THE Oakleigh Chargers often had to change their side throughout the season, due to school commitments, injuries and rotation. But this enabled plenty of players to get a chance to experience football at TAC Cup Girls level. Despite only three wins for the season, two were by massive margins and the other was a tough slog near the end of the season.
R1: defeated Gippsland Power by 67 points
R2: lost to Sandringham Dragons by 33 points
R3: lost to Eastern Ranges by 28 points
R4: lost to Geelong Falcons by 70 points
R5: lost to Northern Knights by 51 points
R6: defeated Bendigo Pioneers by 67 points
R7: lost to Dandenong Stingrays by 28 points
R8: defeated Western Jets by 15 points
R9: lost to Greater Western Victoria Rebels by 25 points
Hannah McLaren: The Oakleigh captain led by example throughout the season with aggressive tackling, clean hands and good ball-use in general. McLaren is also a strong marker of the footy, as she could intercept and control the play for her side. She could play anywhere throughout the season, often playing behind the ball to counteract opposition scoring. Her best work was arguably done in the midfield, where she would burrow into contests and also provide good run on the outside to assist her teammates. She is currently playing for Vic Metro in the AFL Women’s U18 National Championships.
Gemma Lagioia: Lagioia often worked in tandem with McLaren to put pressure on the opposition midfield, tackling hard and winning the ground balls. She demonstrated a high footy IQ throughout the season, reading the play well and taking some nice intercept marks. Her long kick was crucial, as it gave her teammates chances to create scoring opportunities. Lagioia showed consistent hunger for the footy, demonstrated by her ability to go hard at the footy and win it cleanly.
Daisy Bateman: Bateman was an exciting forward who came equal second in the TAC Cup Girls goal kicking tally. She had the highest average of the season, averaging two goals per game to register 14 goals from seven games. The highlight of her season was when she kicked five majors against the Bendigo Pioneers, being her dominant self inside 50. Bateman often demonstrated strong hands and her positioning inside 50 was outstanding. Her forward pressure was an asset of her game as was her ball movement. She booted a goal in Vic Metro’s first game of the AFL Women’s National Championships, getting her Nationals campaign off to a good start.
Bridie Winbanks: Was not only a standout ruck for the Chargers, but was also a standout in the competition. Winbanks did well aerially to win the ball and also fought hard for the ground ball, showing constant fight to win the footy. She was able to tackle hard and used her long kick to get her teammates out of trouble. She has already had an opportunity to feature in Essendon’s VFLW side, competing hard in the ruck in new colours. Winbanks also made the AFL Draft Central Team of the Year, which was reward for a consistent year in the ruck.
Katie Lynch: Lynch was a game-changer for the Chargers when she had the opportunity to play, often dominating through the midfield. Her strong hands were a huge asset in her game, as she was able to intercept or mark overhead which helped to open up play for her teammates. Her long kick can clear the ball out of congestion while her tackling is fierce and can give opposition midfields headaches. Lynch had a blistering start to the AFL Women’s National Under 18 Championships, displaying her eite ball use and high footy IQ which we became so accustomed to seeing during the season.
A three-win season would not dishearten the Chargers, as they got the opportunity to unveil some wonderful young talent that will hold them in good stead for years to come. With just two of its six losses being over 50 points, it shows that Oakleigh have been able to keep in the contest for the majority of its games. With players like Alana Porter, Nicola Xenos and Alice O’Loughlin playing exciting footy and the side having a solid connection with Collingwood, the Chargers have a bright future ahead of them.