WITH so many impressive individuals performing across the NAB League Girls nine-week season, it was incredibly tough to pick our Draft Central Team of the Year for 2019. The Team of the Year is decided by the amount of Team of the Week nominations a player receives, with everyone in the team receiving between three and seven nominations for the year. There were a further 10 players who were unlucky to miss out on the team despite receiving three nominations, while another 18 players – 52 in total – received at least two nominations.
Three players received the highest amount of nominations, with Western Jets’ Elisabeth Georgostathis, Dandenong Stingrays’ Brooke Vernon and Calder Cannons’ Georgie Prespakis making our Team of the Week seven times. Georgostathis has been named captain of the side, having led the Jets in season 2019. Two other club captains – Geelong Falcons’ Lucy McEvoy and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Sophie Molan – as well as Falcons midfielder Paige Sheppard, received six nominations to make our 24-player squad.
It is a phenomenal effort to even have five nominations – more than half the possible games – and Sandringham Dragons duo, Sarah Hartwig and Alice Burke, Northern Knights duo Gabby Newton and Britney Gutknecht, Calder Cannons captain Georgia Patrikios, and Eastern Ranges tall Serena Gibbs all achieved that feat. In terms of those players with four nominations and thus automatically qualifying for the side are Stingrays’ key defender Zoe Hill, potential Collingwood father-daughter selection Tarni Brown, Gippsland Power defender Matilda Van Berkel, Murray Bushrangers’ captain Millie Brown, and Northern Knights middle-age duo Jess Fitzgerald and Ellie McKenzie.
Of the remaining six players chosen to make the side, there were Oakleigh Chargers duo Emily Harley and Gemma Lagioia, both of whom have been electrifying at times in an even team, top five leading goalkicker, Northern’s Nell Morris-Dalton, Geelong Falcons talls; competition leading goalkicker Mia Skinner and reliable defender Abbey Chapman, and Bendigo Pioneers tackling machine Brooke Hards. The emphasis for the remaining players with three nominations was to allow for top-agers to fill the side, but Hards’ efforts were that impressive – summed up by winning the Bendigo Pioneers’ Best and Fairest award – that she earned a spot in the side.
In terms of club spread, it is no surprise to see minor premiers Northern Knights with the most nominees, having five in the side, while reigning premiers Geelong Falcons had four. A number of sides had two each including finalists, Calder Cannons and Eastern Ranges, as well as Dandenong Stingrays, Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons, while Bendigo Pioneers, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets had one player each. In terms of the three emergencies, key defenders Kate Douglass (Bendigo) and Isabelle Pritchard (Western), and Murray midfielder Abby Favell were the next three in line for a spot in the team.
Eight players followed up from their Draft Central Team of the Year in 2018 with a second nomination, those being Knights, Newton, Gutknecht and McKenzie, as well as Georgostathis, Burke, McEvoy and Patrikios.