Tag: aflwu19s

Fast learning Lakay takes her game to new heights

AMONG the many code-jumping athletes gunning for the height of women’s football is Swan Districts ruck Sarah Lakay, one of Western Australia’s 15 National Combine invitees in 2021. The 186cm prospect has taken to Australian football with aplomb since crossing from basketball, rising from a local club which “lost every game”, to becoming a key part of her state’s Under 19 championships squad.

“My friend invited me to go down and play down at my local footy club,” Lakay recounted. “It was me in the ruck, my friend who was a rover, and my little sister. “It was a small footy club at the time, we lost every game but I loved it, I fell in love with it instantly… from there I’ve only played club level footy up until this year. “This year I decided to try get into the state team and here I am.”

There has been plenty of learning along the way for Lakay, who has adapted on the job against quality opposition. Having cracked the senior WAFLW grade, her first assignment at the Under 19 carnival was to go head-to-head with South Australian ruck, Zoe Prowse, arguably the best pure ruck in this year’s draft pool.

“Playing [South Australia] was awesome,” Lakay said. “It was a good wake-up call for me because obviously the other ruck was really good, so that challenged me and I was like ‘okay, these are some things I need to work on’. She contested with me really well.

“I had to work on my fitness, getting around the ball and I think I definitely improved on that [in the next] game. “I think in terms of ruckwork I need to work on going up and using my knee as well. “Obviously coming from a basketball point of view I’m used to jumping straight up and not really using my knee to get up and propel myself to get up to the ruck taps.”

The hands-on learning curve has not only helped Lakay identify areas of growth, but also what her key strengths are. She humbly put down her “mind-blowing” selection in this year’s state team to a “significant advantage” in height, but Lakay’s athleticism and contested marking ability have her pegged as a versatile tall talent.

“My height and my overhead grabs [are key strengths],” she said. “I can take a few good marks overhead, and I think that my ruck work is actually really good – being able to tap it directly to people and getting over people with my jump and reach to get it down to the rovers.”

With two AFL Women’s teams in her home state, there are plenty of current top level players to look up to. There are arguably few better for a young key position player to idolise than Fremantle’s Mim Strom.

“I’ve been watching the football more recently, especially AFLW football and Mim Strom is a definite standout,” Lakay said. “She’s in the position where she wasn’t first pick, but she’s just worked really hard to be where she is now and she’s doing amazing now, so I look up to her a lot.”

As far as her own journey and goals, the 18-year-old simply wants to become “the best player [she] can be.”

“Let’s see how far that takes me,” she said. “I definitely want to play AFLW and if that is what I accomplish, that’ll be so awesome.”

Versatile Parish thrives on physicality

WHEN asked of the key traits she wanted to present at the AFL Women’s Under 19 National Championships, the answer was pretty straightforward and ominous for Jamie Parish.

“Definitely my physicality,” Parish said. “I love bumping, hitting, shepherding.”

The versatile Woodville-West Torrens talent has enjoyed a swift journey into the South Australian talent pathway, crossing from other codes and being thrust into the SANFL Women’s system.

“I started off as a basketballer and a netballer,” she said. “I ended up having to fill in for a local club, I played one game and they were like ‘why don’t you give SANFL a try?’… so then I basically hopped straight into the SANFL, played a couple of years and ended up playing state.”

Parish described her 2021 state league form as “up and down”, but is enjoying the “learnings” of being tested in a variety of roles. Having cut her teeth as a key defender, the 171cm prospect was also thrust into the middle at the National Championships and can even swing forward or provide a handy ruck fold.

“(My coaches) are playing me in a lot of new positions and not just keeping me down back, so that’s been really good.” she said. “I am a key defender but I have been swapping through the midfield recently. “Hopefully I get a run in the midfield but it really just comes down to game day, because sometimes they’ll chuck me up forward as well, so who knows.”

While the 17-year-old was a mainstay throughout the Eagles’ SANFLW campaign, she was restricted to two of a possible three state representative games. Parish took on Western Australia in game one and was “pretty happy” with her performance, before returning for game three against the Allies down in Victoria, after being isolated due to COVID-19 precautions as her side battled Vic Country.

Parish looks up to the likes of Adelaide women’s captain Chelsea Randall and Western Bulldogs superstar Marcus Bontempelli, who she said are “hard at it and great players (she) always looks up to”. Boasting a similar competitive edge and the ability to play on multiple lines, Parish is also clean by hand in tough situations like her two idols. On the flip side, she says she is “motivated” to keep improving her fitness.

In true impartial fashion, the South Australian supports both Adelaide and Port Adelaide in the men’s AFL competition, while backing “all of them” in the women’s league. With expansion continuing at the top flight, there will be greater opportunities for developing prospects like Parish to crack the elite level and potentially run out alongside those she cheers on.

Outside of football, the current Year 12 student says she is one who “enjoys the sunshine”.

“Other than that, I’m just a casual sleep in until 12 o’clock and think about doing something sort,” she said.

Zreika an “inspiration” for fast-rising Whelan

GREATER Western Sydney (GWS) GIANTS Academy member Jess Whelan doesn’t have to look far for inspiration as she powers through her footballing journey. In the same charcoal and orange colours she donned this year during a one-game NAB League Girls stint, a top-flight gem has already paved a path worth following.

That gem is Haneen Zreika, a zippy GIANTS midfielder whose journey to the AFLW skipped through a couple of codes – much like Whelan is currently emulating.

“(Zreika) is an inspiration,” Whelan said. “Probably because she played Rugby League and AFL as well, which is similar to me.”

The 18-year-old says “positional play” and “tackling” are just a couple of the skills she has transferred from one sport to the other, making the transition that bit easier. For a prospect who only started out in Australian football “a few years ago”, she has made significant strides throughout the pathway – representing the Eastern Allies thrice in 2019, before turning out for the Allies this year.

“I played a year and then got picked to play (NSW-ACT) Rams,” she said. “I did that and then got into the Eastern Allies squad that year as well, then Covid hit the next year and now I’m with the Allies.”

In a slightly different mix to Whelan’s Eastern Allies experience, the 2021 Allies squad was comprised of players from NSW-ACT, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory. Whelan was one of eight GIANTS Academy members to be included in the 24-player squad.

“(The Allies experience) has been pretty good,” she said. “I’m getting along with a lot of the Tassie girls and it’s good just to meet people across Australia and see their different ways and how their footy’s going.”

Whelan, a 175cm winger also collected 15 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and a goal as the GIANTS Academy defeated Murray Bushrangers in Round 6 of this year’s NAB League Girls competition. She was able to showcase a couple of her core strengths in that outing, with the key ones she identified being kicking and her running capacity on the wing.

While kicking on one foot is a strength, Whelan is working on becoming a more dual-sided player as she makes her left-sided kicking “more precise.”

As far as her footballing goals go, the youngster is keeping them relatively simple. Having come so far already in a short span of time, she says the end goal is to “try and get as far as (she) can.”

Draft Central go behind the scenes at the 2021 AFLW U19s Championships

DRAFT Central is excited to bring you some behind the scenes content from the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships in the form of player features from across the nation, having completed interviews with South Australia, Western Australia and the Allies in the past week. Around 50 of the brightest young talents will have features coming out of the championships, with more to come as the year goes on.

Having previously compiled more than 100 written features on the future talent of the AFL Women’s and state league competitions each year over the past couple of years, Draft Central will once again reach the benchmark. In the preseason, we chatted to a host of Victorian and Tasmanian talent at the Preseason Testing events in their respective states, and completed YouTube videos which can be viewed via the Draft Central YouTube channel.

Western Australia’s midfield dynamo Courtney Rowley chatting to Draft Central.

Having chatted to players across the non-Victorian and Tasmanian states, keep an eye out on the YouTube channel – and over the coming months as interviews from players filter out, accompanied by written features. This will provide audiences with the ability to not only read what the future talent has to say, but also see it in their own words. The AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships will continue on next month with the Victorian teams to face off against Queensland, and the most northern state in Australia will not be forgotten either, with player features to come from the Sunshine State.

Sydney Swans Academy captain and Allies talent Jess Doyle chatting to Draft Central.

Alongside those features, there will be plenty of content around the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, and the state leagues across the country as they continue post-championships. With the NAB League Girls finals series getting underway, Draft Central is your one-stop shop for everything women’s football. Make sure you are following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for notifications and all the fantastic content coming up.

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Woomera too strong for brave Medleys

IN a closely fought battle, the Woomeras proved too good in their clash against the Medleys in the AFLW U19 Championships at Avalon Airport Oval in Werribee. The Woomeras led for majority of the day, but the win was anything but easy, as the Medleys fought hard to keep themselves in the game but couldn’t compete with the Woomeras’ fast ball movement and forward-line pressure.

The first quarter was a hotly contested battle, with both sides applying constant pressure and not allowing their opponents to find space to move the ball. With both teams scoring early goals, a Jemmika Douglas goal on the run broke the scoring drought heading into quarter time. The second quarter saw a much more open game of football, with both sides attempting to use their running defenders to rebound the ball out of each other’s 50. The Woomeras locked the ball in their 50 for the first half of the quarter, as they managed to keep it in there long enough for Jennelle Feifar to kick a crafty goal from the top of the goal square as the game started to get away from the Medleys. This didn’t last long though, as the Medleys lifted following the goal, and attacked from their defensive 50 and began to take the game on. A brilliant run-down tackle from Ella Tyson on the wing summed up their lift in effort, and she converted the goal after receiving a 50m penalty. At half time, the Woomeras lead had been brought back down to four points in what was proving to be a thrilling contest.

The third quarter belonged to the Woomeras for the most part, as they dominated possession of the footy but couldn’t fully capitalise on the scoreboard. The highlight of the game came at the start of the third term, as Douglas gathered the ball at the 50 and snapped the ball around her body, and with a kind bounce came the goal of the day. It kicked off a stunning quarter of football from the Woomeras as they locked the ball inside their half and continuously gave themselves shots on goal. Their only blemish came in the form of inaccuracy as they kicked 2.4 for the quarter, giving the Medleys hope heading into the last. This hope continued as the Medleys kicked the first goal of the quarter through Tunisha Kikoak to reduce the margin to eight points early in the final quarter.

For most of the last quarter it was a close affair, with neither team dominating control of the ball or kicking away on the scoreboard as the margin remained around the 10-point mark. A goal to Kyanne Campbell sealed the win for the Woomeras with less than five minutes. Despite the loss, the Medleys saw a highlight when Ammie Vamah flew for a big pack mark 20 metres out from goal. Vamah – who had been taken off the ground injured earlier in the quarter – hurt her leg while landing, but despite the pain, settled and kicked the goal to give the Medleys a glimmer of hope. It was a moment that was sure to put a smile on the face of everyone watching. The Woomeras would run out eight-point winners in a well-deserved victory.

For the Woomeras, Douglas’ two goals were crucial for the victory, while Montanna Bevis found plenty of the ball, particularly in the first half. In a positive sign, there weren’t too many standout performances with plenty of strong contributors across the ground. For the Medleys, Tyson was terrific, popping up everywhere to drive her team forward. She was well assisted by Anna Edwards, who was a real stand out in the first half. Laiema Bosenavulagi worked hard all day to provide run out of the backline.

WOOMERAS 2.0 | 3.0 | 5.4 | 6.6 (42)
MEDLEYS 1.0 | 2.2 | 3.2 | 5.4 (34)

GOALS:
Woomeras: J. Douglas 2, J. Feifar, A. Michael, K. Campbell
Medleys: E. Tyson, P. Baptiste, T. Kikoak, A. Vamah

BEST:
Woomeras: M. Bevis, J. Douglas, K. Campbell, S. Purton
Medleys: E. Tyson, A. Edwards, L. Bosenavulagi, P. Baptiste

Scott boots last three goals to steal game for Vic Country

ROUND 2 of the AFLW U19s National Championships was opened up with an exciting contest between South Australia and Victoria Country at Avalon Airport Oval in Werribee, with the midfield battle being an essential part of the eventual Country victory. Forward half efficiency initially evaded Country, never having any more goals than points, but the repeated entries became too much for SA to deal with, as bottom-aged forward Paige Scott decided to win the game off her own boot, leading to the 5.6 (36) to 3.3 (21).

The first quarter was a strong start for South Australia, with a lot of drive being produced from their engine room with Zoe Prowse and Lauren Young combining well as a ruck and rover duo to win plenty of it from stoppages, with their hard-work rewarded by teammates Lauren Breguet and Lauren Clifton with clinical finishing in front of goal. For Country, the efforts of Elizabeth Snell and Grace McRae saw them involved in plenty early on, and slowly get on top as the quarter went on, with Country getting a goal through co-captain Tara Slender, with three more shots on goal drifting just wide, seeing SA lead at quarter time 2.0 (12) to 1.3 (9).

The second quarter felt like much more of an arm wrestle, with neither team getting many deep inside 50s. Jade Halfpenny took advantage of one of the few that South Australia got, running onto a loose ball early in the quarter, fending off an opponent and then dribbling from the outside of her boot to kick SA’s solitary goal for the quarter. Keeley Kustermann started to win more of the ball in the midfield as well, linking up with the likes of Laitiah Hunyh and Brooke Tonon for some nice passages of play. Country had Nyakoat Dojiok and Jaide Anthony to thank for a sound defensive effort, both being strong aerially players and providing plenty of run going forward, with Dojiok delivering a lovely kick to Renee Tierney in the goal square to kick Country’s only goal, seeing the quarter end 3.0 (18) to 2.5 (17) SA’s way.

The third term was a bit of a breakout quarter from County, with their bottom-aged star forward Paige Scott, coming off a two goal performance against Vic Metro, kicking two solid goals, with one in particular involving her out running an opponent to belt it through. Her teammate on the wing, Aurora Smith, also had a good quarter, with her work through traffic being a highlight. South Australia saw Zoe Venning have good moments as well, competing strongly in stoppages and at ground level, but also being damaging in the air. Rotating ruck Amelie Borg was strong as a kick-behind defender, troubling Country talls. The quarter ended 4.5 (29) to 3.3 (21) with Country leading.

Early on in the fourth term, South Australian midfielder Brooke Tonon tackled Anthony on the wing with the latter unfortunately having to be stretchered from the ground and Tonon subsequently red carded from it, with Slender also sent off with a yellow card later on for a late high hit on an opponent. Despite these unfortunate incidents, the final quarter gave us a fairly exciting finish, with Scott getting herself a third early on. South Australia went on to control a lot of the play for the rest of the quarter, with the two standouts Prowse and Young continuing to do all they could to get SA across the line, and Charlotte Dolan applying elite pressure in the forward half.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA 2.0 | 3.0 | 3.3 | 3.3 (21)
VIC COUNTRY 1.3 | 2.5 | 4.5 | 5.6 (36)

GOALS

South Australia: L. Breuguet, L. Clifton, J. Halfpenny.
Victoria Country:
P. Scott 3, T. Slender, R. Tierney.

ADC BEST

South Australia: Z. Prowse, L. Young, K. Kustermann, Z. Venning, L. Huynh
Victory Country:
P. Scott, A. Smith, N. Dojiok, G. McRae, E. Snell

South Australia wins thriller in opening AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships match

SOUTH Australia has held off a determined Western Australia by six points in the opening game of the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships on Sunday. The two states clashed in perfect conditions at Flinders University Stadium, and given the teams boasted strong defences, it was no surprise to see the match was a low-scoring slog, but one that provided plenty of highlights. After getting out to a two-goal lead in the second term and then again midway through the last, South Australia could never quite shake the Sandgropers until the final siren, winning 3.5 (23) to 2.5 (17).

Indeed, even the final kick of the day – a quick siren-beating snap from Melisha Hardy – threatened to change the script, though it ended up falling short in her bid to level the scores on the buzzer. More than once it looked like South Australia had the game on its terms, but the West Australians refused to give in, and the defence held up against fierce pressure, with their counterparts down the other end doing the same when forwards had golden opportunities.

Lauren Clifton opened the scoring five and a half minutes into the match after a great Georgia Swan pass, with WA missing a couple of chances through Ella Roberts and Jaide Britton. Roberts would end up having plenty of chances throughout the day, with three attempted shots on target marked in the goalsquare or on the goal line.

When a coach-killing turnover from a rushed kick in the back pocket found an uncontested Gypsy Schirmer 25 metres out straight in front, the AFL Women’s Academy member made it two from two for the home club South Adelaide, and then kicked a behind on the run five minutes later for the Croweaters to be out by 11 points late in the quarter. East Fremantle’s Chloe Reilly saved the day with a goal from a turnover herself, converting the set shot a few minutes out from half-time and cutting the deficit to five points at the main break.

The third term was an armwrestle with neither team able to put one through the big sticks. The home crowd was getting animated at some of the 50/50 calls going the way of the visitors, and when Laitiah Huynh‘s quick hands to Clifton in the goalsquare was deemed a throw, the grandstand was up and about at the missed opportunity. There were run-down tackles galore through the match, including a huge one from Beth Schilling on Sarah Branford, which even eclipsed Roberts’ effort in the first term on Tamsyn Morriss running into goal.

South Australia had the early momentum in the fourth term, peppering the goals with some flying shots from Alana Lishmund, Lauren Breguet, Jade Halfpenny and Huynh who all tried their luck. That was until the play of the day, from defence to attack, starting with Brooke Tonon, involving Julia Clark, Charlotte Dolan, Swan and then Keeley Kustermann on the end of the chain. The West Adelaide bottom-ager made no mistake with the set shot goal, converting the major and handing her side what looked to be a match-winning 11-point lead.

Roberts had other ideas however. A freakish snap from the pocket four minutes later – which many could not believe – bounced on a right angle and through the goals. However she had multiple shots that were identical earlier in the match, but this time the goalkeepers in Alex Ballard and Jamie Parish were not there to stop her. A Huynh behind made it six points with four minutes on the clock, and tensions both on and off the field were high.

The Peel Thunder tall in Roberts was marking everything late in the game, then even roved Zoe Prowse‘s tap and kicked towards the square to try and kick her second, but Parish was there to mop it up again. The final minute saw a clever play from Schirmer, aware her frustrated opponent was going to knock into her back late made sure it was a 50-metre penalty and chewed more time off the clock. When Prowse bombed it inside 50 up the other end with 30 seconds left, many were ready to celebrate.

This time, it was Makaela Tuhakaraina who had other ideas. Having played a solid game on debut for her state in the code, the South Fremantle elite speedster just burned through the defence, taking a couple of bounces and weaved her way to the middle, amazing even the South Australian fans. She hit up captain Britton who put the ball towards Roberts and the quick snap inside 50 – after a momentary fumble – went to Hardy who snapped a second before the siren sounded, but it went high and wide, not getting enough distance or penetration on the kick to level the scores.

Picking best players across both sides was near impossible, with Prowse being outstanding in the ruck, Huynh great up forward, particularly in the first half, and Zoe Venning and Kustermann clean around the ball. Halfpenny kept being a thorn in the opposition’s side, whilst Ballard, Hannah Prenzler and Brooke Tonon all drove the ball out of the defensive 50 time and time again.

For the losers, Roberts was hard to miss with her game-breaking ability, but her Peel Thunder teammates in Schilling, Courtney Rowley and Britton were all solid across four quarters. Matilda Dyke on the last line intercepted plenty of footy, while Tara Stribley created some run and carry on the outside, and Emily Bennett was terrific at half-back.

All in all, both sides would have plenty to take out of the game and will be well prepared to head to Queensland in a fortnight where South Australia takes on the home state and the Allies, while Western Australia faces both Vic Country and Vic Metro.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.1 | 2.2 | 2.2 | 3.5 (23)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.5 (17)

GOALS:

South Australia: L. Clifton, G. Schirmer, K. Kustermann.
Western Australia: C. Reilly, E. Roberts.

DC BEST:

South Australia: Z. Prowse, L. Huynh, Z. Venning, A. Ballard, H. Prenzler, G. Schirmer
Western Australia: E. Roberts, B. Schilling, C. Rowley, J. Britton, M. Dyke, E. Bennett