Tag: Eastern Ranges

NAB League season preview: Eastern Ranges

EASTERN Ranges Talent Manager Sean Toohey is looking forward to his second season in the role, with a number of top-agers this year filling key roles in their bottom-age year in 2018. Toohey came on board a month out from the start of the TAC Cup season, and while the year itself was not one of the Ranges’ finest seasons, Toohey is confident the experience from 2018 will hold the side in a strong position this year.

“I came into the role in late February so it was a bit of a baptism of fire but it was a great learning year from a personal perspective,” Toohey said. “But from an Eastern Ranges perspective obviously (it was) pretty difficult with only the two wins and no draftees which is what we are here to do. “We managed to get a few boys onto VFL lists and what we did do was we were pretty bottom-age heavy and we managed to get a lot of game time into our bottom agers, so that should hold us in pretty good stead this year, who are now top-agers, so looking forward to it.”

Toohey said the training over the off-season had been promising with higher fitness levels than the previous year, and seemingly more prepared with the extra year in the system. While injuries have struck the club, Toohey said the practice matches in the lead-up to Round 1 had given the Ranges plenty to work with and are looking forward to the challenge against one of the strong NAB League sides, in Oakleigh Chargers.

“We’ve had a really good summer, we’ve probably had the longer term injuries like most clubs would have, we’ve got a handful of them,” he said. “But generally we’ve been pretty healthy, the boys I think are a lot fitter this year and dare I say, a lot stronger as well so there’s been a lot of focus on education in relation to their conditioning and the boys have embraced it. “Then from a football perspective we’ve had our practice matches now. “Obviously round 1 this week and I think we we’ve probably acquitted ourselves against Gippsland and Calder, and are obviously just excited for round 1 to come around and see where we are at against Oakleigh Chargers who on all accounts are a pretty good team. “

Some talented Ranges are already showing signs of a promising year after strong practice match performances.

“Yeah I think Billy McCormick, he’s a key forward, had a really big summer, hasn’t missed a session and that’s transferred into his early games that we’ve played and match sim internally,” Toohey said. “His work rate has been huge and is giving himself every chance to perform this year and is starting to clunk a few big marks. So if he can just finish off his work in front of goal he sets himself up for a really big year. “Lachlan Stapleton is another one that has had a big summer, he played really well in practice matches and he probably would’ve had close to 30 touches and three goals in the midfield on the weekend. “He is also very gifted technically, a relentless tackler and is probably one of the most professional players we have on our list. “He should have a good season all going well. “

 

Toohey said the Ranges’ top prospect, Jamieson Rossiter did not play against Calder Cannons, but said he was impressive in the game against Gippsland Power, and will spend some time in the midfield as well as his natural position up forward. An over-ager to keep an eye on is Cody Hirst who had a “rotten run” with injuries in his top-age year and has returned to the Ranges and will rotate between wing and high half-forward.Toohey said Hirst is “electrifying when he gets the ball with his pace and the angles he cuts and can hit the scoreboard and provides really good defensive pressure”.

 

Add in developing key defender James Blanck, and 2018 best and fairest winner, Mitch Mellis and the Ranges have a good core to rely upon in season 2019.

 

“There are a couple more I’d throw into that category as well, Mitch Mellis, he won our best and fairest as a bottom-ager last year,” Toohey said. “He will probably transition more into a small forward role this year, probably won our best and fairest playing on a wing. “He’s 174cm so we probably want to expose him at the next level, he could play a small forward role, however he will still get up the ground on a wing because he’s also our best runner. “James Blanck, he was very close to getting drafted last year in his first year in the system, it was a big learning curve for him. “He’s added a little bit of bulk to his frame, he’ll still play key defence for us, his strengths are his intercept marking and his athleticism and backing himself to repel the football, so he will look to continue on with that and hopefully we see another progressive season from him.”

 

While the top-age group will make up the bulk of the side after becoming established players last season, there are still a number of bottom-agers to watch. Toohey said the 2002-born crop have some slick ball users with high smarts that will set them apart throughout the next 18 months.

 

Josh Clarke is quite slight but he’s played across half-back and on a wing, and if he gets the ball and tucks it under his arm and runs and takes the game on he uses it quite well by foot. “So Josh will play some footy for us this year and will acquit himself quite well. “Connor Downie is another one who’s probably a half-back flanker that is a good size, 184(cm) and probably 78, 79 kilos. “Beautiful left foot kick, played Vic Metro Under 16s last year. “He’s a Hawthorn NGA so he has set himself up for a big year as well, diligent as a trainer that we’ve got. “Then there’s Sal Feagaimalii another bottom ager, he’s also a Hawthorn NGA. “He’s been in our starting midfield as a bottom-ager this year so far and he’s done very well, he’s a big body, he’s a beautiful left and right kick, has good hands, good vision, reads it well off stoppages and off hands. “He’s another one we are looking to develop through the midfield this year and see how that goes as a bottom-ager.”

 

In 2019, Eastern is looking to improve on its two-win season from 2018, but the focus remains squarely on development and getting more players drafted into the AFL after a barren year last year following the bonanza that was 2017 with 11 players selected. This year, the playing group has determined how they want to be renowned on the field, settling on a competitive and never-say-die attitude, win, lose or draw.

 

Yeah probably something that the players themselves came up with is that they want to strive to be “relentless” in the way they go about their footy,” Toohey said. “It’s a very difficult thing to maintain at all times but at least if they think they are striving for it then they are going to get the best out of themselves and each other and hold each other to those standards that they’re setting for themselves so they’re a really mature group, they’re led well, they’re a united group.”

 

Eastern Ranges begin their season on Sunday when they tackle Oakleigh Chargers at RSEA Park, Moorabbin.

Team Selection: NAB League Girls – Round 2

TEAMS have brought in a number of talented players for Round 2 of the NAB League Girls competition as sides strive to either back up strong performances from Round 1, or hope to bounce back from losses in the opening round. Georgia Patrikios (Calder Cannons) has been named on the bench having missed the first round, while Millie Brown (Murray Bushrangers) and Molly McDonald (Dandenong Stingrays) are also back into their respective sides, certain to boost the team’s chances of victory.

After two triple headers in Round 1, the six games are spread across six different venues, from Bendigo to Ballarat, Geelong to Yarrawonga, Moorabbin to Bundoora in a chance for spectators across the state to take in some terrific football action. Below are how the 12 teams have been named for the weekend’s action.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. EASTERN RANGES

Round 2 – 16/03/2019
12:45pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve – Bendigo

BENDIGO PIONEERS

B: 25. K. Hazlett, 36. K. Douglass, 24. S. Oliver
HB: 28. E. Gretgrix, 40. T. Slender, 46. K. Mitchell
C: 3. E. Snell, 33. B. Heiden, 1. M. Tupper
HF: 14. A. Strahan, 30. H. Stewart, 20. D. Villiva
F: 50. M. Barton, 44. J. Jolliffe, 9. T. Miaoudis
R: 37. G. Sladden, 19. J. Finning, 4. B. Hards
Int: 34. E. Cooper, 48. D. Kelly-Guthrie, 26. C. Mitchell, 41. E. Peacock

EASTERN RANGES

B: 17. M. Kendall, 51. S. Zappia, 54. E. Odria
HB: 11. M. Edwards, 49. C. Wilsmore, 1. C. Smith
C: 29. M. Di Cosmo, 39. L. McClelland, 20. J. Richardson
HF: 26. T. Brown, 41. T. Merrett, 48. I. Khoury
F: 31. S. Collard, 46. S. Gibbs, 12. M. Taverna
R: 25. J. Grace, 33. T. Flintoff, 21. O. Meagher
Int: 44. S. Bowden, 23. M. Church, 35. L. Hilton, 16. E. Horne

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 2 – 16/03/2019
12:45pm
Mars Stadium – Ballarat

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

B: 2. Z. Denahy, 16. L. Sykes, 11. L. Donegan
HB: 5. N. Butler, 27. G. Pidgeon, 12. V. Jewell
C: 13. B. Thompson, 24. S. Molan, 3. A. Trigg
HF: 29. P. Metcalfe, 34. K. Harris, 28. I. Robson
F: 6. M. Ciavarella, 23. I. Rustman, 9. R. Saulitis
R: 35. M. Caris, 10. E. Wood, 15. C. Leonard
Int: 1. L. Condon, 20. E. Friend, 21. A. Stevens, 4. K. Tomkins

CALDER CANNONS

B: 24. K. Delia, 6. K. Reid, 36. Z. Penno
HB: 32. T. Fry, 35. I. Young, 41. G. Prespakis
C: 8. Z. Friswell, 31. K. Petrevski, 3. E. Yassir
HF: 46. G. Elarmaly, 18. T. Gillard, 34. Z. Hardiman
F: 22. M. Muller, 44. I. McNeill-Wren, 2. F. Theodore
R: 49. T. Crook, 11. A. Barba, 38. L. Cocomello
Int: 1. H. Cooke, 43. C. Leahy, 25. A. Magri, 21. G. Patrikios

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 2 – 17/03/2019
12:45pm
La Trobe University – Bundoora

NORTHERN KNIGHTS

B: 32. A. Snow, 2. S. Fell, 34. M. Uwland
HB: 10. P. Chisholm, 18. S. Sansonetti, 17. C. Fitzgerald
C: 6. A. Bannan, 21. E. McKenzie, 9. M. Chaplin
HF: 7. A. Bennett, 23. G. Newton, 29. T. Pulcino
F: 20. C. Linssen, 3. N. Morris-Dalton, 25. T. Mills
R: 1. J. Nelson, 14. J. Fitzgerald, 22. B. Gutknecht
Int: 11. M. Appleby, 16. Z. Flanigan, 30. M. Plunkett, 36. T. Smart
Emg: 8. G. Ceravolo, 24. J. Nursey, 26. M. Papachristos, 35. J. Simpson

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

B: 2. M. Hill, 26. A. Micallef, 29. C. Rowbottom
HB: 33. E. Chamberlain, 12. A. Peck, 18. C. O’Malley
C: 34. G. Larkey, 17. N. Xenos, 22. J. Lin
HF: 1. G. Lagioia, 10. T. Cowan, 5. A. van Oosterwijck
F: 11. M. Bertuna, 15. C. Russell, 4. E. Harley
R: 3. K. Kearns, 8. A. Porter, 32. E. James
Int: 14. G. Byrne, 9. E. Jackson, 38. D. Lloyd, 31. S. Morley, 13. T. Morton, 21. S. Reid

GEELONG FALCONS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 2 – 17/03/2019
12:45pm
Deakin University – Geelong

GEELONG FALCONS

B: 7. M. Holdsworth, 21. A. Chapman, 44. J. Robinson
HB: 16. E. Mahoney, 32. K. Haustorfer , 11. D. Smith
C: 12. L. Gardiner, 23. L. Lesosky-Hay, 28. A. Sanderson
HF: 24. M. Skinner, 8. P. Sheppard, 1. E. Vella
F: 34. S. Milsome, 39. R. Tierney, 25. L. Ryan
R: 20. S. Hovey, 38. L. McEvoy, 18. D. Moloney
Int: 14. Z. Garth, 37. A. Lee, 46. A. McKee, 4. P. Schaap
Emg: 36. M. Featherston , 6. T. Hassett, 45. T. Lewis

GIPPSLAND POWER

B: 19. H. Booth, 47. E. Williams, 7. L. Raymond
HB: 26. G. McRae, 45. M. Van Berkel, 9. M. Shaw
C: 13. H. Andrews, 8. C. Abrahams , 30. A. Rippon
HF: 2. S. Beaton, 27. N. Webber, 40. C. Robinson
F: 3. M. Gilmour, 50. G. Matser, 11. S. Walker
R: 49. G. Radford, 12. M. Fitzsimon, 17. S. Trewin
Int: 15. C. Bailey, 20. J. Chila, 16. A. Hardwick, 21. C. Prestidge
Emg: 1. S. Brisbane, 24. N. Williams

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 2 – 17/03/2019
12:45pm
J.C. Lowe Oval – Yarrawonga

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

B: 24. H. Doohan, 44. M. Quade, 6. C. Hargreaves
HB: 14. C. Boschetti, 43. A. Williams, 10. S. Locke
C: 7. K. Adams, 19. M. Brown, 8. A. Favell
HF: 31. M. Trethowan, 45. O. Barber, 37. T. Verhoeven
F: 18. Z. Spencer, 34. E. McPherson, 40. K. Whitehead
R: 39. A. Morphett, 22. A. Richardson, 11. T. Brett
Int: 2. O. Antonello, 33. E. Mifka, 21. C. Styan , 27. J. Ward
Emg: 16. M. Jones, 20. S. Lang, 41. L. Sharp

WESTERN JETS

B: 19. A. Anthony, 11. K. O’Keefe, 20. T. Kolevski
HB: 1. M. Huta, 23. I. Pritchard, 15. N. Wright
C: 13. I. Grant, 9. R. Tripodi, 16. H. Herring
HF: 6. E. Kiely, 25. C. Saxon-Jones, 8. O. Millar
F: 5. I. Cavka, 26. C. Weston-Sirett, 14. L. Wright
R: 22. C. Singleton, 12. E. Quinn, 17. E. Georgostathis
Int: 10. T. Evans, 30. T. Kotoski, 24. J. Mwaka, 21. E. Robinson

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 2 – 17/03/2019
1:00pm
RSEA Park – Moorabbin

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

B: 57. C. Bowen, 24. N. Borg, 44. D. Walker
HB: 38. G. Strangio, 25. S. Hartwig, 7. R. Woods
C: 42. M. Purcell, 17. B. Arnold, 26. C. Saultry
HF: 33. I. Eddey, 2. S. Rothfield, 40. A. Moloney
F: 65. E. Angelopoulos, 1. M. Denahy Maloney, 29. I. Stutt
R: 13. T. Grasso, 22. E. McNamara, 28. A. Burke
Int: 15. C. Cody, 30. W. Laing, 21. E. Turner , 58. T. Tysoe
Emg: 47. K. Lynch, 3. C. Murphy, 50. P. Staltari

DANDENONG STINGRAYS

B: 14. L. Grocock, 51. Z. Hill, 17. M. Layfield
HB: 32. J. Radford, 50. A. Nagtzaam, 31. B. Vernon
C: 21. G. Hodder, 28. T. Smith, 10. A. Jordan
HF: 48. A. Carroll, 24. A. Liddle, 20. P. Wilson-Macdonald
F: 2. S. Stratton, 49. K. McKenzie, 55. H. Thomas
R: 58. G. Howes, 12. M. McDonald, 26. I. Shannon
Int: 40. R. Clancy – Dillon, 23. D. Fennell, 4. J. Guy-Toogood, 53. O. Mauerhofer, 34. A. Richards

U18 Girls season preview: Eastern Ranges

EASTERN Ranges will field a virtually new side in the Under 18 Girls competition this year after 17 top-age players left at the end of last season. Now the Ranges will look to their next crop of youngsters to stand tall and follow on from the impressive first couple of seasons.

Female Talent Manager, Jessie Mulholland said the Ranges were pleased with the amount of girls who made Vic Metro squads, and played in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition.

“We thought that we had a really successful year, we had I think overall 11 girls between the 16’s and Under 18 Metro teams. We then had 13 girls on VFLW lists and then obviously the three drafted in Charlotte (Wilson), Emerson (Woods), and Mikala (Cann). So, for us and as a talent manager coming in for the first year, I don’t think we had as much success as the first year, but we were pretty wrapped with the girls but we also had a lot of talent – we had 17 top-agers, whereas this year we’re looking at about eight so we’ve lost a lot of talent coming into this year, we’re a lot younger. You can definitely tell with the skills but also how quiet it is around the group, obviously losing 17 18-year olds it’s a big drop off so we were really happy with last year and really excited for this season to start.”

The Ranges were keeping touch with the top two sides early in the season, but a shock loss to the previously winless Western Jets put a dint in their season. It did however teach the side plenty of important lessons.

“I agree (it somewhat derailed the season),” Mulholland said. “In saying that I think it was a good eye-opener for the girls – a lot were really disappointed, but they (Western Jets) obviously beat us on the day and they deserved the win, and to see how upset the girls were you obviously knew how much they wanted it. “They can’t win every game so I think for us mentally it was a good game to lose, to think you can’t just come in thinking and assuming that because you’re higher on the ladder that you’re going to win if you don’t show up on the day. “For the girls to be as upset as they were took us a few days to get over, but they came out the week after and obviously our next loss was against Calder in the rain.”

The Calder loss provided the Ranges with a lesson in wet weather football, as a future AFL Women’s star ran the side ragged.

“It was pouring down rain, it was probably our first game in the rain,” Mulholland said. “They beat us on the day too and (Madison) Prespakis was all over the ground so look, we can only get better and obviously we learn from the losses but in saying that, the girls should learn what a loss feels like because they’re not going to win every single game for the rest of their careers so for us that was probably the bigger lesson that we learnt than anything else.”

Looking ahead to 2019, AFL Women’s Academy top-age talent, Laura McClelland is the one to watch.

“She’s looking great, we’ve sort of got a kicking coach with her at the moment – that’s probably one of her weaknesses and she knows that, so we’re making sure that that’s ready to go and she’s confident in that,” Mulholland said. “She’s really excited about the season and we’re just sort of really getting ready to start and dying for this month to just fly through so we can start playing some games.”

Mulholland said McClelland will rotate between the midfield and forward as she looks to give her the greatest exposure to AFL Women’s recruiters.

“For the top-agers we try and look at where AFL clubs would want them to play so some of our top-agers may play in positions that they probably didn’t play in last year,” she said. “There’s a few girls that are coming in that haven’t played with us before and they’ll play in positions that we can see AFL or VFLW clubs looking at them for – looking at their strengths and weaknesses and where they’re going to be drafted. “‘Mac’ will play forward, but have a run in the midfield at some point as well.”

As well as McClelland, Mulholland named Tahlia Merrett and Victorian Netball League (VNL) netballer, Serena Gibbs as other top-age players to watch, while bottom-age talents Olivia Meagher and Tahni Brown are those with high potential for the future.

“They’re really exciting,” Mulholland said. “It’s shocking to see that we have still have another two years with them – their draft year will be next year so you sort of have parents or clubs talking to you about them, so you can’t actually tell that they’re still so young and middle-age for us. “Olivia’s really pumped up, she’s been with Collingwood through the Academy for the past few months so she’s learning a lot from them and they’ve shown up to every training session, they’ve loved it and they’re just ready to go. “They’re probably starting mids and they’re really exciting to watch – to think that we have them for another two years is just unbelievable.”

Mulholland said 19 year-old Gibbs would provide a tall target with plenty of development throughout the season.

“She’s probably the tallest player on our list and is as I said, really raw like Mikala (Cann) – obviously not as short as Mikala but she’ll be exciting,” Mulholland said. “We can teach her and shell soak everything up and we’re really excited just to watch her play some practice matches and see what she can do.”

Mulholland said she was hopeful about what the season could produce but knew it would have its challenges considering the youth of the side.

“We’re really excited,” she said. “We are very young, so we sort of look at ourselves like the Knights did last year and they were absolutely babies and got into a grand final so we’re obviously not writing ourselves off. “We’re very raw, but we’re really excited – we’ve got about eight bottom-agers where the majority could be picked into the Vic Metro squad, so what’s coming through in years to come is really exciting for us and our top-agers are really exciting as well. “We would’ve thought last year we were going to be closer to the top than what we were but obviously the Jets and Calder games didn’t do us many favours. “But yeah, we’re really excited and happy with our lists and what this region provides for these girls – it’s exciting and we’re just raring to go.”

Eastern Ranges begin their season on March 3 with a clash against Dandenong Stingrays at Skybus Stadium in Frankston.

Eastern Ranges duo set to debut in AFLW

THE Eastern Ranges have plenty to be happy about with three players drafted in the 2018 AFL Women’s Draft. Both Mikala Cann and Emerson Woods are set to make their debut for their respective AFLW sides this weekend, while defender Charlotte Wilson has not yet been named to take the field for Carlton.

Having never played football until last year Cann was a real shining light for the Ranges with her impressive athleticism and speed to burn. Eastern Ranges’ Female Talent Manager Jessie Mulholland, highlighted Cann’s raw talent and growth throughout the season.

“Following her journey, we were obviously her first introduction into football,” Mulholland said. “So to see her go from there, to Vic Metro, to All Australian, to Hawthorn premiership team and now into Collingwood and being selected to play in Geelong for Round 1 on Saturday is really exciting.”

Standing at 173cm, Cann proved that height is no object using her dynamism to burst through packs and clean hands to get through congestion. The former basketballer showed she has plenty of class and with the right direction could be a real force to be reckoned with on the footy field.

“With the dual athletes it’s really exciting how much they can transfer from each sport,” Mulholland said. “Athletes already coming into a program they’re ready to soak up as much information, so all you had to do is tell her don’t stand here stand here instead and she’d pick it up.”

Cann is set to lineup for the Magpies in their first game of the 2019 season against Geelong. With her excellent athleticism and general footy smarts Cann will be a welcomed inclusion in the Collingwood line-up who have been left without some serious star power after several key players departed in the off-season.

Meanwhile Woods will also be pulling on the navy blue for the first time this weekend. Woods who played predominantly through the midfield will provide plenty of speed and class across the ground making her a real asset for Carlton who struggled last season. Woods played with Cann at Eastern and Hawthorn and showed that she plays hard and knows how to win, having played in the premiership with the Hawks in the VFLW.

Though Woods has plenty of on-field skills it was her leadership that was a real feature of her game at Eastern, often leading from the front. While being at Hawthorn also helped to foster those attributes with the likes of Sarah Perkins and Meg Hutchins playing a role in her development.

“Emerson has always been a leader and I think she thrived in that environment [at Hawthorn] and they really welcomed those girls,” Mulholland said.

Both Cann and Woods proved that they are not afraid of the big stage and are capable of mixing it with more experienced players.

From Eastern to Hawthorn, Ranges duo celebrate flag

EASTERN Ranges duo Mikala Cann and Emerson Woods have basked in the glory of a Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s premiership yesterday. The Ranges and now Hawthorn midfielder/forwards just “played their role” as they said, in Hawthorn’s 13-point victory over Geelong. Cann finished the game with 14 disposals, one mark and a team-high nine tackles, while Woods’ defensive pressure saw her also lay five tackles to go with two touches.

Both players were thrilled after the game, hardly believing the moment.

“It’s just surreal,” Woods said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting this, just coming at such a young age as well coming into the team, just to get a spot (is good) I suppose.” Cann was equally as excited. “You can’t describe it,” she said. “Winning a premiership with the best group of girls, it’s indescribable”

Woods said the speed of the game was the crucial difference between the TAC Cup Girls and VFL Women’s.

“It’s much faster, quick ball movement, pretty hard to keep up at times, but it’s good,” Woods said. Cann said she felt the bigger presence of opponents out there and stronger bodies. “(It’s) a lot more physical, the bodies are larger, but I guess you want to be playing at the highest level so this is one step closer.”

The last quarter saw the game on a knife’s edge and Geelong was attacking fiercely throughout the second half. Cann said the team knew the Cats would come at them, and had prepared for the momentum swing.

“We prepared what we had to do at training with our composure,” she said. “We just knew what we had to do and we implemented it.”

Woods said the most amazing feeling was with the clock counting down, knowing they would soon be premiership players.

“Yeah towards the end of the game, it was a bit of a surreal feeling with 30 seconds to go knowing that we’d won it,” she said.

Now both draft-eligible players will prepare for the AFL Women’s Draft Combine next week ahead of the AFL Women’s Draft in late October.

Cann powers home with remarkable improvement

IF there is one player in the TAC Cup Girls competition who has come from the back of the pack to storm home in the final straight, it is Eastern Ranges’ Mikala Cann. Having starred as a sprinter, and enjoyed playing basketball, Cann decided to try her hand at football once her friends were taking up the sport.

“I was playing basketball before I played footy and a lot of my mates started playing so I think that was the biggest influence and I really love the physically side of basketball, so coming to footy it’s all about the physicality and I really loved that part,” Cann said. “That was the main influence right there.”

Having rocked up to Eastern Ranges try-outs in the pre-season and not sure what to expect, Cann not only managed to hold her own, she caused some jaw-dropping reactions with her ability to use her great combination of speed and strength in advantage. Eastern Ranges Female Talent Manager Jessie Mulholland singled out Cann as one to watch from the pre-season.

“Mikala Cann – she has never played football in her life and she’s definitely going to be a utility player [to watch],” Mulholland said. “She can run out of that 50 insanely. “She played midfield on the weekend [vs. Calder two weekends ago] and the way she can get that ball out of the centre square will be incredible to watch for somebody that has no idea. “Basically we have to teach her the rules from scratch.”

The assessment was something Cann could relate to, admitting the rules were an area she had to learn.

“I think it was the knowledge that a lot of the other girls had because they had that first year playing at Eastern and that was the difference,” Cann said. “Me trying to learn all the structures and the positions and just really learning about the game. “That was the biggest thing, really trying to learn where the ball is and where to stand and all that. But they’ve done really well and taught me a lot, so I’ve learnt a lot, it’s been really good.”

Cann said the development at the Ranges was first class and has helped her rapid rise to Vic Metro and named in the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year.

“Absolutely (love it),” the Eastern Ranges midfielder said. “I reckon I enjoy it (footy) more than basketball, I enjoy Eastern, there are such good people around. “I’ve loved every minute of it, it’s been so good. “I played a bit at school footy, but it was more just running around with mates. “It wasn’t really intensive skills or that. “I was just trying to kick a few snags, not in terms of technical stuff we do here.”

Cann said the physical nature of the game is what attracted her to the sport, and what she considered to be a major strength in her game.

“I think my strengths and what they really try teach me to do and focus on is my in and under, so tackling, and pressure and then trying to burst away from the contest too,” she said. “Getting in and under and getting it out and getting away too. “My physical side I try to focus on most.”

Along with her continued game sense, Cann said she was learning to kick on her opposite foot “as much as she didn’t want to”.

“Obviously the knowledge of the game,” she said. “Getting to the contests and knowing where the ball’s going to be, where to stand, how to read the tap from ruckman’s tap, they’re the biggest one. “Also my skill level too. “Using my left side, as much as I don’t want to, I have to as you get higher up, you’re going to need to start.”

Such has been Cann’s rise in the football ranks that the sprinter is now on the verge of a finals appearance for Hawthorn in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition. Once told of her call-up to Hawthorn intially, Cann could hardly believe it.

“Not really at all (expecting to be picked for VFLW), I was just trying to get picked every week,” Cann said. “I was really focusing on VFL and/or higher up and I think just focusing on each week has enabled me to really try and play the best each week and not really focus on it. “I like thinking in the now, rather than the future. “That’s really enabled me, but I never really thought about it.”

Cann said the close bond at Eastern made it an enjoyable year, and heading to the Gold Coast with so many teammates – and head coach Tom Humphrey – made it an easy transition into Vic Metro. The eye-catching runner said the team success had made everyone better players.

“I thought that we played really well against some really top quality sides and I think we developed and we got better as we got on, which is the best thing that can really happen is your improvement and individually,” Cann said. “I feel like I played well when the team played well. “When the team’s up and about, it gets everyone up and about.”

Cann said she was lucky not to have too much travel involved with her football saying she enjoyed the road trips.

“It’s not too bad, fortunately enough, mum loves coming to my games so she’ll always drive me,” she said. “I really like the driving to the games, the experience and the excitement for a game, I dunno, I love it. It’s not too bad.”

As for the next step in her career? Cann was determined to make it as high up as possible.

“Yeah to get drafted is the end-goal,” Cann said. “I guess that’s for everyone, but we’ll see how we go.”

From “definitely not” interested in footy; Woods eyes off an AFLW career

FROM never intending to play football at all let alone at the highest level, Eastern Ranges co-captain Emerson Woods has certainly changed her tune of the past couple of years, going from strength to strength. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Woods found her love for the game after a while and now her sights are firmly set on achieving the AFL Women’s dream.

“No definitely not (always wanting to play Australian rules),” Woods said. “I didn’t really have any intentions of playing footy at all, it’s probably I didn’t really think about it playing it at Mount Evelyn. “But as soon as I got up in the ranks and playing at Eastern Ranges I thought it could be something to work towards.”

Having started out at Mount Evelyn and playing there a couple of seasons, Woods was just enjoying getting used to the sport, then things ramped up.

“Obviously I wasn’t expecting much from just playing local,” Woods said. “Obviously i was just there for a bit of fun but everything came on top of each other. “Eastern Ranges and Vic and everything. “It was pretty full on and pretty fun.”

Woods represented Vic Metro at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, something she has cherished having played alongside so many talented players.

“It’s been really good obviously getting to know the girls and getting to play against them,” she said. “They are some of the best talent in the state, it’s been amazing playing with them.”

Woods said her athletic ability – her endurance, speed and agility – have helped her adapt faster to the increasing pace of the game. She also identifies her kicking and fundamental skills as the biggest focus for her improvement. The midfielder-forward has embraced everything that football has given to her and she now feels involved in the community as well as the club.

“The community, the club, everyone’s super nice,” she said. “You can really get to know heaps of people, it’s not just about the sport, it’s about the community around you and the people you get to know as well.”

Representing the AFL Women’s Academy against the Geelong Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side at GMHBA Stadium was a surreal experience, much like her call-up to Hawthorn’s VFL Women’s team.

“It’s (Hawthorn call-up) pretty amazing,” Woods said. “It feels a bit surreal, but I’m really excited to get out there with them. “It was a really good experience, obviously first time playing against women, great to get to know the feel of the bodies and what I have to come up against in the future playing at Hawthorn.”

Her workload has also been a challenge, juggling between school and football, at one stage having five SACs in the week following Vic Metro training on the Sunday. Woods is also still unsure of a career path just yet, purely focusing on getting through her final year of schooling.

But has the player who had no interest in playing football at the highest level changed her mind?

“Yeah definitely,” she said. “I’m working towards it (being drafted), it’s a long road ahead still but I think there’s a lot of opportunities out there for me.”

Love of the game inspires De Angelis to chase AFLW dream

LAST year, Eastern Ranges midfielder, Gabriella De Angelis used football as a method of stress relief to calm her nerves.

Now, the 17 year-old has instilled the belief in herself to try and achieve her ultimate goal, thanks to her love of the sport.

“I do (have my sights set on AFLW),” she said. “Since about last year… I said I was just going to play and just go back to loving the game because I’ve always played because I love the game. “So now I’m just going to give it my best shot and see how I go.”

De Angelis discovered her love of the game at a very young age when she began playing Auskick. Even after taking a hiatus from the game, she admits that she still loved playing and was glad that she picked up the sport again.  

“I was playing Auskick at Donvale and then moved with the boys in under 11s and under 12s I think for two or three seasons, and then I stopped because I didn’t think there was anything, I didn’t know there was a girls competition,” De Angelis said. “So I had a break for a season and a bit and then someone told me they were playing footy. “I joined Whitehorse and stayed there ever since and I’ve just loved it.”

Along with Whitehorse, the 17 year-old also played with the Eastern Ranges, represented Vic Metro at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships and now pulls on the boots for the Southern Saints in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition.

When she was approached to play for the Saints, she was in shock. De Angelis also experienced a feeling that she has become accustomed to in Aussie Rules, feeling the nerves before her first hit-out with the side. But she admits that after she overcame that hurdle, she has enjoyed being a Saints player.

“When they said St Kilda wants to talk to you, I didn’t believe it,” De Angelis said. “I love the game but I never thought it would really go anywhere. “I was really nervous at the start (of my first game) and then I got into the game, I kicked a goal. “I’m really enjoying it there.”

The opportunity to play with the Saints comes after she finished playing with the Eastern Ranges this year. While she admits it’s sad to finish off at the club, this season in particular was one to remember.

“It was my favourite Academy season,” De Angelis said. “I don’t know if that’s just because it’s my last one but I really, really loved it. “I felt I improved a lot more so yeah I really enjoyed it.”

She attributes this improvement to learning off both the older and younger players in the side. De Angelis admits that she often turns to them for advice on her game, which shows the camaraderie of the TAC Cup Girls side.

“I love playing with them because they push me to do better things. “I can look up to even the ones that are younger than me, their skill, their knowledge. “I just love learning from them.”

De Angelis got the opportunity to play with some of her Eastern Ranges teammates in the “Big V”, as they travelled up to the Gold Coast to face off against the best female footballers in the country. The 17 year-old overcame some heartache last year to make the side, but is glad she got to represent her state this year.

“I didn’t make Metro last year, didn’t really expect to and I didn’t really expect it this year so I’m over the moon to get another opportunity,” she said.

Not only has De Angelis played representative football, but she also used to play representative basketball. Like many other TAC Cup Girls players, she juggled basketball and football for many years. After some deep thought, she decided to make football her sole sport.

“It was a very tough decision (to give up basketball),” she said. “In Year 11, I was playing rep basketball and footy and they got a bit too much so mum said ‘you have to choose’. “I’ve stopped playing basketball now to focus on footy.”

Now in Year 12, footy is still the focus for De Angelis, but she also has another career path in mind for the future.

“Eventually, I’d like to go into the police force but I’ve just got to work out what I really want,” the Vic Metro representative said.

At the moment, De Angelis is enjoying her time at the Southern Saints and has excelled in both Eastern Ranges and in Vic Metro colours. In her most recent game for the Saints, De Angelis recorded 10 disposals and laid three tackles. Her side next plays Hawthorn on Saturday at Trevor Barker Beach Oval.

Constant challenge of improvement drives Kendall

A CHANCE referral from basketball teammates resulted in Sarah Kendall deciding to take up Aussie Rules and she has not looked back. The Eastern Ranges ruck has enjoyed the social aspect of playing in the TAC Cup Girls, as well as the physicality that comes with contact sport. Kendall said she first started when she was 15.

“From (basketball) all the girls started talking about football and how it’s coming along and they said we’re building a team so did you want to join along?” she said; “So I went along to that at East Ringwood when I was 15, and played there in the Lightning Premiership for the season which was a good start with a couple of friends and it built up from there, I went Knox after there for two years. “Then obviously to Eastern Ranges and to Chirnside now.”

Kendall said the experience from local leagues to the national stage had been unforgettable. Even trying out a new position in defence, where she has become more comfortable this year, was a highlight along the way.

“Just all the friends that come with it, all the life experiences you learn and ultimately the physicality as well,” she said. “It’s a new sport and I’ve always loved playing since I was little with my dad and stuff like that. It’s different, it’s unique, it’s good fun as well. “Last year I played for Vic Metro and they put me in the backline but I really enjoyed it, it was a good challenge. “It was different to being in the ruck but I learnt heaps of stuff and I’m open to new opportunities. “I do like it down there and I’m starting to find my spot which is good I reckon.”

Kendall prided herself on her leadership and direction to help the younger girls around the ground and be a target for her teammates to kick to.

“I think my strength is in the ruck at the moment because I feel like I know what is going on around the ground and I can use my knowledge to help direct the girls and tell them where to go,” she said. “Especially when we kick a point and its coming out, like telling them, especially the younger ones, like what to do.”

The Ranges utility admits her disposal by foot is an area she has worked on, but has tried to soak any information passed down to her from coaches or more experienced teammates.

“Well my kicking can improve a bit I reckon at the moment, it’s a little bit all over the place,” she said. “Working on my left foot and just getting more knowledge of the game. “I’m still young, I’m still an 18 year-old. “To get some knowledge passed down will be good, and to get some more experience would be great as well.”

Outside of football, Kendall enjoys a challenge as much as she does on the field. She said she has always thought about joining the armed forces and the experience within a football club, is not too dissimilar to that within a battalion.

“I’ve always been interested in the Army when I was younger,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in having a challenge and promoting women in the Army so much and to see all the ads and stuff. “It would be cool to go along and do something like that. “Now I’ve been part of the footy environment I hope to give me knowledge back to some of the younger kids, like doing the Under 15  program, just passing down the knowledge that I’ve learnt. “I’m not 100 per cent sure what I want to do yet.”

The Eastern Ranges finished the season with a 6-3 win-loss record, starting strongly, but a loss to the Western Jets saw them slip behind, before finishing with losses to eventual premiers Geelong Falcons, and the Calder Cannons in pouring rain. Nonetheless, Kendall said the 2018 season was beneficial for her.

“(It’s been) really good,” she said. “I’ve learnt lots and obviously built heaps of friendships and stuff like that. “My skills have improved, I’ve loved it, it’s been great. “It’s helped me as a person, not just as a footy player, but just in life in general, heaps of lessons.”

Kendall’s dream is like that of so many others in the TAC Cup Girls – finding her way onto an AFL Women’s list. But for now, her focus is on her Vic Metro duties on the Gold Coast, where she will likely share the ruck load with Carla Rendelmann as she did in Metro’s win against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium in Round 1 of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships.

“Yeah I’m looking forward to that, because last year was my first time playing Metro for me which was good,” she said. “This year I have a couple of my friends coming along and Tommy’s (Humphrey, Eastern Ranges coach) coming along (so) just to meet them and I know a lot of people from last year as well, it’s a similar team. “I think we’ll have better connections and I’m looking forward to it and what it’s going to bring.”

Kendall is a part of a strong Eastern Ranges contingent in the Vic Metro squad with co-captains Emerson Woods and Charlotte Wilson, midfielder Mikala Cann, exciting forward Gabriella De Angelis and defender Lauren Szigeti among those who made the final squad and were a part of Metro’s victory over Vic Country.

Scouting notes: Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges

SANDRINGHAM Dragons got the job done against Eastern Ranges in the standalone TAC Cup game on Saturday and Scott Dougan watched on to take note of the extended Victorian squad players who took part in the match.

Eastern Ranges:

#24 Kye Quirk

On a wet day, in a scrappy contest, Quirk tried his hardest to move the ball forward when possible. He played as a midfielder and worked hard to link up with his teammates. His agility in tight situations came in handy as he tried to find space in a contested game. Quirk tackled strongly and amassed plenty of possessions in all areas of the ground, making him one of the Ranges best.

#23 Xavier Fry

Fry played the majority of the game on the half-back flank but also contributed to the Ranges midfield at times. He was one of very few players that were clean in wet conditions. Fry’s speed and agility were important for the Ranges when rebounding defensive 50. His ball use was brilliant, especially in the second quarter when he hit Dermot Reynolds with an opposite foot kick.

#42 Tom Lockman

The wet and windy conditions did not suit Lockman and he struggled to have an impact. A quiet game, but he did impress with a big tackle deep inside 50 in the second quarter. His continuous efforts in bringing the ball to ground level in marking contests helped the Ranges small forwards.

Sandringham:

#2 Alastair Richards

Richards was able to impact the contest with his speed, defensive pressure and decision making. He played on the wing in the first quarter and showed off his pace and composure. He lowered his eyes on multiple occasions when moving the ball forward, trying to find the best available target. In the fourth quarter, he delivered a beautiful kick inside 50 to Dawit McNeish, who kicked the sealer for the Dragons.

#6 Harry Houlahan

The midfielder was a consistent performer over four quarters for the Dragons. He had no trouble finding the ball in all areas of the ground and spent the majority of the game in the middle of the ground. He caught the eye in the third quarter when he took the game on through the middle of the ground, kicking the ball deep inside forward to the advantage of his teammates.

#7 Liam Stocker

Stocker was involved in the first two passages of play in the game, which resulted in a goal to Charlie Dean. He put his head over the ball relentlessly and demonstrated his strength in contested situations. He accumulated plenty of the ball and his clearance work was a standout.

#19 Sam Forbes

Forbes made good decisions when he had the ball and his skills were noticeable in sloppy conditions. The penetration and accuracy of his kicks when entering the forward 50 proved difficult for the Ranges to defend at times. A good game off half-back.

#33 Will Kennedy

Kennedy’s defensive work was fabulous and he showed that he can play multiple positions, drifting forward in the last quarter. When defending, he was able to spoil the ball in marking contests and also when he got caught behind on the lead. His ball use was clean and he showed composure for a big man. He didn’t have the same impact forward as he did defensively, but he provided some strong leads and competed hard.

#61 Fischer McAsey

Due to the conditions, McAsey also found it difficult to get involved. His kick inside 50 in the second term resulted in a goal to George Grey. In the third quarter, McAsey led strongly to a kick inside 50 from Forbes and was rewarded with a free kick. He put the Dragons two points ahead after successfully converting the goal.