THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s returned for Round 2 on the weekend, with another six enthralling fixtures spread over Saturday and Sunday. As the season runs concurrently alongside that of the AFLW, top-flight players from Victorian clubs who miss out on senior action will be able to run out for what are effectively reserves or sides in the VFLW. Round 2 saw promising elite level talent scattered across the eight aligned teams, with players immediately staking claims for call-ups.
Geelong may have narrowly gone down in Round 1, but saw some impressive young performers earn senior call-ups to shuffle the Cats’ latest lineup. First year forward Stephanie Williams found some scoring form with two majors as the game’s lone multiple goalkicker, while Georgia Clarke also hit the scoreboard and was productive with ball in hand. Maddie Boyd was another to impress, taking on some unexpected ruck duties and holding her own.
In the weekend’s first all-aligned clash, Collingwood went two from two with a 22-point win over the Southern Saints at Victoria Park. Amelia Velardo showed vast signs of her development as she thrived in a new role off half-back for the Magpies, while Maddie Shevlin continues to press for her first senior game in 2021. Tall Bella Smith again found the goals and Kristy Stratton was combative in midfield.
Alice Burke was another to push her case for a second chance at senior level this season, contributing some typically hard work in the engine room for the Saints. Fellow first year Saint Renee Saulitis kicked a goal as she dropped down to state league level, while mature-age recruit Rebecca Ott suffered a leg injury in the first half.
In Casey’s loss to Essendon on Saturday, 2020 Melbourne draftee Maggie Caris was impressive for the Demons. She earned votes for the second week running for her role in the ruck, though the Dees’ senior tall stocks will be difficult to crack. Fellow first year player Megan Fitzsimon booted a goal rotating forward through midfield, while Mietta Kendall proved lively up the other end of the ground.
North Melbourne notched its maiden VFLW win since breaking from the Melbourne Uni Blues mould, defeating the Western Bulldogs by 21 points at Whitten Oval. Young Roos prospect Alice O’Loughlin snagged three goals to account for nearly half of her side’s score, as the likes of Katelyn Cox and Bethany Lynch earned votes for their efforts in midfield.
Britney Gutknecht was again terrific for the Bulldogs despite the result not going their way, as fellow Northern Knights graduate Nell Morris-Dalton was the lone senior-listed pup to hit the scoreboard. A bunch of up-and-coming Bulldogs are working towards call-ups, including father-daughter recruit Isabella Grant and Amelia van Oosterwijck.
The final game of the round saw league newcomer, Port Melbourne continue its perfect start to VFLW life with a 44-point win over Carlton. Richmond-listed forward Emily Harley was dominant early and booted two majors in a physical display, with fellow Tigers Luka Lesosky-Hay and Sarah Sansonetti kicking goals, too. Laura McClelland was also superb for the Borough.
Experienced defender Jess Edwards dropped down to the reserves level to good effect for Carlton, initially as part of an besieged defence and eventually through midfield. She was the lone senior-listed Blue to feature in the votes, while Winnie Laing was a late out and instead ran laps.