ROUND 8 saw some big clashes with the Northern Knights handing the Geelong Falcons their first loss in two years in the NAB League Girls. We took note of some of the top performers that respective Female Talent Managers highlighted at the start of the season as ones to watch. We attended five games live and noted the final game at the bottom. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.
Calder Cannons 4.6 (30) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 1.3 (9)
By: Taylah Melki
#2 Felicity Theodore
She had a relatively quiet first half, not finding much of the footy but well and truly worked her way into the game in the second half. She kicked a good crumbing goal in the third after picking the ball up out the back of the pack and taking a couple of steps to dribble it through for a goal. Theodore also showcased her good vision and attacking mind set to push her side forward.
#21 Georgia Patrikios
She was involved early, getting hands to the ball at the stoppages and showing good spatial awareness to dish the ball out to teammates. She had good strong hands to take a solid grab in the first quarter and showcased her ability to read the play. Patrikios consistently attacked the ball hard, sets up play for her teammates and had really good hands. She showed great control of the ball while on the run and kicked a good crumbing goal in the third quarter to stay down and cleanly pick the ball up and then turn and kick. She used her long booming kick to propel the ball into the forward 50 and knew where to position the ball to her teammates advantage. She was clean around the stoppages working hard to extract the footy and ran hard both ways making her presence felt across the field.
#31 Krstel Petrevski
After a quiet start Petrevski came alive in the second half. She had a good passage of play receiving a handball and steaming forward to kick to a teammate in the third term and used her booming kick to move the ball forward on multiple occasions. Her hands in close were also impressive and applied strong pressure across the ground. She was creative with ball in hand and worked hard to move the ball into an attacking position throughout the game.
#41 Georgie Prespakis
Prespakis continued her dominant form and seemed to have plenty of time and space with ball in hand. Her ability to sidestep her opponents and then dish it off to a teammate was second to none and she consistently pushed hard to create attacking options. She showed good courage to go back with the flight of the ball while second efforts were impressive working hard to try and win the ball back for her side. Prespakis never seemed far from the footy winning plenty of it both at the coalface and across the ground for the Cannons. She read the tap out of the ruck exceptionally well, used her beautiful long booming kick to her sides advantage and provided repeat entries into forward 50. Won a heap of the ball in the third and had an impressive passage of play with a tunnel ball handball while getting tackled out to a teammate in space.
#1 Maeve Tupper
Tried hard throughout the game to impact the contest. Good read of the flight of the ball to take a big intercept mark in the middle of the ground and propel her team forward, good smother in the second quarter showcasing her ability to track the ball and apply strong defensive pressure on the ball carrier.
#3 Elizabeth Snell
Good clean grab of the footy and pushed hard to move the ball forward. She showed some good evasive skills to break free at the contest and go forward. Snell displayed good vision to hit up teammates in space and identify passages of play. She was not afraid to put her body on the line and go for a big mark against her taller opponent and tried hard throughout game to keep her side in it. She also used her body well around the stoppages to try and out manoeuvre her opponent and get free.
#4 Brooke Hards
Made an impact from the get go, tackling hard and was ferocious at the contest. Good read of the flight of the ball and took an intercept mark showcasing her strength. Hards had clean hands at ground level to crumb and then pass it off and tracked the ball well at ground level. She was strong in the contest not afraid to put her body on the line and take a bump. She kept her arms free and dished off a clever handball to a teammate in a better position in the second term credit to her spatial awareness and general footy smarts. Hards also laid some good strong tackles throughout the game.
#19 Jemma Finning
Good lead up at the footy, and well weighted kick to an opponent on the lead in the forward 50 in the first quarter. Her second efforts were good, worked hard to win the ball and had good support run to provide an option for her teammates. She got busy in the second quarter around the contest and was strong to push off an opponent and maintain possession. Finning used her booming kick to propel the ball forward and keep the ball moving in attack.
Dandenong Stingrays 6.4 (40) defeated Murray Bushrangers 3.9 (27)
By: Peter Williams
#10 Abbey Jordan
Played on a wing and had some nice plays throughout the game, putting pressure on defenders at half-forward and also getting back to assist at half-back. On a number of occasions, she was able to nullify contests through a quick kick before being tackled or bumped, or was able to impact opposition players while in possession, forcing mistakes.
#12 Molly McDonald
The captain played on the ball and provided good strength at ground level. She continually put her body on the line and while a lot of the good work she did would not find its way onto a stats sheet, her defensive pressure and one percenters were very impressive. She is a team-orientated player and showed good vision on the inside to find teammates free on the outside.
#26 Isabella Shannon
Kicked an important goal in the third term when they needed it, and roamed around the forward half, playing midfield and inside 50. She exited stoppages well, moving around opposition players and was able to get boot to ball while being brought down in tackles. After kicking the goal, Shannon won the next clearance from the midfield and put it inside 50 to a teammates’ advantage.
#28 Tyanna Smith
Smith stood up when it counted late, turning it on with a great running clearance late in the final term, then booted the winning goal coming out of a forward stoppage on the run, negotiating the breeze perfectly. Still had moments of strength and grace throughout the game, but it was the last quarter which stood out.
#31 Brooke Vernon
Played her reliable game in defence, tasked with the kick-outs and pushing up the ground when required. She was able to have a number of forward 50 entries when going inside, and also ran hard to lay a good tackle on the last line of defence in the third term to force a throw-in and save a potential goal.
#51 Zoe Hill
Often rebounded and pushed up the ground to provide an extra number at a contest at half-back. Hill won a number of free kicks for her fierce tackling and was composed under pressure in the back half.
#6 Chelsea Hargreaves
The NSW/ACT representative played in defence and was able to move the ball quickly in transition. She showed a nice few quick steps before clearing the ball long and was able to get through a couple of players backing herself in, late in the game but her handball was intercepted. It was still promising to see her take the game on, which she tried to do with another strong run and kick out of defence going long down the field.
#7 Kate Adams
Played a pressure role through the midfield and forward end, just doing team things but chasing opponents and forcing them to dispose of the ball quicker than they would have liked. She took a nice steady mark under pressure at half-back at one stage, and in another instance was able to win the ball at ground level, handball it off and then apply a shepherd for a teammate to run with it.
#8 Abby Favell
Had the ball on a string throughout the game, particularly in the first quarter. Just ran and ran all day long. Not only was her accumulation on point, but her defensive pressure was superb as well. She laid a great goal-saving tackle in the first term and while some of her kicks were intercepted, she followed up with strong second efforts and just kept running, bringing her teammates into the game through handballs. She forced a number of turnovers through her tackling, and also showed off a clean set of heels by sidestepping an opponent at half-back and taking off. Kicked a late goal in the final term after sneaking 20m out from goal, wasting no time slotting the set shot and bring the Bushrangers back within six points. Best afield despite being in a losing side.
#19 Millie Brown
Another standout player for the Bushrangers, what impressed me most about Brown’s game was her last term. While the defence was under siege she was able to maintain her composure and just keep it going forward. She intercepted a number of kicks inside defensive 50 and worked hard throughout the match to keep her team in the game. She would often bring a teammate into the play with one-two handballs, but her interceptions on the wing and long bombs inside 50 were among the crucial plays that kept the game alive for the visitors.
#45 Olivia Barber
Barber is a raw talent that once she can convert her opportunities into goals, it will make her an incredibly damaging. The tall forward works hard for her leads and creates space well, and can also clunk a lot of marks. She just missed some gettable shots, which is something that can be easily fixed, just adjusting the kicking style. Continues to impress and is one to watch as she develops, and more so her field kicking is also sound, so just ironing it out in front of goal.
Western Jets 3.3 (21) defeated Sandringham Dragons 1.3 (9)
By: Peter Williams
#13 Isabella Grant
Returning to the side, Grant rotated between forward and midfield, having a good battle with Sarah Hartwig early. Both players impressed with Grant winning the battle with her smarts at ground level, while Hartwig impressed with her ability in the air. Grant used her body well around the ground to knock opponents off the ball and give off quick handballs to teammates running by. In one instance in the second term she bumped an opponent away, picked up the ball, spun around and kicked long down the wing. In the third term she had a couple of shots on goal with one fading to the right and the next going to the opposite pocket out on the full. Overall had her moments through the midfield in transition.
#17 Elisabeth Georgostathis
The captain played her usual consistent game coming out of half-back, winning the ball at ground level and looking to run down the middle to get her team forward. She cracked in hard throughout four quarters and showed strength in tackles by getting her hands free. Led the team well and stepped up late in the game to nullify a few contests.
#23 Isabelle Pritchard
A standout for the Jets throughout the game, intercepting inside 50s at will, positioning herself well in marking contests and kicking long to midfield. She laid a goal-saving tackle at one stage close to the boundary line, earning herself a free. Pritchard won a number of free kicks as well for chopping of the arms or holding because of her dominance in defence. She weighed up between pushing up and dropping back, taking a couple of crucial marks late in the game to settle the team.
#25 Sarah Hartwig
The clear best for Sandringham on the day, Hartwig was ultra-impressive at centre half-back spending time on Isabella Grant and then other opponents while focusing maintaining her line. She copped a knock in the first term on the wing but got up and became one of the Dragons most influential players, winning a number of one-on-one contests by reading the ball in flight well. Such was her impact when she was taken off for a rest last in the third term, Western booted a goal. Had plenty of marks and rebounds as well as one percenters.
#28 Alice Burke
Hunted the football and while she did not win as much of it as she has before, she just kept getting her hands in at ground level and feeding the ball out to teammates. Won a free kick late in the game for being bumped high and kept cracking in with either tackles or hardball gets on the inside of the contest.
#42 Marguerite Purcell
Roamed along the wing and was another player who copped a hard bump early in the fourth term, but returned to play on. She moved well out of stoppages and was able to kick long down the middle, buzzing around the midfield and providing an option for her teammates to run and carry the ball forward.
Greater Western Victoria 3.2 (20) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 2.7 (19)
By: Peter Williams
#9 Renee Saulitis
Played a different role to her usual smart forward role many have become accustomed to, but still was able to use her smarts and foot skills to advantage. If anything, she was able to have a greater impact on the contest because of her footy IQ and ability to dish off the ball quickly under pressure. She uses the ball well and one of her best moments was actually a defensive one – laying a run-down tackle on Mimi Hill on the wing, earning a free kick.
#10 Ella Wood
Spent time off half-back and pushing up through the midfield, Wood was strong throughout the four quarters with her defensive work and hard running. She forced a number of turnovers and pushed up to win the ball and bring teammates into the game, working well with a one-two handball combination with a teammate on the wing in the second term as an example of where she was able to get the ball moving forward. Was involved in the final goal with good strength at the stoppage.
#24 Sophie Molan
Never plays a bad game and Molan just kept consistent throughout the four quarters, booting the opening goal of the game and winning the footy at will. She missed a snap on goal initially but made up for it with a goal on the run, and then spread around the ground providing good strength at ground level or in the air. Molan executed the perfect handball out of the stoppage to Lilli Condon for the winning goal in the final term.
#30 Nyakoat Dojiok
One of the Rebels best, providing run and carry across the ground from half-back to the wing. She primarily was stationed on the wing and was often used in transition. On some occasions she might have done a bit too much, but she was still able to get the ball free even when under pressure. Most promising sign was the fact she continually tried to break the lines and create something for the Rebels and her burst of speed worried the opposition. Also has quick hands and was able to dispose of the ball quickly when being tackled.
#35 Maggie Caris
Provided her midfielders with first hands more often than not continuing her good season. What separates Caris from many other rucks is her cleanliness at ground level, and her ability to control the ball once in her hands. She is a one-touch player and has a long kick that can hit targets.
#1 Gemma Lagioia
The silky midfielder showed off her slick skills primarily off half-back, winning the ball and then executing 45-degree kicks opening up angles and avenues for her team to go forward. While the game was scrappy at times, Lagioia was able to add a touch of class with her foot skills and hit-up targets repetitively and keep the ball moving. She was also not afraid to take the opposition on, sidestepping an opponent and kicking long to the wing in the second term.
#2 Mimi Hill
Worked hard for four quarters and was influential early pushing up the ground and getting some important inside 50s for her teammates. Provided an option in the back half of the ground, combining with Lagioia at one stage, getting the ball forward. Hill had a flying shot on goal in the second term but just missed to the right while on a tight angle.
#8 Alana Porter
One of Oakleigh’s best throughout and just missed out on finishing off in front of goal. Kicked a major from a set shot, but missed a couple of opportunities to add to her tally in the third term. Not only did Porter use her trademark burst of speed to good effect, but she also applied plenty of defensive pressure, laying some big tackles and bumps on opponents to force turnovers. When tackled herself, Porter stood up in tackles and was able to get her hands free.
Geelong Falcons 0.7 (7) defeated by Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro
#1 Elise Vella
It was not Vella’s most productive day as the Falcons struggled for goals, but the diminutive forward took on her usual role of creating pressure around the contest and looked dangerous forward of centre. Had a nice passage where she took her opponent on and carried the ball through the middle of the ground, and also spent some time in the midfield during the second half.
#8 Paige Sheppard
Was in the thick of everything early, proving Geelong’s most productive player at stoppages and in the game overall. Sheppard accumulated a good amount of ball and tried her best to push the Falcons forward, but often saw her kicks smothered or compensated for distance given the wealth of contested situations she found herself in. Was particularly impressed with her combativeness, and Sheppard looked unfazed in physical battles against much taller midfield opponents.
#12 Laura Gardiner
The middle-ager was outstanding in one of her better performances for the year, and was one of the few Falcons midfielders to show composure in heavy traffic. Often a damaging driver forward on the outside, Gardiner won a fair amount of the ball at stoppages around the ground and looked to weave her way out of trouble instead of blazing away. While that inevitably happened at times anyway, Gardiner has plenty of time to refine her already strong skill base.
#18 Darcy Moloney
Moloney was one who seemed to struggle at times amidst the Knights’ pressure around the ball, but dug in hard as she typically does. Could have had a better return had she not missed a tough snapped chance, with some of her second half minutes spent inside the forward 50. Was often swamped when in possession, but showed good strength in tackles trying to break away.
#21 Abbey Chapman
Chapman stood up in an under-siege defence, providing a cool head and cutting off as many Northern forward forays as she could. Showed her high-level reading of the play with a couple of nice intercept marks, and backed them up with neat kicks and sharp decision making. While the ball often came right back, Chapman was hardly beaten one-on-one despite Northern finding most of their goals from marks at close range.
#24 Mia Skinner
Often the leader of Geelong’s attack, Skinner was quelled well by Northern defender Sarah Sansonetti. Playing as a lead-up centre half-forward, Skinner’s effort could not be faulted as she worked her opponent over with runs up to the wing and then hard back towards goal. Missed a couple of difficult chances in the first half which would have really boosted Geelong’s chances of staying in the game, but is usually a clinical finisher.
#38 Lucy McEvoy
McEvoy was central to coach Jason Armistead’s heavy shuffling of the magnets – starting off half-back, moving into the midfield as the Knights got on top, and then being thrown forward at the start of the last term as Geelong looked to find her with the first clearance for a quick goal. Used her long and penetrating kick to good effect from defence to rebound, and played the role of a general well. Her overhead marking was also outstanding, and probably would have stood out more if it was not so expected of her. Most of them came as McEvoy positioned herself a kick off the ball when it was inside the Falcon’s forward arc, with her attempt against two Knights opponents in the second term the best of the lot. Continues to show she can play anywhere, and is a true leader in that sense as she can sacrifice her own game for the benefit of the team.
#39 Renee Tierney
Had some really impressive moments across the match, but was ultimately unable to find the goal as she often does. Her best chance was a stray snap, but a lot of her possessions were found up the ground as she looked to work with Skinner as a link forward. Tierney’s clean hands both overhead on leads and below her knees at speed were fantastic, and allowed the Falcons to create chances to move forward quickly with much of the game played in dispute. Showed good defensive intentions with a crunching tackle on Northern’s Gulia Ceravolo in the final term which unfortunately ended the match.
#3 Nell Morris-Dalton
Morris-Dalton was a force inside 50, playing one of her better games for the year. The key forward booted the first goal of the game after a one-on-one mark, setting the tone for a game where she intelligently found space inside 50 and worked hard to do so. A couple of impressive loose ball gets allowed Morris-Dalton to find Alyssa Bannan inside 50 just as impressively, and she picked out targets well to give Northern good looks at goal.
#6 Alyssa Bannan
Bannan was another Knight who proved dangerous in the forward half, and benefitted from the smart work of Morris-Dalton to combine for Northern’s second goal in the first term. Bannan was persistent around the contests early on and tackled hard, but proved most damaging when the ball was delivered to her over the back as she streamed forward and delivered inside 50. Could have added another goal in the third term but missed on the run in an otherwise impressive performance.
#14 Jess Fitzgerald
Like Bannan, Fitzgerald was fantastic going forward with lightning runs to set the Knights into attack. Seemed to be doing everything right early on with a neat kick and an overhead mark on the forward 50 arc both catching the eye. Fitzgerald continued her form in the second term with a clever passage to combine with Britney Gutknecht, and pressed to find the goals with multiple snaps from deep in the pocket either falling short or missing to the narrow side. She managed to find the big sticks in the third quarter with a set shot conversion, and her best moment came with a weaving break through three opponents through the middle of the ground to cap off a promising display.
#18 Sarah Sansonetti
Fulfilled one of the most important roles for the Knights, wearing Mia Skinner like a glove in a fantastic defensive effort. While her kicking at times was a little off, Sansonetti was hardly beaten one-on-one and looked a force in the air as she chimed in with spoils and contested marking attempts. In one of the best plays of the game, she laid a crunching bump on Paige Sheppard to force a spillage and followed up by winning the ball to the applause of her coaches on the bench.
#21 Ellie McKenzie
Named the Knights’ best on the day, and it is hardly any wonder why. McKenzie was a step above with her decision making and ability to remain composed on the ball, finding targets by hand and foot with ease. While constantly looking to wheel onto her left side could have sold her into trouble, McKenzie was good enough to bide her time and escape being caught. Playing through the midfield, perhaps the most pleasing part of McKenzie’s game was her physicality – as she laid a huge bump off the back of her own kick forward, as well as another on Poppy Schapp which unfortunately saw the diminutive Falcon forced off through injury. Scary to think McKeznie has another year left in the system, and showed she can dominate in the middle just as much as she does up forward.
#22 Britney Gutknecht
Employed in the midfield for much of the game, Gutknecht looked like having a big one after winning a running clearance at the very first centre bounce. While her output was slightly down across the day, Gutknecht had some good moments and managed to find the ball around the ground. She often looked to take the game on, but sometimes came unstuck in the back half when playing on after marks – which could be a product of her natural forward tendencies. Almost took a courageous mark late on, with the impressive effort catching the eye as the result was beyond doubt.
#23 Gabby Newton
Newton was productive as ever through the midfield, providing a point of difference in the frantic opening stages with calm use at the stoppages and impressive moves through traffic. Newton often handed the ball out effectively to her outside runners, and while she overdid it at times, was great to watch as others blazed away by foot. Much like McEvoy did for the Falcons, Newton positioned herself a kick off the play while the ball was disputed inside either 50 arc, taking a couple of high marks as she so often does. Newton’s understanding of the game was on full show in such positions, and she played a huge part in not allowing Geelong clean inside 50 entries.
In the other game over the weekend…
Gippsland Power 2.1 (13) defeated by Eastern Ranges 9.10 (64)
#8 Chandra Abrahams – Named in the best laying five tackles from eight disposals and continued her strong defensive pressure.
#9 Maddison Shaw – Again busy through the midfield and getting back in defence with 13 disposals, two rebounds and six tackles.
#12 Megan Fitzsimon – Named best by the Power for her 16 disposals, six tackles and four rebounds.
#26 Grace McRae – Had 17 disposals, two tackles and three rebounds in a hard working effort.
#26 Tarni Brown – Classy with 24 touches, eight tackles and seven inside 50s, pumping the ball long and setting up her teammates while finishing with a goal.
#33 Tess Flintoff – Returned and was impressive again with 21 touches, seven marks, four tackles and four inside 50s.
#39 Laura McClelland – Named among the best again with 12 disposals, two marks and five tackles in the win.
#46 Serena Gibbs – Had seven shots on goal, booting 3.4 from 18 disposals, six marks and six inside 50s, while also having five hitouts in the ruck in another impressive performance.