Tag: brianna hyde

2021 AFLW Under 18s Ones to Watch

NOW the curtain has closed on the 2020 AFL Women’s off-season period, we turn our attention to the next group of budding stars across the country who will be vying for a spot on an AFL Women’s list. We have named 25 players who have already shown some great signs in their bottom and middle-age seasons, as well as a number of others to watch out for in 2021.

Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A name that has been circulating for a number of years now, it is hard to believe the all-round talent was robbed of what she could potentially do in her middle-age year. She looked more than comfortable at the level in her bottom-age year as a 16-year-old and caught plenty of attention with a seven-goal haul against Greater Western Victoria Rebels. Taller than her sister – AFL Women’s league best and fairest winner Madison – Prespakis is hard at it, has great athleticism and is ridiculously strong one-on-one. A highlight-reel package nearly any time she steps out on the field, Prespakis is a future star and could play just about anywhere, but expect her to play inside midfield and rest forward.

Teagan Levi (Bond University/Queensland)

The sister of recently drafted Gold Coast Suns’ talent Maddison, Levi is 11cm shorter and plays onball rather than forward. Her athletic traits are similar to that of Georgia Patrikios in the way that she can seamlessly get herself out of trouble by wrong-footing and side-stepping opponents with ease. Not only is she able to beat them in congestion, she can run and take the game on down a wing, and then when the opponent wins it, she is the first to lay a strong tackle. Similar to Prespakis, Levi has so many weapons and is as effective defensively as she is offensively, and is the standout Queensland prospect for next year and in the clear top few talents running around.

Courtney Rowley. Picture credit: Owen Davies / Peel Thunder

Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

A player who has been building very nicely over in Western Australia over the past two seasons and then was the most impressive of the middle-agers in the WAFL All-Stars game. A really smooth mover, Rowley often plays off a wing and knows how to distribute the ball so well, winning Peel Thunder’s League best and fairest last year as a 16-year-old competing against senior opponents including AFL Women’s talents. Whilst she had more support in 2020 as the Thunder rose from wooden spooners to premiers in a remarkable turnaround, it is hard not to admire what the talented midfielder could be in her top-age season next year.

Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)

The standout ruck prospect in next year’s draft, Adelaide will have another promising talent on their radar in Prowse. Winning Sturt’s best and fairest award this year, Prowse was just about the best in nearly every game she played for the Double Blues, particularly in the second half of the season. Despite standing at just under 180cm, Prowse has ridiculous athleticism with a high vertical leap and is almost like a fourth midfielder. She can get down and apply second and third efforts to ground level players, and is one who could also play forward if required. With great ruck nous, she can outwork her opponents around the ground, and it was easy to see why she was the sole South Australian AFL Women’s Academy member in her middle-age year.

Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

An absolute star in the making. Capable of playing midfield or forward, Rowbottom just knows how to set scoring opportunities up in transition. The sister of Sydney’s James, Rowbottom has similar ball-winning abilities and defensive attributes, but has a lot to offer offensively as well. She showed in the Chargers’ win over Tasmania that she is not only able to hit the scoreboard herself – kicking two goals – but set up a number of chances for her teammates. One that will really surprise in 2021 as a leader for the Chargers.

Charlie Rowbottom. Picture credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

With quite a few tall defenders in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft, Slender would be putting her hand up as potentially the pick of the bunch. Her intercepting capability and reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and while she did miss her middle-age year, Slender is one who could catch the attention pretty quickly. Having played alongside some Vic Country representatives in the past – and playing at Under 16s level for her state – Slender is good in one-on-ones and looms as a key lynchpin for the Pioneers. It would also not be too surprising to see her take a similar transition to Isabelle Pritchard and move into the midfield given she has the traits to slot right in there.

Makaylah Appleby (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

Class personified. Appleby has managed to catch the eye on more than a few occasions over the past few seasons despite playing in such a stacked team at the Northern Knights. She often played off a wing or provided run on the outside like during the 2019 NAB League Finals Series. Appleby is now the top prospect at the Knights for the upcoming season as a member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, and as a damaging ball user, Appleby is one that teammates want to get the ball in the hands of in order to create scoring opportunities up the field.

Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco/Western Australia)

A dangerous forward half player with clean skills and a nous for goals, Thomas is the other AFL Women’s Academy member from Western Australia in her middle-age year along with Rowley and has a big future. Playing in an experienced team like Subiaco, Thomas was able to still stand out, regularly hitting the scoreboard. Standing at 175cm, Thomas has good size and good hands and having made her League debut in 2020, big things are predicted for 2021 with a lot of AFL Women’s talent, and more experienced heads around her.

Nyakoat Dojiok. Picture credit: Draft Central

Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

A player who is not afraid to take the game on and really take it to the opposition is GWV Rebels’ Dojiok who has been developing year-on-year over the last few years. Playing as a 15-year-old a few years back, Dojiok is one who when she gets going is hard to contain, and she has that rich blend of power and speed. She is utilised best as that outside runner, playing off half-back or along a wing, but is eye-catching in the way she plays and the way she can bring teammates into the game. Entering her top-age year, expect her to see even more midfield time as she has some seriously great traits.

Elizabeth Dowling (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

A player who might be flying under the radar that has some casual NAB League Girls watchers reaching for the team lists next year is Dowling. An incredible talent who showed progression in her two games this year, she has only managed to fly under the radar due to the enormous amount of talent coming out of the Falcons’ football factory. She played in defence as a bottom-ager then got time more up the field last year, and expect her to play through the midfield in 2021. She can play anywhere, at that hybrid 171cm-plus size and can be too athletic for talls and too strong for smalls, Dowling is one who should not be forgotten when talking about Vic Country prospects.

Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

The standout NSW/ACT prospect for 2021, Morphett is the sole AFL Women’s Academy member from her state. The developing 189cm-plus ruck is one who improved from her bottom-age season and it would have been fantastic to see her going up against the Melbourne-drafted Maggie Caris if their teams had met in the NAB League Girls before the season ended. She is commanding overhead and able to drift forward if required, Morphett is one of the few NAB League Girls prospects to play this year. Representing Belconnen Magpies in the AFL Canberra League, Morphett finished second in the league best and fairest, and then won best on ground in the Magpies’ premiership win. Not bad for a 17-year-old and she is one anticipated to take a huge step in 2021.

Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore/Queensland)

Stood tall at senior level in the QAFL Women’s competition for the Roos and is one of a remarkable three players in the AFL Women’s Academy from the side. Harmer showed in the Queensland All-Stars game that she looms as a strong prospect in 2021 with her overhead marking, read of the play and powerful kicking standing out in a tight game. A member of the Brisbane Lions Academy, Harmer is 170cm and could play at half-back as that intercepting rebounder, or through the middle, seemingly able to break down opposition defences on transition by getting in the way and then pumping it long.

Maggie Harmer. Picture credit: Deion Menzies, Highflyer Images

Amy Franklin (Claremont/Western Australia)

If we are talking upside, then Franklin, not too dissimilar to her West Australian namesake, has plenty of that for the future. A tall marking forward, Franklin has speed that makes smaller opponents envious, and standing at 180cm, she is big enough to outmark most opponents. Still quite raw and lightly built compared to more experienced WAFL Women’s defenders she came across, Franklin is one that once the ball gets goalside, you can almost put the glasses down. Terrific athleticism and one who is threatening to be an even bigger threat in 2021, she is yet another exciting tall forward to come out of Western Australia.

Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

If you are talking upside and potential in next year’s AFL Women’s Draft crop then take 186cm Gillard as an example. Only turning 17 in December this year, the key position utility can play in all three lines, starting off as a key defender, spending time up forward and has the size if required to play ruck. For a player of her size, Gillard is so good at ground level and able to create something out of nothing. While she is still a raw and developing talent, she is another from the Cannons’ program who has already had plenty of NAB League Girls experience that will only make her better.

Ella Friend (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

A second GWV Rebels player making the list, Friend did not get many chances this season to show what she is capable of, but what she did in that short space of time was quite remarkable. Another member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, Friend looked comfortable in the tight contest against the Western Jets back in Round 3, racking up a ton of the ball – 19 touches – and having a real influence in the forward half. Not only that, but she iced the game for the Rebels with a match-winning goal, and provided as much offence (six inside 50s) and defence (five tackles) to suggest she is a gamechanger and one to look out for next season.

Jorja Livingstone (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

Made her debut in the NAB League Girls competition and just has that X-factor about her that makes you sit up and take notice. Elite acceleration out of the stoppage and some really top-end traits, Livingstone came into the Ranges’ midfield and assimilated easily that it was hard to believe she was not a top-ager. Behind the experienced Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown, Livingstone was the next biggest performer onball, and with another preseason behind her, it will be exciting to see just what she can produce with her athletic traits and ability to get forward and look dangerous.

Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Yassir is just a fierce competitor who can play through the midfield or as a small forward. Standing at just 161cm, Yassir defies her size and is not afraid to take on bigger opponents, laying multiple tackles and is a contested ball winner. She stood up during Calder’s NAB League Girls finals series as a bottom-ager in 2019, and started strongly in 2020. She will have a bigger role in 2021 and has a bucketload of talent that will have opposition players wary of when she is in the zone.

Mikayla Pauga (Maroochydore/Queensland)

Another small forward and member of the AFL Women’s Academy, Pauga might just stand at 161cm like Yassir, but packs plenty of punch as a damaging forward. The second Maroochydore player in this list, Pauga finished second in her club’s goalkicking with 13 majors in 14 games, and was a clear standout. With an eye for goal and a large endurance base that sees her outwork opponents, Pauga is one who could step up again in 2021 and will be one to watch at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships having shown her wares at senior level in the QAFL Women’s already.

Zoe Venning. Picture credit: SANFL

Zoe Venning (West Adelaide/South Australia)

A hard-nosed midfielder/forward from West Adelaide, Venning came on in leaps and bounds throughout her second season in the red and black. She became a crucial member of the Bloods’ midfield, playing between wing and forward, though her attack on the ball shows she can easily translate into an inside midfielder. Providing great assistance to equal league best and fairest winner, Rachelle Martin as well as young talent Abbie Ballard, Venning is one who is dangerous around goals. She is still developing some areas of her game such as her kicking, but her work rate and intensity in play is superb.

Kasey Lennox (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A reliable key defender for the Cannons, Lennox is a fourth member of the Calder side to make this list, and shows just how strong their top-age group will be next season. Lennox is one who is good at ground level for a taller player, being one of the most dominant rebounders in the competition to start the 2020 NAB League Girls season. As a player who stood out on the big stage of the 2019 NAB League Girls Grand Final, Lennox is not afraid of big moments, and will team up well with Gillard as a couple of talls in a really strong Cannons outfit.

Amy Prokopiec (Clarence/Tasmania)

The sole Tasmanian prospect in the AFL Women’s National Academy, Prokopiec became one of the standout defenders for Tasmania Devils, albeit in just a handful of games in her bottom and middle-age years. As she showed with Clarence in the TSL Women’s competition this year and in the Tasmanian All-Stars game, Prokopiec is capable of playing at either end, and becoming that versatile tall utility. As a long kick and strong overhead, she is a crucial cog in the both the Roos and Devils sides, and will be hoping for a full season next year to test herself against the best in the NAB League Girls.

Amy Prokopiec (right). Picture credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

There are quite a few talls in this list with potential, and Schirmer is another one who just has that look about her that she could be in for a big 2021. In her middle-age season with reigning premiers South Adelaide, she acquitted herself well and while she did have some really outstanding performances, even when she was quieter, there was always a moment or two within games where you could see she was capable of kicking a couple of goals and winning the match for her side. Not far off 180cm, Schirmer can push up to a wing or even in defence, but she always looks damaging inside 50 and a real target for her teammates to kick to.

Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

A good size and capable of hitting the scoreboard, the 176cm James is a damaging prospect. She showed in her two games this year how she has developed both her offensive and defensive traits, and even as an Under 16s player for the Chargers, stood up in nine games and booted five goals. As one of a number of Chargers who were able to provide support to the top-end talent this year, James is another leader in the group to standout in her own top-age year in 2021.

Alana Lishmund (Norwood/South Australia)

Was a prominent member of the Norwood side in her debut SANFL Women’s season, then really stepped up as one of the best in the All-Stars match last month. She is predominantly a forward talent who can push up the ground into the midfield, and then play high or deep forward when required. A reliable kick for goal, she has that X-factor about her inside 50 and can be a leading or crumbing target, playing taller than her 166cm size, and one who will be another South Australian jostling for a spot as one of the more prominent talents in the state.

Alana Lishmund. Picture credit: AFL Media

Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

A multi-sport talent for the Stingrays, Anthony also has that something special about her game playing as a forward. She can play at either end, and has progressed through the pathway from V/Line Cup to the NAB League Girls. One who has shared her football journey with cricket duties – she has only managed the five games for the Stingrays – she knows how to hit the scoreboard and provide a presence. Despite standing at just 166cm, Anthony plays like a taller forward and finds space, and will be a top talent to watch out for from the Stingrays in 2021.

Others:

Maroochydore’s Bella Smith is another member of the AFL Women’s National Academy who stood up for Maroochydore this season in the QAFL Women’s, whilst Georgia Hutton and Caitlin Thorne are a couple of Gold Coast Academy members who showed some top-end traits during the All-Stars match.

The South Australian group has been sensational with plenty having senior experience, led by South Adelaide’s Lauren Clifton who stood out in the All-Stars match up forward. Central District’s Madison Lane, North Adelaide’s Kate Case, Glenelg’s Brooke Tonon and Woodville-West Torrens’ Jamie Parish are others who have been ones to watch at SANFL Women’s level this season.

Over in the west, Chloe Reilly remains a dangerous forward option for East Fremantle with her work at ground level and around goals, whilst Swan Districts’ Emma Nanut, and South Fremantle trio, Tayla Whincup, Taylah Cruttenden and Poppy Stockwell are also great talents.

Looking to the NAB League and there are plenty of names to throw up, but a few in the mix include Mikayla Jones (Murray Bushrangers), Jemma Radford (Dandenong Stingrays) and Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons) who have shown to be natural players in their respective areas. From the Vic Metro perspective, Peppa Poultney (Calder Cannons), Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers), Caitlin Sargent (Western Jets) and Tarrah Delgado (Northern Knights) were terrific this year, while a host of middle-age Sandringham Dragons got their starts and will no doubt produce a number of surprise packets alongside their elite bottom-age talents.

Perri King is another Tasmanian prospect behind Prokopiec to watch, making history as the Devils’ first goalkicker last season and will be keen to build on that again. From Northern Territory, there is a heap of great young talents coming through from 2022 onwards, with one 2021 draft prospect being Georgia Johnson, a 160cm talent from Waratah who stood out in the NT All-Stars match last month. Playing in defence, she was one to take note of as she regularly mopped up and got the ball down the field for Team Hewett.

Alongside the top-age talents, a number of over-age talents who missed out on being drafted this year will no doubt be trying to stake their case against be it via the NAB League or state leagues, including Brooke Hards, Jemma Finning and Annabel Strahan (all Bendigo Pioneers), Zoe Hill, Abbey Jordan and Jess Matin (all Dandenong Stingrays), Ash Snow and Maeve Chaplin (both Northern Knights), Amber Micallef (Oakleigh Chargers), Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges) and Grace McRae (Gippsland Power) who all received AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites but were unlucky to miss out.

In Western Australia, Maggie MacLachlan (Subiaco), Brianna Hyde and Mikayla Hyde (both Swan Districts) head into 2021 as over-agers, while mature-agers Ella Smith and Jess Low (both Claremont), Rosie Walsh (East Fremantle) and Sarah Wielstra (Swan Districts) are others who missed out on the AFL Women’s Draft but will remain ones to watch.

Elsewhere, Northern Territorian Mattea Breed continues to develop for Norwood in South Australia, whilst Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers), Jayde Hamilton (Queanbeyan Tigers) and Kiara Beesley (Southern Power) were draft combine invitees from NSW/ACT.

In Queensland, Beth Pinchin has shown great resilience as a mature-ager coming back from multiple injuries, while Courtney Bromage and Brooke Spence are other mature-agers who caught attention this year. Christine Okesene, Ebony Peterson, Laura Blue, Chloe Gregory and Madison Goodwin were also in the mix this year with Draft Combine invites so will be kept on close watch in 2021. The other two players to receive AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites but miss out were the exciting Freda Puruntatameri (Calder Cannons/Northern Territory) and Charlie Vandenberg (Wynyard/Tasmania) who have plenty of development left in them.

2020 AFL Women’s Draft preview: The next crop of young stars to find homes tonight

TONIGHT up to 61 players will live out their AFL Women’s dreams when the 14 clubs select the players to fill out the 2021 lists at the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Like most years, the AFL Women’s Draft still has state-based selections with Adelaide (South Australia) and GWS GIANTS (New South Wales) having sole priority to players that nominate that state. In Queensland (Brisbane and Gold Coast) and Western Australia (Fremantle and West Coast) the teams will split the players, whilst the remaining 10 teams will fight over the Victorian pool. The one major change is that there is only a Victorian pool, not split into Metropolitan and Geelong, so the Cats do not have priority on those from the region.

Richmond holds the all-important first pick in the draft which is expected to kick off from 7pm. There are a number of players the Tigers could select, but the frontrunner is Northern Knights’ star Ellie McKenzie, an inside midfielder who can play just about anywhere on the field and has been a proven talent for a number of years now.

[ … Ellie McKenzie feature … ]

Western Bulldogs traded up from Pick 3 to Pick 2 to ensure they could nab the second best player in the draft, with Tyanna Smith high up there in contention. The Dandenong Stingrays’ star has very few flaws in her game and has elite acceleration and a match-winning ability. The other one in contention if the Dogs opt to go tall could be another Northern Knights’ star in Alyssa Bannan as another forward option, as she can play tall or small and even push up into the midfield.

[ … Tyanna Smith feature … ] | [ … Alyssa Bannan feature … ]

Also in the mix for the top Victorian picks are Sandringham Dragons’ Sarah Hartwig, a rebounding defender who could fill the need at Melbourne with Pick 5. Whichever player is left of the trio, expect the Saints to pounce on with Pick 6 in what showcases the elite top-end talent of this year’s group. Another possibility for the pick could be Northern Knights’ Jess Fitzgerald if the Saints choose to add extra midfield class to their side.

[ … Sarah Hartwig feature … ] | [ … Jess Fitzgerald One to Watch  … ]

West Coast and Adelaide also have top five picks coming in at picks three and four, with the Eagles having a decision to make whether they go high-flying Shanae Davison from their own aligned-Academy or if they look at someone like Sarah Verrier, a Peel Thunder talent with a great blend of inside-outside traits or Bella Lewis a hardened midfielder who has been sensational this year. The Crows are expected to be a little more predictable, with Teah Charlton the standout prospect, though given they have a monopoly on the South Australian nominees, they can select anyone in any order.

[ … Shanae Davison feature … ] | [ … Sarah Verrier feature … ] | [… Bella Lewis … ] | [ … Teah Charlton feature … ]

Gold Coast becomes the first Queensland team into the draft at Pick 7, and with players still able to nominate the Gold Coast and Brisbane zones, a Suns Academy member such as Annise Bradfield, Daisy D’Arcy, Maddison Levi or Beth Pinchin could be among those in consideration. For the Lions a pick later, Zimmorlei Farquharson looms as the standout youngster in the group.

[ … Annise Bradfield … ] | [ … Daisy D’Arcy feature … ] | [ … Maddison Levi feature … ] | [ … Zimmorlei Farquharson feature … ]

The final pick inside the top 10 is Geelong and they have the most interesting selection with the top group likely off the board, it is an even balance of players they could choose from. If they opt to go local – knowing they do not have priority – then perhaps the skill and class of Falcons’ Darcy Moloney could be an option. If they want to go a little taller, then Isabelle Pritchard could head down the highway from the Western Jets and provide a strong inside presence, or they could look to a proven big-game performer in Northern Knights’ Fitzgerald.

[ … Darcy Moloney feature … ] | [ … Isabelle Pritchard feature … ]

Western Bulldogs become the first team to make their second selection at Pick 11, which is effectively Pick 6 from the Victorian draft. If they went Smith in the first selection, they could look to go taller here and look to someone like Bulldogs’ supporter Pritchard or perhaps consider Murray Bushrangers’ key forward Olivia Barber. If they went for Bannan with their second selection, perhaps Fitzgerald is one to join the ranks as yet another Knight, whilst the likes of classy forward Bella Eddey or outside mover Mimi Hill could come into consideration through the first round.

[ … Olivia Barber feature … ] | [ … Bella Eddey feature … ] | [ … Mimi Hill feature … ]

Carlton enter the draft at Pick 12, and the names already raised in Fitzgerald, Hill and Eddey could be around the mark, though if they want to add an inside midfielder, then perhaps Falcons’ Laura Gardiner could be a suggestion. North Melbourne are next up and will also be keen to add another midfielder to the ranks, and try and predict what Melbourne (Picks 15 and 17) and Western Bulldogs (Pick 16) are going to do. If the Dees did not end up with Hartwig, then they could look at Dandenong Stingrays’ Zoe Hill with a selection, or if Pritchard has somehow slid, she is another defensive option.

[ … Laura Gardiner feature … ] | [ … Zoe Hill feature … ]

The West Australian teams squeeze in between the Victorian ones, with Fremantle likely to grab one of Verrier or Bella Lewis at the pick. Both are Fremantle-aligned and the Dockers know they can have an immediate impact in last year’s unbeaten side. The Eagles could look to Davison – if not already taken – or the classy Mikayla Morrison with this selection, or go for the ready-made Nyra Anderson at Pick 18.

[ … Bella Lewis feature … ] | [ … Mikayla Morrison feature … ] | [ … Nyra Anderson feature … ]

The last team to enter the draft is Collingwood with Pick 19 the Magpies’ first selection. Expect that to be Tarni Brown because on talent alone she is a top 10 pick, so the black and white army will gladly use their first pick on the Eastern Ranges’ jet. They will look to add some more midfield options, and she adds some extra speed and class to the team. Expect Alice Burke to be read out at the Saints’ Pick 24 – again great value – otherwise anything else is a bargain.

[ … Tarni Brown feature … ] | [ … Alice Burke feature … ]

The draft crop becomes so even outside of that top 20, with so many talented players fighting for spots on AFL Women’s lists. Ash Woodland and Georgia Nanscawen are readymade prospects who can impact immediately at AFL Women’s level, whilst Alana Barba, Shanara Notman, Nikia Webber, Amber Ward and Mattea Breed are all talls who have an extra year of experience as over-agers. Not holding a Draft Combine invite per say, South Australian duo Rachelle Martin and Matilda Zander would be a couple of others on clubs radars as ones who can make an immediate impact.

Some former basketballers who have crossed to football in the last 12-18 months are Amelia Velardo, Annabel Strahan and Carly Remmos, whilst Jess Matin (cricket) and Charlie Vandenberg (hockey) are among others who have forced high-level careers in other sports. Queenslanders, Christine Okesene, Brooke Spence, Laura Blue and Lucy Single are others who have transferred from various codes over the years.

From a Victorian perspective, among other names in various midfield positions are outside midfielder, Abbey Jordan and Joanna Lin, inside midfielders, Brooke Hards, Olivia Meagher and Winnie Laing, balanced midfielders Eliza McNamara, Megan Fitzsimon and Maeve Chaplin. Meanwhile the standout ruck is Maggie Caris.

Up forward, Renee Saulitis is the most dangerous small forward, whilst Isabella Simmons is a taller option, and Abbi Moloney a rapidly improving player. In defence, Ash Snow has great speed, while the likes of Jemma Finning, Mietta Kendall and Amber Micallef have all produced great seasons. As some raw talents, Alice O’Loughlin and Alice Astbury have had glimpses in the few games they have played, whilst Grace McRae and Daisy Walker have been valuable across multiple positions though predominantly in the middle.

From South Australia, Indy Tahau is the other star top-ager who is likely to join her South Adelaide teammate Charlton at the Crows, whilst for NSW/ACT,  Murray Bushrangers’ Abby Favell, midfielder-defender Emily Pease and surprise packet Kiara Beesley were among the Draft Combine invites. From the Northern Territory, top-ager Stephanie Williams leads the charge and has nominated Victoria, while Freda Puruntatameri – who played some games for Calder Cannons – and mature-ager Janet Baird have all caught the eye.

Out west, mature-agers Sarah Wielstra (25 years-old) and 20-year-olds, Ella Smith, Rosie Walsh and Jess Low all earned combine invites. Meanwhile from the top-age group, twins Brianna and Mikayla Hyde have impressed moving into the midfield this season, while leading forward Maggie MacLachlan is another player in contention to be drafted.

[ … FOR FULL FEATURES ON MORE THAN 80 PLAYERS HEAD TO OUR AFLW FEATURES PAGE … ]

TEAM-BY-TEAM PICKS:

Adelaide: 4, 45, 47
Brisbane: 8, 37, 38
Carlton: 12, 28, 36
Collingwood: 19, 25, 26, 31, 33
Fremantle: 14, 30, 46
Geelong: 10, 20, 21, 27, 39
Gold Coast: 7, 23, 50, 54, 57, 58, 60, 61
GWS: 9, 29, 42
Melbourne: 5, 15, 17, 35, 41, 48
North Melbourne: 13, 22, 44, 49, 55
Richmond: 1, 43, 52
St Kilda: 6, 24, 34, 40, 51
West Coast: 3, 18, 32, 53, 56, 59
Western Bulldogs: 2, 11, 16

Talented forward Hyde made makes midfield move

MODELLING her game off Collingwood excitement machine Jamie Elliott, Western Australia product Mikayla Hyde draws a lot of similarities between the way she plies her trade on the footy field and that of Elliott. Having pushed into the midfield this year, Hyde noted the evolution of her game from being a forward to a player that can rotate through and have an influence.

“I’ve always been a Jamie Elliott fan. When I watched him I always saw that he was playing forward, before AFLW was even a thing I was always like ‘I want to kick goals like he did’. And then it’s actually funny he moved into the midfield this year, for Collingwood and I also played midfield mostly this year for Swan Districts,” Hyde said.

Drawing inspiration from Elliott from a men’s footy perspective, Hyde also highlighted the work of former Calder Cannons star and current St Kilda player Georgia Patrikios who is renowned for her cleanliness, coverage of the ground and sheer star power.

“In the female side of things probably a player like Georgia Patrikios. I think she is so clean and is a pretty tough midfielder as well. I would like to play exactly like her, I do like to model my game around someone like her.”

Dissimilar to her twin sister Brianna who supports Richmond, Hyde has been a lifelong Pies fan, so much so she made the trek over to the MCG for the 2018 Grand Final between Collingwood and her home state side, West Coast Eagles. Not getting the desired outcome – a Collingwood premiership – the youngster not only had to deal with the loss but so too the venture home.

“Went to the grand final in 2018 and I can confirm that I did lose a few tears after we lost,” Hyde admitted. “Fly over there and then fly home with all the Eagles supporters but we still wore Collingwood stuff because you know, we’re loyal.”

In terms of her own journey, Hyde made mention that it was the influence of her father and brothers that really prompted her love affair with the game and made her hungry to take the field.

“Probably mostly to do with dad, he’s a Collingwood supporter and so am I and we kind of just grew up watching it with him,” she explained. “Both our brothers played footy and we kind of watched them. We didn’t play until about Year 6 in our primary school team with the boys. And then after that we wanted to keep playing but mum wouldn’t let us because we didn’t know there was girls teams out there, and eventually we found girls teams and joined Swan Districts.”

“I played school footy and that led to like an All-Stars game, and we were on the Swan Districts side because that was the closest WAFL club to our house. Then from there the girls that were coaching actually played for Swans and then invited us to come down to the youth girls team,” Hyde said.

When speaking about the moment that she was identified and chosen to join the ranks at Swan Districts, Hyde reminisced on how important it was for her to be able to take the footy field with a group of girls and really get an opportunity to show what she is made of.

“Yeah, it was so good, I was with Mikayla Bowen at the same time, and we wanted to play for so long and mum just kept saying no, she wouldn’t let us play with the boys. So to know it was an actual girls team and actually play was so cool.”

Having grown up watching a lot of footy, Hyde identified that one of her most damaging attributes on the footy field is her ability to read the play and see the patterns unfold. When it comes to areas to improve on, the 18-year-old wants to “develop (her) contested ball on the floor, just being a little bit cleaner”.

Representing Western Australia in 2019, Hyde touched on what an amazing experience it was and the stark differences between playing in that competition and the WAFL Women’s, having to contend with much bigger bodies.

“Yeah it was insane, and the girls that you play with make it even better. When you’re over there you meet girls from eastern states, and that’s even cooler too, I’ve got so many mates up in Queensland and in Victoria. Such a good experience overall.”

“I think it is just body size that you verse, like we verse some pretty big girls. I’m not a huge human as it is,” she joked. “So versing the huge girls in the WAFLW, avoiding contact is harder to take but I got used to it, in the second year of league I got used to the harder hits where at states you can kind of use it to be stronger on the field and take on people and take on tackles.”

In her short career so far, Hyde has had some pretty momentous occasions, not only playing in a grand final but winning the premiership and some added silverware in the form of a best on ground.

“Probably 2017 when Swan Districts went back-to-back to back on the same day, our youth girls, reserves and league had all won the premiership and then I snagged best on ground so I was stoked with that,” she said. “But to win a premiership was good.”

“I was actually really surprised because the microphone cut out, and then someone must have heard it was my name and my mates were trying to tell me get up, and I was like no way, I was not expecting it at all but it was cool.”

Swan Districts has been a part of Hyde’s life for a long time, with the youngster crediting the work of the club for ensuring that women’s football is viable for all girls through their inclusivity and commitment to the program.

“I think we’re such a tight unit like from what people see, externally it’s nothing to what is in between the four walls like, especially we’re the only club in – definitely in WA that has their own female change rooms like the WAFL club. So that just shows that our clubs really care for our females. All of our coaches are always so supportive and we’re a really diverse club as well, we accept everyone,” she explained.

In terms of coaches and people at the club who have had an influence on the 18-year-old, it was hard for her to go past Kara Antonio, crediting the Fremantle captain for her progression, confidence to take the game on and general development as a player.

“Definitely Kara Antonio last year at least, really helped like guided me through on how I could make it all the way up and she still to this day has always been there for me and stuff like that so I’d definitely say Kara Antonio.”

A day out from the draft, Hyde hopes to “end up on an AFLW list” stating that “anyone that would take me I will be there”.

Determined MacLachlan overcomes obstacles

SUBIACO youngster Maggie MacLachlan has overcome her fair share of obstacles over her years on the footy field, continuously striving to come out better and present that on the field. But it was not always that way for the 171cm prospect, who was not a huge fan of the oblong-sport when she was younger until she realised she could be compensated for her effort.

“So I think I was six and everyone was playing footy, and I was like ‘I don’t want to play footy, that looks boring’, and then I was at Auskick watching the game and I was actually like, ‘no I’ll do it, I’ll play footy’ because you got a sausage sizzle after,” MacLachlan laughed. 

“I joined the junior football club and played Auskick there through midfield, and then when I was like 13 I went and joined West Perth Women’s Club, which was Joondalup Falcons back then, like 2016,” she said. “So I moved from the boys to the girls, which was different.”

But MacLachlan hit a speed bump in over 2018, forced to the sidelines with continued knee tracking issues which ended up requiring surgery.

“I had knee surgery on both of my knees, so, I took – not even a year, a couple months off in 2018… I had a tracking issue with both of my knees, they kept dislocating when I would do certain things, mostly in footy,” she explained. 

“So I got the left one done the September, so they moved my tibia over so it’s in line with my kneecap so it tracks properly so I can change direction, so I got that one done first and then six weeks later, when I could, I took the brace off the left one I got the right one done. So, yeah, that was quite fun.”

While returning to football was tough given MacLachlan essentially had to retrain herself to run, she was determined to make a full recovery and ensure the issue does not reoccur in the future.

“(It was) quite challenging because you obviously need to learn how to run properly and then not being nervous to change direction, or go in for contact in case someone bumps you. But, like, just rehabbing it properly so it won’t happen again.”

From there, MacLachlan moved to play with Subiaco women’s in 2019 given the lack of league opportunity at West Perth, and has not skipped a beat since with a finals berth this year.

“2019 I moved to Subiaco to play Rogers Cup with them so I played with them, didn’t play any state or anything. And then this year I still play at Subi, and was in the State Academy again. And then in the 18s teams. Now, I’m here.”

For MacLachlan, “here” is in the unprecedented position of selection for the Western Australia Football League (WAFL) Women’s All-Stars match and an invitation to the Western Australian pool of the AFL Women’s Draft Combine, both of which took place over the last week. MacLachlan says that selection for the Combine was a shock, admitting she expected to play another year especially given the lack of pathways and academy opportunities this year.

“I had no idea that this was my year because I was more thinking like being an over-ager. I thought, ‘oh this year I’ll just like go out there, play some good footy’. So when I got the email I thought oh no I’m in trouble,” MacLachlan said. “Because of COVID there wasn’t really any state academy or anything. And then when I read that I was like oh, that’s cool.”

“Knowing that my close friends like Mikayla and Bri (Hyde) were in it too I was like, ‘that’s sick’ because they’ve worked hard and I’ve tried to keep up with them, so getting chosen was a pretty cool experience.”

Booting two goals in the 2020 WAFLW competition grand final was the icing on the cake for MacLachlan, getting a little bit more out of the majors than the bragging rights at the end of the game. 

“So Kara Antonio works at SEDA as a teacher, and during the week she was chipping me all week about the game, and I was just giving it back saying I can kick goals, and I had only actually kicked two in the season,” MacLachlan explained. “So I was just like, joking around and I said ‘if we win I want a pair of footy boots, your footy boots’, and she laughed and said no, ‘but if you kick a goal,’ because she was commentating, ‘I’ll give you a pair of footy boots.’”

“I was like, alright, we shook on it, and then before the game I said to her, I was like ‘I’m gonna get my boots’ and she said ‘just just focus on the game buddy’, and then when I kicked that goal, I was like in my head, ‘I get a pair of footy boots!'”

While she does not get two pairs for the two goals, it was the youngster’s first official grand final stint, and even though Subiaco did not get the win she said the experience was invaluable. The bet with Antonio seemed to spark MacLachlan into action, determined to prove her mentor wrong and committing to doing everything in her power to make it happen.

“Yeah, it does (spur me on). like when boys chip you and all that about football because they think it’s a ‘boys sport’ and you just go out there and do these things,” MacLachlan said. “Now a lot of them in my class actually have watched the games, and actually, like supported, not just think it’s rubbish.”

It’s not just proving people wrong that inspires MacLachlan to go hard, but also a familiar name at both WAFLW and AFL Women’s level. 

“I’d say Hayley Miller, the captain of Subi. I’ve obviously played with her this year, and just seeing how she drives herself within football, she’s very committed to it, and playing at Freo,” MacLachlan said. “How she just handles herself on the field and off the field I think is something I want to be able to be really good at, like discipline-wise as well.”

MacLachlan is also inspired by her peers, once again citing Hyde twins Mikayla and Brianna as a few of her close friends and tough competitors.

“At state would be like Mikayla and Brianna Hyde and Bella Lewis, they really drive me to do better, until I feel like I can’t keep going, and running and stuff to push me to do my best.”

Running is something MacLachlan pointed out she wants to improve and continuously work on.

“Running, like being able to keep up with people who can run and run so I can keep going in games and running to the next contest,” she said. “I think running is one of the most important things so (I’ve been) working on that this year, and contact on my terms, so making the first contact and not waiting for them to hit me.”

As for where her strength lies, MacLachlan is confident in her kicking ability.

“(A strength is) my kicking. Both feet, I think, my right one’s really reliable and if I need to go on the left I can go on the left,” MacLachlan said. 

Whether or not the talented and driven youngster gets pickup up in the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft this coming Tuesday, expect to see her continue to ply her trade on the footy field, having proven there is little that will keep her away from the action. No doubt, the experience of playing with and among some of the top Western Australian prospects has put a pep in the top-ager’s step, with plenty to look forward to for the determined youngster.

“It’s fun being around people who have the same interests as you, and want to do good and get better. Having that drive, the same drive as you.”

Hyde keen for next step in football journey

A ONE-EYED Richmond supporter, Brianna Hyde said one day it would be the dream to join her beloved Tigers and ply her trade on the footy field for the yellow and black. Hailing from Western Australia the 18-year-old has a bright future ahead of her and already has a wealth of experience under her belt having played with Swan District in the WAFL Women’s competition.

“If I could obviously would be Richmond because that would be the dream but any team would be awesome, I’d be grateful,” she said.

A member of the Swan Districts side, Hyde was not always involved in footy, instead spending some time on the track and field before finding her way back to the oblong-ball as a teenager.

“I started playing Auskick with my brothers. But after that mum would never let me play with the boys so I went to athletics,” Hyde said. “Did athletics until I think I was about 15, or 14, then I started playing or found out about Swans like the women’s side and started playing youth girls there.”

Although it took some convincing to start, Hyde’s parents are now fully onboard with her decision to play footy and attend most games to support not only her but so too her sister Mikayla.

“Yeah she (mum) didn’t want me playing with the boys I think,” she said. “But now they’re fully involved, absolutely love it and come to every game and mum wishes that she let us play when we asked 100 million times a year. But they 100 hundred per cent have our backs and support us.”

Boasting an athletics background of which her favourite events were sprinting, javelin and hurdling Hyde possesses some pretty damaging traits. But it is her love for footy and time spent watching the sport that Hyde believes is one of her biggest strengths on the footy field as it enables her to read the play and impact it accordingly.

“Probably my footy knowledge to be honest, I’ve watched a lot of footy from a young age so I can read the play pretty well,”  she said.

Standing at 164cm Hyde is not the tallest player on the footy field and is still developing areas of her game play, with the youngster identifying aspects like her body strength as a key component she wants to work on to ensure she is a dominant force.

“Yeah probably like my body size just so I can tackle harder, I struggle a bit because I’m on the smaller, lighter side so hopefully my tackling can get better,” she said.

Swan Districts has been Hyde’s home for a couple of years now with the youngster touting the family-like environment as a key aspect while also highlighting how the people there have helped her develop into the footballer she is today.

“Amazing, absolutely love the club. It’s been so much fun like my development, and really made me a better person, as well with the people always around,” she stated.

When it comes to key influences at the club it was hard for Hyde to go past Fremantle Dockers star Kara Antonio. The highly talented midfielder took both Hyde sisters under her wing, encouraging them to ply their trade at the top level of footy in WA, something Hyde is incredibly thankful for.

“Definitely Kara Antonio when she was here,” Hyde said. “I got to know her really well and then not this year, last year, she pushed me and my sister up to play League. We both weren’t confident in playing League but she had hope for us and we ended up playing the season in WAFLW.”

League was not only a step up in intensity and skill but all round competition with the lightly framed Hyde competing with much bigger bodied and experienced players. Although it took her a while to find her feet, the 18-year-old has become a regular feature in the Swan Districts and is not afraid to back herself in.

“Yeah, definitely my first year I was a bit scared because of the size of me compared to some of them. But I just got confident and I’m fine now,” she said.

Not only does Hyde play at the Swans but so too works at the club, often balancing her role as a community liaison with other elements such as her training after graduating from high school last year.

“I’m the community liaison so I do a traineeship but I work with the community, schools and run programs with troubled kids and disadvantaged kids. But yeah I love the job it’s really fun,” she said.

“Yeah, it is fun you get a bunch of new kids and get to see them grow as a person.”

Engrained in the Swans decor Hyde recounted a couple of momentous occasions, none bigger than that of winning the premiership back in 2016 with the hardworking midfielder valuing the chance to run out for her club and lift the cup.

“Probably winning the grand final in 2016 for the Swan Districts because all three grades won, our youth girls, reserves and league won, we were all premiers so that was pretty cool,” she said.

“I’d never played in a grand final before so it was absolutely amazing and to just top it off that all three grades won it was massive for the club,” Hyde said. “I don’t think that’s ever been done before, especially by women. It’s pretty cool.”

AFL Women’s Draft preview: Fremantle Dockers & West Coast Eagles

THE AFL Women’s Draft is fast approaching and in the lead-up to the draft, we take a look at each of the AFL women’s sides in pairs and see what they might look for, and who might be available with the selections they have. Next up in our series are the two sides from Western Australia, in Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles.

Fremantle Dockers – Western Australia pool

Draft selections: 14, 30, 46, 58

Off-season summary:

The Dockers made a few moves in the off-season with three players delisted alongside the retirement of Kate Flood. The experienced Mia-Rae Clifford, as well as Sarah Garstone and Lindal Rohde were all delisted by the Dockers, while Tayla Bresland headed to state rivals West Coast for Pick 46. Coming into the side was North Melbourne’s Jess Trend for a bargain basement price of Pick 44, effectively making it a straight swap in Trend for Bresland. The Dockers wrapped up a productive off-season by picking up Tarnee Tester as a delisted free agent seeing enough to suggest she has more to give at the elite level.

Finishing on top of the AFL Women’s table undefeated in 2020, the Dockers will be determined to back it up with a successful year in 2021 and enter with the second and third selections in the AFL Women’s Draft.

A draft look:

The two players the Dockers will likely look at are two hardened competitors in Sarah Verrier and Bella Lewis, who both trained at the Dockers over the summer. Verrier was a member of the premiership-winning Peel Thunder side in the midfield, while Lewis continued to improve through the midfield-half-forward line and is readymade to have an impact if need be. Both would be worthy selections with Verrier a player who has caught the eye for some time at junior level.

Others who fall under the Fremantle catchment include Lewis’ Claremont teammates, Jess Low and Ella Smith, and towering key forward Rosie Walsh who has enjoyed a strong season at senior level for the Sharks. Of course the Dockers could look at a number of West Coast Academy players too if they see fit in the draft.

West Coast Eagles – Western Australia pool

Draft selections: 3, 18, 32

Off-season summary:

West Coast made plenty of moves over the off-season from a list perspective with Kate Bartlett, Cassie Davidson, Emily McGuire, Danika Pisconeri and Tester all delisted. Most of them stepped up at WAFL Women’s level to suggest that they could all earn a call-up if the Eagles – or Dockers as they did with Tester – feel they deserve another chance, while Emily Bonser also announced her retirement.

In terms of trades, Western Bulldogs’ Irish recruit Aisling McCarthy joined the blue and gold for effectively Pick 16, as the Eagles helped the Bulldogs move one spot higher on the draft board which would not impact West Coast having the first selection in the West Australian draft. They also brought in Bresland for Pick 46 who will join the raft of players switching between the teams out west.

A draft look:

The Eagles have a number of top-end talented youngsters in high-flyers Mikayla Morrison and Shanae Davison. Holding pick one and three in the AFL Women’s Draft, they could secure both with those selections, or look at one of the Fremantle prospects too. Morrison has velcro-hands in any conditions and is so classy around the ground, while Davison is an athletic high flyer with a remarkable contested marking ability.

Looking at some of the other West Coast-aligned players, other Swan Districts teammates in twins, Brianna and Mikayla Hyde, and Sarah Wielstra have earned AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitations, as has Subiaco’s Maggie MacLachlan.

As an overall look at the West Australian draft crop, there is plenty to like about the players on offer, and both sides will be stronger for it with talent at ground level and in the air that could step up and have a massive impact at AFL Women’s level next season.

Anderson stars as Under 18s get job done over WAFL Women’s

WESTERN Australia’s brightest young stars put on a show and made the most of their opportunities to come away with a 17-point win over the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s All-Stars side in terrible conditions. The Under 18s All-Stars held up well defensively considering the WAFL Women’s side maintained large portions of forward half possession but could not capitalise on the scoreboard with just one goal from eight scoring shots. It was the work of over-age talent Nyra Anderson who was a clear best on ground, starring for the winners and showing her strength and clean hands at ground level.

Along with Anderson, middle-ager Courtney Rowley had a massive first half, and another young talent in Jaide Britton had a huge second half, to assist Anderson and help the teenage side get over the line. For the WAFL Women’s team, Tessa Doumanis was lively up forward and should have had a few more than her one major, as well as had a hand in a few other scoring chances. Along with Doumanis, Sarah Garstone tried hard out of defence, while Tiah Haynes and Chloe Wrigley were also prominent.

Rowley had a huge first term for the Under 18s, seemingly everywhere on the ground and winning it with ease. Despite her performance in the back half and along the wing, it was the All-Stars who looked dangerous early with back-to-back behinds after a rushed behind and missed set shot from Deni Broadhurst had them with the early lead. Liusaidh Gilchrist had a great spoil at half-back as the Under 18s were attacking through the likes of Amy Franklin and Rosie Walsh, but it would be a nice contested mark from Chloe Reilly that earned the first set shot on goal.

Her set shot looked good in the driving rain, but cannoned into the post. It changed the momentum of the game however, as Shakira Pickett and Anderson were busy around the stoppages. Garstone was doing her best under pressure but the wall at half-forward was set up for the Under 18s to control forward half possession. After not much movement on the scoreboard, it took a nice snap from Emily Bennett out of nothing with an open goalsquare to seize the moment and hand her side the quarter time lead.

The second term was almost a counter contrast early after it took 13 minutes for the first goal in the opening quarter. This time, it was some magic out of the middle from Mikayla Morrison leading to a nice Poppy Stockwell mark not long after who made sure of her set shot from 30m out straight in front. It was scrappy, contested footy considering the conditions, but Lou Knitter Medallist, Wrigley was working hard on the inside. Breanne Spencer was a rock in defence with a number of intercept marks, and despite Rowley having a massive game at half-back, it would be the All-Stars who responded on the scoreboard.

Doumas won the ball nine and a half minutes into the term, sidestepped an opponent and was helped via a Zoe Gillard shepherd to put one home off her slick left boot. The WAFL Women’s were back within a kick at half-time with Maggie MacLachlan and Brianna Hyde both having some great defensive moments to keep the opposition at bay considering the possession dominance in that term.

The third term started like the second ended, with the WAFL Women’s team having plenty of chances attacking. Sara Wielstra and Jayme Harkin combined for a quick snap on goal and then Wrigley had one two, but both failed to register a score. A costly 50m penalty handed Dana East plenty of meterage and the Under 18s’ first look forward, but the WAFL Women’s defence was again up to the task. Rowley looked to set Anderson a task in a one-against three contest, but the 19-year-old seemingly did well, bringing it to ground and then using her clean hands off the next stoppage.

Anderson was not only working into the game, she was having a huge say in it. A sharked ball by Grace Wilkie at half-forward saw her pump it inside 50 midway through the term to a one-on-one. In slippery conditions, Anderson kept her feet and just managed to get boot to ball for it to dribble home and extend the lead out to 10. MacLachlan nearly had a goal of her own with a quick snap which missed, but it was Anderson again who bobbed up with a great effort against two opponents at ground level to collect and calmly spin, giving off the handball to the loose teammate in Lauren Quaife who kicked the easiest of goals for her side with two minutes on the clock.

The deficit could have been even greater for the WAFL Women’s side had it not been for Garstone’s intercepting in defence, with the Fremantle delistee certainly putting her hand up to be reconsidered. With a 17-point deficit to their name, the WAFL Women’s team needed something special in the last term, but much like the second term, it was all the Under 18s early. Britton was having a purple patch with a number of good touches, and Franklin pushed forward again had a snap but just missed to the right. Another rushed behind followed and it was the Under 18s peppering the goals now with consecutive behinds.

In the nine-and-a-half-minute mark of the final term, Reilly tried something special off the outside of the boot in the forward pocket, but was touched off the boot before it sailed home. It was her side’s fourth consecutive behind, but they were all but home and hosed. Despite this, the WAFL Women’s side rallied in the last seven minutes to have multiple scoring opportunities that had they gone through, could have seen them steal the win. Unfortunately despite Doumanis having a couple of set shots, and handing a couple more off, all four set shot chances either fell short or missed marginally.

In the end, the Under 18s made more of their goal scoring chances and were the only side to kick multiple goals in a term. Despite neither team kicking a major in the final term, it was tense and hard fought with both sides giving it a red hot crack in challenging conditions. With the AFL Women’s Draft Combine coming up, those players invited will be keen to put their best foot forward after another strong outing in what is their last of the season.

U18S ALL-STARS 1.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 | 4.6 (30)
WAFLW ALL-STARS 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 1.7 (13)

GOALS: 

U18s: E. Bennett, P. Stockwell, N. Anderson, L. Quaife.
WAFLW: T. Doumanis.

ADC BEST:

U18s: N. Anderson, C. Rowley, J. Britton, E. Bennett, A. Franklin
WAFLW: T. Doumanis, S. Garstone, T. Haynes, C. Wrigley, J. Low

Picture: AFL Photos

Final quarter frenzy sends Sharks into the prelim

A FINAL quarter frenzy by reigning premiers, East Fremantle has seen the Sharks bob up and defeat Swan Districts for the second consecutive week in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition. Last week’s win over the Swans was to secure home ground advantage – as well as a finals spot itself – while this week was putting the final nail in the black and whites coffin for the season. In what was an unpredictable contest – from the matchplay to the weather – East Fremantle got up just in the knick of time despite being held scoreless for two quarters.

The Sharks kicked the first two goals of the game thanks to a strong breeze favouring their end at New Choice Homes Park, with Samara Pluschke getting on the board via a snap just one minute into the contest. The Swans had chances of their own, with young guns Mikayla Morrison and Shanae Davison combining to give veteran, Fi Boucher a chance but could not quite control it, while Nyra Anderson kicked into the player on the mark from 20m out. The wind was making it difficult for the Swans, with even the football seemingly barracking for the Swans.

Ashley Sharp was running into an open 50, only for a Jack Crisp-like bounce to cause her to reassess, only to be caught by Pluschke at half-forward. Julie-Ann Norrish and Alex Williams were having sensational days down back, whilst Gabby O’Sullivan was doing Gabby O’Sullivan things, and setting up her teammates. A long bomb inside 50 only just missed the hands of Rosie Walsh, but O’Sullivan’s next touch was an intercept and handball to Lily Bird 30m out who made no mistake off a quick step from 30m. The Sharks led by 14 points, and it was only a Jess Cox chance – a snap towards goal – that was knocked through for a behind to make the deficit 13 points at the first break.

The second term was more of an arm-wrestle for both sides, as Mother Nature had a laugh at the players expense. The strange term began with Larissa Versaci winning a free for being polaxed – by her own teammate – much to the shock of Anderson who the umpire blamed for the contact. Light rain began falling a few minutes into the contest, and that became heavy rain seven and a half minutes through, before Mother Nature decided she wanted to go the full distance and just outright bucketed down in what was more of a good day for ducks rather than Swans or Sharks, but both sides adapted to the new conditions.

It was unlucky for the Swans who could not take full advantage of the wind like the Sharks had in the first term, but after a few chances from Anderson and Tara Stribley, Swan Districts broke through. Morrison had a set shot that looked like it was a dry day, putting through a vital major, the first of the contest for the visitors to draw within five points at half-time. The work of Mikayla Hyde and Hayley Cole had been impressive, as the Swans just kept within touch at the main break.

The rain lightened up after that, with the third term more wet conditions than consistent rain, and it was Swan Districts that emerged beneficiaries despite kicking into the wind. They booted three goals to zero, holding the Sharks goalless for a second straight quarter. Off the back of some great work by Anderson, Sharp was able to get ball to boot early despite slipping over, handing her side the lead. Not long after a multitude of 50s in an undisciplined effort by the Sharks, handed dour full-back Lauren Osborne with the most unlikely of set shots from the goalsquare. The defender delivered for the Swans, extending her side’s lead out to seven points at the 10-minute mark of the quarter.

A kicking in danger call against Ruby Schleicher gave Mikayla Hyde a set shot from 30m, with the talented top-age teenager making no mistake, judging the breeze perfectly. Along with Anderson, Davison and her sister Brianna Hyde, Mikayla was willing her side to victory. With the lead out to 14 points, East Fremantle needed a response, but unfortunately could not muster anything of note as Versaci had a good old fashioned worm burner in the Sharks’ only set shot of the term.

Having to match Swan Districts’ effort of three goals against the breeze in the last quarter, the Sharks got to work looking damaging from the get-go. Katelyn Catalano got them on the board for the first time since midway through the first term, albeit soccering through a behind. Swans had moved Boucher to defence in order to add some extra experience behind the ball, but she was caught holding Sara Lewis who made no mistake from 15m out and got the ball rolling for the home team. The Swans continued to attack, but the work of Norrish, Williams and Schleicher was keeping them at bay. Morrison missed an uncharacteristic flying shot at the goal six minutes into the term to make the margin eight points, which would end up being the Swans last score of the game.

East Fremantle dominated possession the next six minutes, but it would take a defensive effort from Versaci who laid a terrific tackle, to nail a set shot from 15 metres to draw within two points. In a surprise to no one, it was O’Sullivan who popped up with the game-winner. Receiving the handball out of a stoppage, O’Sullivan put ball to boot with a clever snap to create something out of nothing and hand her side the lead with five minutes to play. Chloe Reilly almost kicked a third goal in a few minutes with the outside of the boot, but it went through the wrong sticks.

The lead was still four points, and despite Mikayla Hyde and Davison pressing up the wing great defensive pressure from the Sharks kept the Swans from advancing any further. With a couple of repeat stoppages inside 50 – and an O’Sullivan set shot that chewed her 30 seconds off the clock – the reigning premiers were able to hold on in a game that was as unpredictable as the 2020 year, and move through to face Peel Thunder in the preliminary final next week.

EAST FREMANTLE 2.2 | 2.2 | 2.2 | 5.5 (35)
SWAN DISTRICTS 0.1 | 1.3 | 4.4 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS: 

East Fremantle: S. Pluschke, L. Bird, S. Lewis, L. Versaci, K. Catalano.
Swan Districts: M. Morrison, A. Sharp, L. Osborne, M. Hyde.

ADC BEST:

East Fremantle: G. O’Sullivan, S. Wong, M. Ross, J. Norrish, A. Williams
Swan Districts: M. Hyde, B. Hyde, S. Davison, J. Cox, A. Ralph

In an equally topsy-turvy game, minor premiers Subiaco were able to hold on in a low-scoring win over Peel Thunder to book a spot in the WAFL Women’s Grand Final. The Lions booted the only two goals of the first term to lead by 13 points, before the Thunder kicked three of the next four majors to hit the front at half-time. Trailing by two points at the main break, Subiaco edged ahead courtesy of a 1.2 to 0.0 third term, and in wet conditions held on in a no-score final term. The end result was a 4.4 (28) to 3.4 (22) victory in favour of the Lions who now have a week off to await the winner of Peel Thunder and East Fremantle in the preliminary final next weekend.

Kia Buckley (two goals), Aimee Schmidt (one) and Abbey Dowrick (one) all hit the scoreboard for the Lions, while Kate Bartlett (two) and Chloe Wrigley (one) were the major goalkickers for the Thunder in defeat. Subiaco’s best were Jessica Ritchie, Tiah Haynes and Ange Stannett, while the experience of Hayley Miller was crucial. For the Thunder, Wrigley, Courtney Rowley and Tanisha Anderson were all named amongst the best and will be important in their clash next week.

Picture: (via) East Fremantle Women’s Facebook

Peel Thunders to second spot and first finals appearance

PEEL Thunder has powered to their first finals series in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, and left Claremont as the collateral damage, winning by nine points in a tight tussle on the weekend. Sitting in fifth coming into the round, but four points and percentage essentially separating second from fifth in various ways, all the teams were capable to making finals with only one to fall out. In this case, it was Peel’s 5.5 (35) to 3.8 (26) win over the then third placed Tigers to book a spot in the post-season series.

Claremont had the better start of the sides, using the wind to advantage and dominating time in forward half. By the first break, the Tigers would have six scoring shots to none on the scoreboard, but led by just 11 points, not capitalising on their chances as best they could. Both teams were missing some key players for the match, but it was Mhicca Carter who in the ninth minute of the term, got her side on the board from a free kick, playing on and snapping around her body to catch the Thunder defence off guard. It had capped off a strong first half of the term that up until that point, had not eventuated on the scoreboard.

Ella Smith was willing her team on multiple occasions, with Sasha Goranova and Brooke Whyte combining on a number of opportunities for the Tigers whilst the Thunder defence has to be given credit for holding up under heat. Tanisha Anderson was superb, particularly in the opening minutes playing off half-back, while Bella Mann on debut was lively, and the likes of Cassie Davidson and Ebony Dowson were doing well deep in defence. The Thunder were fortunate that a number of chances went begging including a late loose ball which saw the athletic Amy Franklin run onto the ball but it just escape her grasp and roll through for a behind much to the relief of Peel defender, Whitney Benson.

Turning their game around, the Thunder began to build their way back into the contest which started with a terrific Shannon Whale spoil at half-back on Whyte in opening minute. Anderson and Jade Briggs were working well in transition between defence to attack, while Laura Pugh was holding up at half-back for Claremont. On more than a number of occasions Sarah Garstone saved the day on the last line, walking it across the goalline off a tricky bounce. Soon Hannah Church got involved with a couple of shots for the Thunder missing a chance from the boundary line, but then working hard to find space 30m out on a better angle off a Tigers turnover to mark and goal at the 12-minute mark.

With Peel now on the board, it was not long before they added another with a free kick to Kira Phillips inside 50, and Kate Bartlett took the chance to play on and fire on the run to extend the lead to five points on the edge of half-time. The work of Whale, Bartlett and Ella Roberts was swinging the momentum in the home team’s favour, and while Emily Bennett and Krstel Petrevski were impressing through the midfield, it was the Thunder who were on top at the main break.

It was evident from early in the third that Peel had already adapted to kicking against the wind better in this quarter compared to the first term, and attacked from the outset. They had an early chance after an inside 50 from Chloe Wrigley to set up Krystal Carter, though the shot drifted. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise however, as Greta McKinley was paid a free kick on the line and with Bartlett hanging a couple of metres around, the AFL Women’s experienced forward knew what to do with the quick handball and snap around her body for her second.

Claremont was defending bravely, and then went on the attack, with Goranova running down Anderson at half-forward to pile on the pressure inside 50. Peel managed to clear the danger zone, but only as far as Tessa Doumanis who spotted a loose Petrevski all alone 40m straight in front. The Melbourne AFL Women’s listed player made no mistake in the eighth minute mark, kicking Claremont’s first goal since the opening term. Smith almost had a couple of chances herself close to goal after a rare Franklin set shot fell short, but a desperate Davidson rugby-tried it across the line for a rushed behind.

Peel took the momentum from the defensive efforts to again rush the ball forward and Krystal Carter had another chance from 40m which again fell short, but brought Roberts into the game with enough air to allow the talented forward to leap and pull down a grab. She made no mistake from 15 metres out and goaled for a 10-point lead. It could have been cut to less than a kick in the final moments of the term, but once again Anderson was there to save the day and cleared to safety.

Holding a handy buffer at the break it was Peel’s game to lose. The Thunder just needed to hold on for another 20 minutes and they would be through to their first ever finals series. Chewing 12 minutes of the clock by both teams defences standing up, the Thunder were gaining more confident by the minute. They just needed to create contest after contest and ensure the Tigers could not get their running game going. Whale provided another goal-saving moment when Mhicca Carter bit off a touch too much by fending off and sidestepping a number of Peel players before trying to do the same with Whale who stood her ground and won the free at half-back. It was one of those game-changing moments that summarised Peel’s efforts throughout the season.

Then despite the best efforts of Smith and Garstone in Claremont’s back 50, it was Phillips who fittingly drove the final nail in the coffin with a set shot goal in the 13th minute. Now the Tigers needed three goals in seven minutes, more than double their score to that point. They did break through with a clever snap for Mhicca Carter’s second of the day with two minutes remaining, but ultimately barring a miracle, their time had run out. Roberts had a massive run-down tackle in the final 30 seconds and when Whale charged off half-back to clear it for the Thunder it was fitting that Peel had charged into its first finals series.

PEEL THUNDER 0.0 | 2.5 | 4.5 | 5.5 (35)
CLAREMONT 1.5 | 1.6 | 2.7 | 3.8 (26)

GOALS:

Peel: K. Bartlett 2, H. Church, E. Roberts, K. Phillips.
Claremont: M. Carter 2, K. Petrevski.

ADC BEST:

Peel: S. Whale, T. Anderson, K. Bartlett, H. Church, E. Roberts
Claremont: S. Goranova, K. Petrevski, E. Smith, M. Carter, E. Bennett

In other matches, South Fremantle played out of its skin against top of the table Subiaco in what was by far its most impressive performance to date. While the Bulldogs ended the season winless, they showed great signs against the minor premiers, going down by just 14 points in the final round. They conceded just one goal in the second half whilst booting three themselves, though the Lions still got the job done, 6.11 (47) to 5.3 (33). Subiaco coach Amy Lavell made a surprise return from retirement to boot three goals in the win, with Tiah Haynes, Aimee Schmidt and Maggie Maclachlan kicking the other majors. Tarnica Golisano and Holly Hyder were nominated as the Lions best, whilst the Bulldogs had five individual goalkickers. Tahlia McRoberts, Lauren Vecchio and Kiara Templeton all impressed in the losing side, while Fremantle ruck Mim Strom got a game in before the end of the season.

In the crucial season-on-the-line clash, reigning premiers East Fremantle kept their 2020 hopes alive with the Sharks getting the job done in a three-point thriller over Swan Districts. Ironically the result meant the teams go at it next week again in a do-or-die semi-final, and the Sharks will hope to start better (goalless in the first half), whilst the Swans will hope to finish better (one goal after quarter time). Alex Williams, Katelyn Catalano and Gabby O’Sullivan all booted majors for the Sharks, as Ruby Schleicher and Maddy Ross stepped up to be named among the best. For the Swans, it was Ashley Sharp, Brianna Hyde and Mikayla Morrison who converted opportunities in front of goal, while Eliza Gelmi and Aimee Ralph were nominated as Swan Districts’ best.

Talented Morrison learns to adapt in new system, eyes improvement

ALWAYS an eye-catching player, Mikayla Morrison has never been short of a highlight or two. The Swan Districts young star and AFL Women’s Academy member spoke to Draft Central about her journey through the West Australian pathway, busy schedule and hopes for the Swans’ season ahead.

Like a number of aspiring AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, Morrison played Aussie rules as a child before stopping for a few years and taking it up again as an older teenager. Already she has represented a number of teams at school, club and state level.

“I started liking footy when my older cousin came and lived with us,” Morrison said. “Then I just started playing with school which was Lockridge Primary. “Like just in the little girls carnivals. “Then I didn’t start playing club until Year 7, which was at Bassendean Junior Football Club. I stopped footy for a bit after that year and then I went to East Perth in 2016. “Then I was with them until 2019 and then I moved to Swans this year to play League footy.”

Without a League side in 2020, the move from the Royals to the Swans made sense, and Morrison joined a raft of other AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, including fellow Women’s Academy member Shanae Davisonwho spoke to us last week – and other talents who have impressed on a national stage such as Nyra Anderson, and Mikayla and Brianna Hyde.

Much like other talented West Australian footballers, Morrison was named in the State Academy and represented the Black Ducks at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. Alongside the likes of Anderson and the Hyde sisters, Morrison was able to shine on some of the biggest stages. Her efforts earned her a place in the AFL Women’s National Academy – something she admits she had never heard of – despite not rating her own performance at the carnival too highly.

It’s (WA Academy) been really good,” Morrison said. “I only started that in 2018, I started in 16s. “Then 2019 moved up to 18s which was a pretty good step and then from there, got chosen for National Academy as well. At first I didn’t even know what it was. “I had no idea, but then when I realised what it was I felt really proud of myself because in the championships I thought I didn’t play that well.”

Morrison described running out on Metricon Stadium as “unreal” and it just felt “really cool” to be able to play on an AFL ground on the other side of the country. While the midfielder-forward admitted she was nervous at first, she soon settled in, and then took a mark that few would be likely to forget.

“At first it felt like I let my nerves take over me, but as the game went on I started to feel more comfortable and started to play my own game,” Morrison said. “As I took that (mark), I felt so good because I’ve never obviously taken something like that before. “Looking back at it, the video, I dunno it just felt really good.”

While Morrison has spent the majority of her time inside 50, the athletic and smart player said she sees herself as a midfielder in the future. Morrison said the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships helped with her footy smarts, enabling her to get to ball-winning positions and become more involved around the ground. It also allowed her to make new friends, forming connections through mutual friends she had played with in previous carnivals.

I did get to mingle with the other girls, with a lot of the Indigenous girls,” Morrison said. “We played other carnivals together like the Woomeras and Kickstart, so I got to see them again. “Which was pretty good and they just introduced me to their other teammates, and got to know them.”

Morrison said while she wanted to become more of a midfielder, she admitted her fitness was an area of improvement, something her coaches have pushed her to improve in the coming weeks.

I feel like I’m more of a midfield player but I feel like it was my fitness letting me down a bit, I just needed to get that up,” she said. “Along with fitness, it would be my composure when I’m running with the ball (as another area of improvement). “I got told a few times on the weekend that I sometimes rush it, so I need to compose myself and take my time.”

Morrison’s strengths include her athleticism, in particular her speed and overhead marking, with her precision kicking and tackling pressure also among her better attributes. It has helped her adapt to a new side, having captained East Perth last year, but now representing Swan Districts. She admitted it has been a big change for her, but her teammates have been terrific.

It’s been a lot different,” she said. “Because now I’m one of the youngest. “They’ve been really welcoming, and because I’ve known most of the girls through state and through the community. “I think I’ve adapted pretty well, just getting to know everyone.”

The team has gelled well off the field, and now Morrison believes it is time they gelled on it, with some promising signs, but so many young players and limited time playing together has made it difficult to start strongly. They won their opening round clash, but have dropped the past two matches to arguably the two best sides at the moment.

I feel like we’re going fine,” Morrison said. “I just feel like we haven’t gelled properly yet because we have a lot of new people this year. “We are a young side, but I think we all get along well, but on the field it’s more of a gelling thing.”

Off the field, Morrison is at university where she is studying pre-medicine. Not yet decided on her major field of focus, she has narrowed it down to either nursing, medicine or physio. The extra workload has been pretty tough for the teenager who said she might have preferred to do Year 12 in her top-age year, but also conceded that could be due to the extra workload of a medical degree.

At the moment it’s pretty full on because I’m at uni at the moment studying pre-med and some classes I have later in the day, so I have to rush around for training, but that’s about it,” she said.

Morrison credits her cousin Darnell Morrison as her greatest inspiration and support coming through the pathway and on her football journey. Helping her get into the sport she loves, as well as providing plenty of tips along the way, Morrison said he was a huge influence on her growing up.

“He’s the one that got me into footy and he’d always come down to my games and give me tips,” she said. “When I was younger he took me out to kick the footy, and just watching him made me really want to play.”

Now in her draft year, Morrison said she is always keen to develop her game, and while the two AFL Women’s clubs who could be eligible to draft her do not directly communicate, there is a strong communication channel from the elite level to the up and coming players through the terrific West Australian Academy.

I don’t get much feedback directly from the two clubs, it’s mostly through state,” she said. “I’ll just find that ‘Deggers’ (Clint Degebrodt, Talent Manager – Female Programs) will just text me if the two clubs have something to say or any feedback. “So yeah it’s mostly through State Academy.”

The 2020 season has been like none other and whilst the season has been shortened, Morrison said she was just glad to get back into the action.

“Yeah it (pre-season) was a bit much.” she said. “Just trainings after trainings after trainings, but then with some trainings we’d do scratch matches after training so we wouldn’t be out of it. “But yeah, it got a bit much. “I was just glad when Round 1 came around.”

Now preparing for a Round 5 clash with reigning premiers, East Fremantle at home, Morrison said she believes the Swans have the capability of turning around their couple of losses and posting some wins on the board on the run home.

I still have high hopes, I think we could still make finals,” she said. “We just have to really put our heads down and gel this weekend.”