have won, so it paid for her to be switched on with the great defensive effort.
#19 Alex Ballard
Stationed in defence this week, Ballard took a number of intercept marks and had some big tasks such as Katelyn Rosenzweig early. She would use her body to advantage against smaller opponents, and her footy smarts to sidestep them and charge forward. In the third term she really stepped up with a number of marks, intercept possessions and goal-saving clearing kicks, with her composure under pressure a highlight in the game.
#20 Hannah Prenzler
Stepped up with a better performance than Round 1, particularly in the second half with the game on the line. After a quieter start, Prenzler was a wall at centre half-back, intercepting and driving the ball out of defence time and time again when the Bulldogs were advancing after half-time. Her power to drive through opponents and have the composure to hit targets was admirable. A potential match-saving intercept mark late in the game one-on-one was huge, and then shortly after contested the mark to knock the ball over the line and force a stoppage rather than an uncontested Bulldogs mark.
#30 Zoe Prowse
Returned to her predominant ruck role for this game after splitting time between ruck and midfield last week, having a big impact around the stoppages. She imposed herself on the contest, and was so fierce with her taps she falconed herself by punching it in the air then copping it on the top of her head, before making sure the next stoppage she comfortably cleared the pack. Clean below her knees and able to provide defensive pressure around the ground, Prowse had her fair share of the ball and was a standout once again for the Double Blues.
GLENELG vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
#7 Brooke Tonon
Had plenty of the football this week after showing patches in Round 1. Whilst not having a ton of space to work with – which is usually her forte with her run and carry – Tonon still tried to break the lines where possible. She was clean at ground level and able to hit targets when on the move. A couple of times she dropped a mark, but was generally solid with her hands, just offering up an option on the outside as a runner and distributor.
#12 Tamsyn Morriss
Played an unheralded role in defence but held up against a pretty talented North Adelaide forward line. She won her fair share of the ball and took a number of intercept marks, trying to move the ball from end-to-end in transition. Morriss shared the kickout duties and was involved in the last passage of play where she put the ball in front of a teammate who could not quite gather, Morriss won it back but the second disposal did not quite go to plan when she went to mop up, the siren sounds. Her intercept marking saved her side on a number of occasions so overall was strong in the back 50.
#31 Hannah Ewings
Defensively Ewings was as one had come to expect of the talented bottom-ager, just laying tackle after tackle, and applying immense pressure to the ball carrier. Offensively, Ewings could have really kicked a bag but had a few unlucky bounces, with a couple of chances heading towards goal but taking a left hook turn and going through for a behind. This also happened a couple of times on the wing where she put it out in front of teammates but the ball had other plans and went out of bounds. Her kicking was a delight once again, and she stepped up when they needed her. Went on to kick the sealer in the final term with a nice set shot that sailed home for a 14-point lead that would prove too much for the Bays.
#33 Julia Clark
The North Adelaide defender again was able to balance between defensive and offensive output, with some solid plays throughout the match. Her kicking when having time was perfectly weighted, particularly going inside 50, and she was able to win a free kick late in the second quarter with a technically terrific holding the ball decision by pinning the arms. A couple of times she turned the ball over, but she kept working hard throughout the contest.
#38 Kate Case
One of the better Roosters on the day, Case once again predominantly played in the back half, and was really impressive overhead. Not only was she winning the ball on the spread, but was beating her opponents one-on-one in the air and at ground level to be one of the top ball winners throughout the match. Her second efforts were also a highlight, where she would try and back up if she made a mistake and win the ball back for her team. She was clean at ground level, cleverly ducking out of a tackle and giving the ball off to a nearby teammate.
WEST ADELAIDE vs. WWT EAGLES
#8 Keeley Kustermann
Not a huge game, but she just is able to win the ball and hit targets on a consistent basis. Her balance of athleticism, skills and decision making was a highlight. She took a couple of good marks, but her delivery on the move or from a stationary position was very good, and she just kept running throughout the game, offering herself as an option in transition.
#9 Zoe Venning
A big game from the talented top-ager, who racked up a game-high 25 touches and was impressive from the first bounce to final siren. Her defensive attributes have never been in question, with her work rate and successive efforts among the top traits she possesses. Venning kicked the opening goal of the game from a set shot thanks to a free kick and nailed it from 25m out with no issues. She had a couple of other chances throughout the game, but either passed them off or just missed. Her running and ability to get separation from her opponents on the outside matched her inside ball winning capabilities, making her have a nice balance of contested and uncontested possessions. Such quick hands and good footy smarts, Venning had a game to remember.
#30 Lauren Young
After a stunning debut last week, 15-year-old Young was back again and while the middle two quarters were a little quiet, Young still tallied plenty of touches, having a massive final term after a fast start. She used her raking boot to advantage coming off half-back and driving the ball to the wing or up forward. Her efficiency was not as high as in Round 1, but her impact due to the metres gained was still impressive. She took a number of strong marks and still had her fair share of clearances out of the middle to set up goal-scoring chances.
#8 Charlotte Dolan
Not as many touches as Round 1, but Dolan had a hard-working effort throughout the game, putting her body on the line and trying to break the opposition zones with her running. Had very little time and space, but took a couple of great intercept marks, and even faced off against multiple opponents at different times, such as in the last quarter. Her strength overhead and on the ground was solid across the board and never stopped trying running the game out hard.
#25 Jamie Parish
A pair of strong hands at half-back, Parish had a couple of good plays by pulling down some strong marks, and then putting her body on the line at ground level. She was spreading from defence to get the ball forward, and while she did not win a heap of it, was always up for the fight defensively.
Picture credit: On The Ball Media