2022 AFLW early look: West Coast

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is West Coast, who finished 12th overall with two wins for the season, narrowly getting past Gold Coast (one point) and then smashing Geelong (39 points) to rightfully sit above those teams on the table.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 12th
Wins: 2
Losses: 7
Draws: 0
Points For: 229 (12th)
Points Against: 432 (13th)

West Coast managed to move the equivalent one spot higher than their 2020 Conference wooden spoon, walking away with a 12th placed finish in 2021. They had a number of talents continue their rise in tandem with the side, lead by young gun Mikayla Bowen who took out the club’s best and fairest award. After Hayley Bullas won the leading goalkicker award in 2020 with a measly two goals, Grace Kelly became a consistent source of scores with seven for the season, though the West Australian side will be looking for more in 2022 in order to rise up the ladder. Losing star midfielder Dana Hooker to injury certainly did not help the Eagles’ cause either.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Evie Gooch (Fremantle), Aimee Schmidt (GWS), Charlie Thomas (Subiaco), Courtney Rowley, Beth Schilling (Peel Thunder), Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts), Emily Bennett (Claremont)
Outs: Mhicca Carter, Beatrice Devlyn, McKenzie Dowrick, Brianna Green, Alicia Janz, Demi Liddle, Julie-Anne Norrish, Kate Orme, Chantella Perera, Katelyn Pope (delisted)

Inactive: Nil.

West Coast had plenty of list turnover through the AFLW Draft, with a focus on bringing in the most talented teenagers they could. Whilst the Dockers balanced between youth and experience for their draft selections, the Eagles went straight to replenish the youth, with a key focus on class and height, which were areas that the young West Australian side lacked throughout the 2021 AFLW season. They delisted 10 players at the end of the season, with a number of first-year experienced players amongst them. In the process, the Eagles picked up Dockers talent Evie Gooch to assist with some replenishment of experience, whilst the GIANTS’ Aimee Schmidt made the cross-county trip to run out with the blue and gold. Then, the Eagles headed to the draft with three of the first four selections, and wrapping up their picks midway through Fremantle’s draft haul, giving them best chance to select top-end talents. Despite only playing one game for the year, Subiaco’s Charlotte Thomas was plucked out with the Eagles’ first selection, and then was joined by fellow AFLW Academy member Courtney Rowley. Both provide class and skill around the ground, as well as crucial versatility. Tall timber Sarah Lakay and Beth Schilling are contested marking options and athletic players around the ground, while Emily Bennett is a tough defender with great natural footballing ability.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Ashlee Atkins
Emily Bennett
Mikayla Bowen
Tayla Bresland
Hayley Bullas
Imahra Cameron
Melissa Caulfield
Maddy Collier
Shanae Davison
Lauren Gauci
Kellie Gibson
Andrea Gilmore
Evie Gooch
Courtney Guard
Ashton Hill
Dana Hooker
Grace Kelly
Niamh Kelly
Sarah Lakay
Parris Laurie
Bella Lewis
Aisling McCarthy
Sophie McDonald
Courtney Rowley
Beth Schilling
Aimee Schmidt
Belinda Smith
Emma Swanson
Charlie Thomas
Amber Ward

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • How much can the elite youth drive the Eagles up the ladder in 2022?
  • How will West Coast limit the opposition from scoring moreso than last season?
  • Where will Courtney Rowley be utilised? Inside, outside or on a flank at either end?

PREDICTION:

West Coast are still a little way off competing for an AFLW flag, but are on the right track and the youth the Eagles have assembled over the last few years will be ready to stand up against quality opposition more and more. If they can reduce the damage and apply more potency on the scoreboard in 2022, then they will provide hope for future seasons. The Eagles should be an exciting team, lead by the five first-year teenagers walking into the club who will immediately provide a boost for the West Australian team.

Picture credit: (Retrieved from) West Coast FC

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