Tag: felicity theodore

Theodore hoping to emulate Prespakis’ journey to AFLW

CALDER Cannons product, Felicity Theodore proved to be a lynchpin in defence using her nimbleness and speed to evade players and burst away from the pack time and time again. Signed with Essendon VFLW, Theodore aspires to follow the same path of those before her in particular, NAB Rising Star Maddy Prespakis who introduced her to the sport.

“I got into footy through Maddy Prespakis who plays for Carlton. She actually pulled me over one training session and was like ‘come to training’ so that’s how I started,” she said.

Prespakis had a continued influence on Theodore, captaining her last season and leading from the front both on the footy field and off the park.

“I hope to follow Maddy’s footsteps and get drafted but I’m just at the moment hoping to have a really good season and enjoy myself,” she said.

The Rising Star proved to be an inspiration for Theodore who credited her effort on the field and sheer class while also highlighting her importance at the Cannons throughout their time together.

“It was amazing, every game she just gave 120 per cent and it was so inspiring to see,” she said.

The nippy defender worked tirelessly throughout the year securing a spot in the National Championships with Vic Metro credit to her gut running, versatility and ability to break lines and while she has a spot with Essendon’s VFLW side is aware of elements she must improve.

“Definitely my quick kicks so like just getting kicks and really trying to hit up a target,” she said.

She relished the new opportunities throughout the 2019 season, taking the younger players under her wing and capitalising on her chances to impact across the ground.

“I’m just looking forward to this season as a whole and being able to play with my teammates, the coaching staff that are amazing and just to improve my game,” she said at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day earlier this year.

Theodore’s move from the attacking 50 to defence paid dividends with the talented small making the Vic Metro side. In the NAB League Girls competition, Theodore averaged 8.3 disposals, 2.0 tackles and more than a rebound per game, but it is her speed and dare to create options up the field that set her apart. She played a similar role for Vic Metro, running hard for almost identical statistics, and holding her own against the nation’s most talented players.

Then returning to Victoria, Theodore tasted Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) experience with Essendon, where she averaged 8.3 disposals and 3.3 tackles, not afraid to throw herself into the contest against stronger bodies. Now with some good form behind her throughout the season across three different levels, Theodore is hoping to join Prespakis in the AFL Women’s.

2019 NAB League Girls Team of the Year announced

THE 2019 NAB Under 18 Girls Team of the Year was announced with five Northern Knights players named in the squad. The premiership side saw Sarah Sansonetti, Gabby Newton, Nell Morris-Dalton, Britney Gutknecht and Ellie McKenzie all make the team, while coach Marcus Abney-Hastings was named Coach of the Year after guiding his side to victory in the grand final.

The defence end of the Cannons impressed with Felicity Theodore and Georgie Prespakis both making the team while Georgia Patrikios also made her way into the side after a stellar 2019 performance. She was accompanied by Western Jets’ Elisabeth Georgostathis and Dandenong Stingrays’ Molly McDonald in the midfield thanks to their clever ball use and class across the field.

Western Bulldogs father-daughter prospect Isabella Grant was named at half forward for her efforts throughout the season for the Western Jets. Olivia Meagher and Murray Bushrangers’ youngster Olivia Barber also got named in the team of the season credit to their work in the forward 50 and ability to find the goals when their side needed them.

Molly Denahy-Maloney was named in the ruck with Geelong captain Lucy McEvoy and GWV Rebels player Sophie Molan earning a spot in the Team of the Year.

BP – 1 – M. TUPPER
CC – 3 – G. PRESPAKIS, G. PATRIKIOS, F. THEODORE
DS – 3 – I. SHANNON, T. SMITH, M. MCDONALD
ER – 2 – L. MCCLELLAND, O. MEAGHER
GF – 2 – L. MCEVOY, L. LESOSKY-HAY
GP – 1 – M. SHAW
GWV – 1 – S. MOLAN
MB – 2 – M. BROWN, O. BARNER
NK – 5 – S. SANSONETTI, E. MCKENZIE, G. NEWTON, N. MORRIS-DALTON, B. GUTKNECHT
OC – 1 – J. LIN
SD – 1 – M. DENAHY MALONEY
WJ – 2 – I. GRANT, E. GEORGOSTATHIS

AFL Women’s Draft Combine: Player Summaries

AFTER the 2019 AFL Women’s Draft Combine list of names were announced earlier in the week, we take a look at each player who was nominated, with a quick summary and link to their profile. Check them out below:

2019 AFLW NAB Draft Combine Nominees

NSW/ACT: [3]

Georgia Garnett (East Coast Eagles)
* Eastern Allies captain, member of the GWS GIANTS Academy and a player from the GIANTS heartland of western Sydney

Eloise Hiller-Stanbrook (Dubbo)
* Tireless ruck who averaged 14 hitouts per game at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships

Brenna Tarrant (East Coast Eagles)
* All-Australian in 2019 and a crucial key defender who can move up the ground, also from western Sydney heartland

QUEENSLAND: [8]

Georgia Breward (Coolangatta)+
* Suffered a season-ending injury last year but showed plenty of talent and determination

Isabel Dawes (Maroochydore)
* Classy, smart forward who made All-Australian last year in her middle-age year

Dee Heslop (Yeronga South Brisbane)
* Consistent player who has been reliable in the defensive half and uses the ball well

Tahlia Hickie (Coorparoo)+
* Ruck prospect who played as an over-ager at the championships and performed strongly

Lily Postlethwaite (Maroochydore)
* Dual All-Australian and state captain, super talented midfielder

Taylor Smith (Bond University)+
* Tall target who presented well during the championships up forward, another overage player on the list

Serene Watson (Bond University)
* Another dual All-Australian from Queensland who provided a reliable marking target in the defensive half, repelling opposition attacks time and time again

Tarni White (Coorparoo)
* Returned from an ACL injury to show some promising signs at the championships and has plenty of upside

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: [4]

Montana McKinnon (South Adelaide)
* Dual All-Australian ruck and dual Most Valuable Player (MVP), South Australian and Central Allies captain, South Adelaide premiership player… the list of accolades is unbelievable. Top ruck in the draft crop

Hannah Munyard (South Adelaide)
* Smart user of the footy with elite athletic traits, premiership player at South Adelaide predominantly through the midfield

Madison Newman (West Adelaide)
* One of the top rebounders in the draft crop, an All-Australian in 2019 and consistent as they come

Jaimi Tabb (Woodville-West Torrens)
* Tackling machine who thrives on the contest and has shown a capability to also win the ball on the outside as well

TASMANIA: [1]

Mia King (Launceston)
* Super talented mover through the midfield with burst speed, King won the Eastern Allies’ MVP for the carnival to go with her All-Australian selection. North Melbourne have first priority being Tasmanian

VIC COUNTRY: [10]

Teagan Brett (Murray Bushrangers)
* Small midfielder who came of age in the championships, playing well on the outside and getting the ball from midfield into attack

Millie Brown (Murray Bushrangers)
* Potential Geelong father-daughter selection, Brown was superb across the championships in defence until injury ruled her out of the final game. 2019 All-Australian

Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons)
* Accumulator who just finds the football and works hard into space, a key cog in Geelong Falcons’ midfield with Lucy McEvoy

Lucy McEvoy (Geelong Falcons)
* Hard to even begin with the accolades, but a three-time All-Australian, dual Best and Fairest, premiership captain, Vic Country MVP… just a star and unbelievable leader who has captained for three years at the Falcons

Sophie Molan (GWV Rebels)
* Natural born leader who captained the Rebels this year and is as versatile as they come, can play anywhere and was a 2019 All-Australian

Shanara Notman (Gippsland Power)
* A late bloomer after having last year off, she can play up either end and is strong in the air and very good athletically

Paige Sheppard (Geelong Falcons)
* Raised her draft stocks at the championships with a terrific carnival following on from a consistent year in the NAB League Girls

Brooke Vernon (Dandenong Stingrays)
* One of Dandenong’s best in the NAB League Girls this year, playing as a rebounding defender who is as good in the air as she is at ground level

Nikia Webber (Gippsland Power)
* Tall forward who can also play through the midfield, Webber is an elite kick of the footy, arguably the best in the draft crop with accuracy and penetration

Ella Wood (GWV Rebels)
* Uncompromising midfielder who loves the contested side of footy and relishes winning the hard ball with great courage

VIC METRO: [15]

Alana Barba (Calder Cannons)
* A tackling machine who stood up particularly later in the year, emerging as a genuine draft chance with great defensive pressure

Molly Denahy-Maloney (Sandringham Dragons)
* Athletic ruck who captained Sandringham Dragons this year and held up Vic Metro’s ruck division in 2019

Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western Jets)
* Captain of Western Jets and one who always puts her body on the line, Georgostathis was another who raised her draft stocks at the championships with important moments in big games. Can play anywhere on the field too

Isabella Grant (Western Jets)
* Potential Western Bulldogs father-daughter, she is able to play midfield or forward and can take a grab and hit the scoreboard

Britney Gutknecht (Northern Knights)
* Known for her goalkicking last year, Gutknecht became an inside midfielder this year and was a key player in the Knights’ premiership side

Gemma Lagioia (Oakleigh Chargers)
* Classy user of the football who can play anywhere on the ground, she was able to develop her inside game at the championships to add another string to her bow

Laura McClelland (Eastern Ranges)
* One of only three Vic Metro All-Australians, McClelland can play anywhere on the ground and is strong in the air and capable of kicking terrific goals

Nell Morris-Dalton (Northern Knights)
* One of the most consistent players this season, Morris-Dalton had a massive end to the NAB League Girls season and is so strong one-on-one, particularly in the air

Gabrielle Newton (Northern Knights)
* Dual All-Australian, Northern Knights premiership captain and one who is almost copied and pasted into the best every week, Newton hardly puts a foot wrong and has played literally everywhere on the field from the ruck to all thirds of the ground given her athletic talents

Georgia Patrikios (Calder Cannons)
* Overall MVP of the championships, Patrikios led her Calder side to a grand final and has the best agility of any player in the draft crop. Uses the ball well and is a dual All-Australian too

Marguerite Purcell (Sandringham Dragons)
* Speedy winger who has developed rapidly this year playing for the Dragons and earned a spot on Vic Metro’s list for the championships, holding her own there

Sarah Sansonetti (Northern Knights)
* Reliable defender who stood up in the NAB League Girls Grand Final for Northern and just does the job week-in, week-out

Cleo Saxon-Jones (Western Jets)
* Key forward who is a strong contested mark and powerful set shot at goal, she thrived on one-on-one situations at the championships

Felicity Theodore (Calder Cannons)
* Fierce tackling runner who just works hard all day and attacks the footy and ball carrier with vigour, able to play up either end and provide great defensive pressure

Nicola Xenos (Oakleigh Chargers)
* Talented running defender who uses the ball well off half-back and makes good decisions with ball-in-hand

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: [4]

Sophie McDonald (Claremont)+
* Key defender who repelled opposition attacks and was able to set up attacking plays after some goal-saving moves deep in defence

Emma O’Driscoll (Swan Districts)*
* Did not play up on the Gold Coast, but O’Driscoll is a reliable defender who has good positioning and high level smarts

Roxanne Roux (East Fremantle)
* Exciting key forward who has a massive vertical leap and could become a human highlight reel with her long kicking, goal sense and work rate; another All-Australian

Mim Strom (South Fremantle)
* Really stood out in the ruck as a key player who not only worked well at stoppages, but at ground level and around the ground, providing an impact – 2019 All-Australian too

+Overage player (ie. born 2000)

2019 AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitations announced

FORTY-five players have been invited to the 2019 AFL Women’s NAB Draft Combine, with 25 from Victoria – where eight of the 10 AFL Women’s clubs are based, with Queensland (eight) the next highest. Four players from both South Australia and Western Australia have been invited, as have three from NSW/ACT and one from Tasmania. Among the invitees are five overagers (eligible last year), as well as two father-daughter potential selections in Isabella Grant (Western Bulldogs) and Millie Brown (Geelong). Players who are already pre-listed to clubs such as Gold Coast’s Ellie Hampson, West Coast’s Mikayla Bowen and St Kilda’s Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon were not included in the invitations.

The combine will be held from October 1-3 to align with the AFL Under-18 National Combine. Western Bulldogs hold the first pick in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft.

Extended content on the invitees will come later in the week.

2019 AFLW NAB Draft Combine Nominees

NSW/ACT: [3]
Georgia Garnett (East Coast Eagles)
Eloise Hiller-Stanbrook (Dubbo)
Brenna Tarrant (East Coast Eagles)

QUEENSLAND: [8]
Georgia Breward (Coolangatta)*
Isabel Dawes (Maroochydore)
Dee Heslop (Yeronga South Brisbane)
Tahlia Hickie (Coorparoo)*
Lily Postlethwaite (Maroochydore)
Taylor Smith (Bond University)*
Serene Watson (Bond University)
Tarni White (Coorparoo)

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: [4]
Montana McKinnon (South Adelaide)
Hannah Munyard (South Adelaide)
Madison Newman (West Adelaide)
Jaimi Tabb (Woodville-West Torrens)

TASMANIA: [1]
Mia King (Launceston)

VIC COUNTRY: [10]
Teagan Brett (Murray Bushrangers)
Millie Brown (Murray Bushrangers)
Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons)
Lucy McEvoy (Geelong Falcons)
Sophie Molan (GWV Rebels)
Shanara Notman (Gippsland Power)
Paige Sheppard (Geelong Falcons)
Brooke Vernon (Dandenong Stingrays)
Nikia Webber (Gippsland Power)
Ella Wood (GWV Rebels)

VIC METRO: [15]
Alana Barba (Calder Cannons)
Molly Denahy-Maloney (Sandringham Dragons)
Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western Jets)
Isabella Grant (Western Jets)
Britney Gutknecht (Northern Knights)
Gemma Lagioia (Oakleigh Chargers)
Laura McClelland (Eastern Ranges)
Nell Morris-Dalton (Northern Knights)
Gabrielle Newton (Northern Knights)
Georgia Patrikios (Calder Cannons)
Marguerite Purcell (Sandringham Dragons)
Sarah Sansonetti (Northern Knights)
Cleo Saxon-Jones (Western Jets)
Felicity Theodore (Calder Cannons)
Nicola Xenos (Oakleigh Chargers)

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: [4]
Sophie McDonald (Claremont)*
Emma O’Driscoll (Swan Districts)*
Roxanne Roux (East Fremantle)
Mim Strom (South Fremantle)

*Overage player (ie. born 2000)

AFLW U18 National Championships wrap

VIC Metro had an undefeated run in the championships, dominating across the board after coming into the Queensland series with a win over Vic Country. Every other team fought hard at each contest in what was a mostly even carnival played in a variety of conditions. We recap how each side fared and shed light on some of the better performers throughout the competition.

Central Allies (2-1)

Results:
Eastern Allies 4.8 (32) def. by Central Allies 5.6 (36)
Western Australia 5.2 (32) def. Central Allies 1.4 (10)
Queensland 4.5 (29) def. by Central Allies 5.0 (30)

MVP: Montana McKinnon

The Central Allies put up a solid performance at the championships, coming away with close wins over Eastern Allies and Queensland. The only chink in the armour came from Western Australia on the Wednesday, where they struggled to find connections across the field to go down by 22 points. The players who stood up time and time again were the likes of Teah Charlton and Jaimi Tabb who both imposed themselves throughout the Championships with good marking and strong tackling. Montana McKinnon was awarded the MVP for her work across the field, defensive presence and clever use of the footy while Tayla Hart-Aluni provided plenty of excitement with her dash across the ground. Tegan Usher showcased their strength taking some strong grabs throughout the series while using the ball well by foot. There was plenty to like about the Allies who grew as the competition went on finding stronger connections and creating good space to hit each other on the lead.

Eastern Allies (0-3)

Results:
Eastern Allies 4.8 (32) def. by Central Allies 5.6 (36)
Vic Country 6.6 (42) def. Eastern Allies 2.0 (12)
Vic Metro 11.9 (75) def. Eastern Allies 0.3 (3)

MVP: Mia King

Eastern Allies lost each of their three games only kicked six goals, but were competitive in both of their first two matches. Their closest match was their opener against the Central Allies, going down by four points but putting on a solid performance in a game they could well have won given they dominated the last quarter for forward 50 entries, and clearances for the game. The likes of Abby Favell, Mia King and Georgia Garnett were exceptional for Eastern Allies across the week. Favell was solid throughout the Championships going in hard at each and every contest, laying strong tackles and winning her fair share of the ball. Meanwhile King was awarded MVP honours for her efforts across the competition credit to her get in and go mentality and clean hands around the stoppages. Jayde Hamilton worked tirelessly across the matches, while Jordyn Jolliffe also played an imposing role when on the field. Brenna Tarrant was another player who stood out across the tournament.

Queensland (0-3)

Results:
Vic Country 9.7 (61) def. Queensland 3.1 (19)
Queensland 1.5 (11) def. by Vic Metro 4.5 (29)
Queensland 4.5 (29) def. by Central Allies 5.0 (30)

MVP: Ellie Hampson

Similar to Eastern Allies, Queensland failed to put a win on the board from their three matches but were in each of their matches. An inaccurate one point loss to Central Allies was likely the most painful for the side, which had plenty of opportunities to get in front but could not capitalise, whilst they were in the game for three quarters against the undefeated Vic Metro. The Maroons had plenty of talent with the likes of Zimmorlei Farquharson providing an exciting prospect in the forward line with her athleticism, football nous and speed. Every time she went near the ball something electric happened sparking plenty of enthusiasm from the crowd. Meanwhile the likes of Lily Postlethwaite and Isabel Dawes were equally as impressive throughout the Championships. Their class and skill in and around the contest was second to none extracting the ball and using it effectively. Charlotte Hammans also displayed her ball winning abilities throughout the series to have an impact for her side along with Serene Watson who proved to be crucial for Queensland at times. Another key player for Queensland and the MVP was Ellie Hampson who imposed herself at each and every contest using her body well to win the ball and bomb it out of congestion but unfortunately it was not enough to register a win for Queensland.

Vic Country (3-0)

Results:
Vic Country 9.7 (61) def. Queensland 3.1 (19)
Vic Country 6.6 (42) def. Eastern Allies 2.0 (12)
Western Australia 3.5 (23) def. By Vic Country 3.7 (25)

MVP: Lucy McEvoy

Vic Country came away a solid contender in the Championships, notching up three wins with their best, a come-from-behind win on Friday against Western Australia while they racked up a 42-point win against Queensland earlier in the week. Country stood up when challenged backing themselves in the contest and fighting their way out of trouble thanks to the likes of MVP winner Lucy McEvoy who took the game on at every opportunity. The highly skilled player showed her versatility playing in each area of the ground and having a profound impact while the likes of Tyanna Smith and Sophie Molan also worked hard to win the ball. Middle-ager Olivia Barber was exciting for Country who valued her height and versatility throughout the Championships hitting the scoreboard more than once and constantly providing an option inside 50 with her marking strength. Renee Saulitis provided a spark up forward with her dynamic movement and goal sense while Millie Brown was also impressive across the series providing good run and carry off the back half. Shanara Notman had a number of highlights, hitting the scoreboard while Darcy Moloney also worked tirelessly for Vic Country winning the ball and creating forward forays.

Vic Metro (3-0)

Results:
Vic Metro 8.3 (51) def. Western Australia 5.4 (34)
Queensland 1.5 (11) def. by Vic Metro 4.5 (29)
Vic Metro 11.9 (75) def. Eastern Allies 0.3 (3)

MVP: Georgia Patrikios

Vic Metro were by large the most dominant of all the teams in the series, winning their first two matches by solid three-goal margins before posting a dominant 72-point victory over the Eastern Allies on Friday to close out their tournament. They oozed strength and skill across the field making them tough opponents throughout the Championship. Metro have no shortage of ball winners with the likes of Gabby Newton and Georgia Patrikios both able to burrow down and extract the hard ball credit to their clean hands, slick movement and footy awareness. Ellie McKenzie offered plenty of spark with her brute strength and speed to evade would be tacklers and move the ball down the field with ease while the likes of Nell Morris-Dalton and Cleo Saxon-Jones relished the good ball movement from the strong midfield. Morris-Dalton and Saxon-Jones hit the scoreboard more then once throughout Championships thanks to their accuracy in front of goal while Emily Harley also made her presence felt in the forward half. Laura McClelland showed her versatility throughout the series while Felicity Theodore used her speed to create good space for Metro. Alana Barba played her role for Vic Metro while the likes of Gemma Lagioia and Elisabeth Georgostathis bobbed up for patches throughout the Championships to impact the play.

Western Australia (1-2)

Results:
Vic Metro 8.3 (51) def. Western Australia 5.4 (34)
Western Australia 5.2 (32) def. Central Allies 1.4 (10)
Western Australia 3.5 (23) def. By Vic Country 3.7 (25)

MVP: Mikayla Bowen

Western Australia were one of the most exciting sides all week, producing some impressive performances but unfortunately only getting the one win on the board against the Central Allies on Wednesday. Though they put both Vic Metro and Vic Country through their paces, they lacked consistency at times which was ultimately the catalyst for their defeat. WA showed glimpses of brilliance moving the ball with pace and precision down the field but lapses such as the start of their clash with Vic Metro, and the second half against Vic Country cost them from going undefeated this year. In saying that there were plenty of star players for the Black Ducks who proved that they have what it takes to match it with the best and cause headaches for opposition teams. Roxanne Roux left her mark on the Championships taking some huge grabs and putting her body on the line time and time again to win the hard ball. Roux showed great elevation throughout the Championships to contest the ball in the air but also following up her work at ground level. Mim Strom was crucial for WA with her impressive taps and strength in the ruck providing her side with first access to the ball with the likes of MVP winner Mikayla Bowen reaping the rewards of her work. Bowen had an impressive Championship showcasing her clean hands in close while Nyra Anderson dazzled with her pace and tackling intent. Taylor Pescud, Rebecca Viney and Mikayla Morrison all had their moments for Western Australia going in hard when necessary to extract the ball.

Scouting notes: AFLW U18s – Monday, July 8

ON the opening day of the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, there were wins to both Victorian sides over Queensland and Western Australia, while Central Allies got over the line against Eastern Allies. We were there and took notes on some of the players that impressed us throughout the day at Metricon Stadium. All notes are opinion-based of the individual writer.

Queensland

By: Peter Williams

#4 Lily Postlethwaite

Was prominent throughout the midfield as we have come to expect from the Queensland captain. She produced a four-quarter effort and in wet conditions when many others were struggling to be clean, Postlethwaite added a touch of class to the game and was able to win the ball in every third of the field. She was able to hit targets more often than not with her ability to kick across her body or on the move. Postlethwaite also applied good defensive pressure, laying a nice bump to allow a teammate to win the footy. She mopped up in defence at times and then got forward to hit-up Taylor Smith who marked inside 50 and goaled in the final term.

#11 Tiarna Ahwang

Ahwang showed some very nice glimpses with some clear scope for the future. She has great acceleration which she used at times to keep the ball in front of her, and she did so late in the game where she was unable to take the ball cleanly on the wet surface at first, but then got hold of it and then kicked it forward well.

#13 Dee Heslop

Cracked in and got the hands up to handball out of the contest on a number of occasions. Heslop was able to position her body well when sliding in or approaching an opponent to fairly bump and go to win the contested ball. A nice mover around the ground, Heslop found space under pressure and kicked long to the wing in the second term in what was a nice piece of play.

#14 Serene Watson

The reliable defensive general, Watson was solid all game in a defence that was under siege at times. She was able to use the ball fairly well and read an errant kick from Isabella Simmons in the second term to mark on the last line and settle the team down. Watson has great composure with ball-in-hand and proved a strong intercept mark and a player who stopped quite a few Country forward forays. In the final term she took an unbelievable mark, pushed under the ball but was able to get hands to it to keep it in front of her and pull it down. Unfortunately, she played on and had to rush a handball after slipping, but overall a really impressive game.

#16 Elle Hampson

Copped a number of knocks throughout the first half but kept bouncing back and playing an important role through midfield. She continually hit the opponent hard with fierce tackles, and even fended off a couple of players to win an important contested ball in midfield. Hampson took a big grab at half-back in the second term, but her subsequent kick was smothered. Her first half was terrific and continued her good work after the break, with some neat kicks along the wing. Did get pinged for a high tackle late in the game.

#20 Charlotte Hammans

Reliable as ever, Hammans was strong in defence, getting back to take the ball and clear it up the field on a number of occasions. At times she pushed up the ground to try and get the ball deeper down the ground, and played a good team role throughout the game, doing the hard stuff in the back half of the ground.

#21 Taylor Smith

Smith had a couple of set shots on goal, one in the third term and one in the fourth. The first one was a good attempt but fell short to the right, the second went through however. She provided a tall target inside 50 in the game and was able to capitalise with the last quarter major.

#27 Kitara Whap-Farrar

One of the cleanest players out there, Farrar was able to control the wet pill at ground level by protecting the zone and handballing out to teammates. On a number of occasions, she stepped around opponents like it was a dry track and set up teammates up the ground by opening the game up with her agility. She also showed good hands in close.

Vic Country

By: Taylah Melki

#4 Renee Saulitis

Impressive goal in the second quarter with a clever snap from the pocket. She showcased her goal sense to turn and bang it through the middle. She worked hard to pose a threat up forward running hard and winning a free kick but was unable to add another major to her name with the ball just dropping short.

#7 Ella Wood

Proved that she was not afraid to go hard at the footy and apply strong physical pressure with tackles and bumps to put her opponents off balance. She showcased her long strong kick and ability to sight players in space.

#9 Darcy Moloney

Worked well through the midfield to win the ball and dispose of it cleanly and cleverly, won a free kick in the first term in the forward 50 and moved the ball quickly. Broke free in the forward 50 and found good space to create opportunities. Moloney worked hard at ground level to win the ball and force contests. Kicked an impressive goal off a step and around the body in the third quarter working hard to use her feet and body to out position her opponent.

#12 Tyanna Smith

Clean hands and good vision to move through the packs and create forward thrusts. She worked hard to use the ball well and covered the ground with ease laying off a pass and then receiving it back in the forward 50 in the second quarter. She tracked the ball well at ground level given the tricky slippery conditions. Good hands under pressure and good direction to work the ball through traffic. Really good run and carry through the middle of the ground to open the forward 50 up.

#21 Sophie Molan

Really good strong hands and clever ability to read the play. Kicked the ball well supplying cleverly weighted kicks to teammates on the lead. She showcased her strength to hold up in the tackle and shake her opponent off to then dish a handball off to a passing teammate. Worked herself into the game in the last term roving the packs and getting involved at the stoppages.

#23 Lucy McEvoy

Long penetrating kick into the forward 50 and applied good pressure. She showcased her strong hands to win the ball cleanly and used her good hands at the stoppages to feed the ball out of the contest and to a free teammate. McEvoy was not afraid to apply strong physical pressure putting her body on the line to win the ball in the air and on the ground. Used her body well throughout the game to barge through congestion and deliver the ball to teammates. Showcased her general footy smarts to create forward opportunities for Vic Country. She is a real bull in and around the contest and showcased her spatial awareness to lay the ball out to teammates in advantage. Topped off her impressive performance with a snap in the last quarter credit to her goal sense and strength to break free and win the ball. McEvoy kicked her second goal moments later reading the tap out of the ruck and snapping truly.

#24 Isabella Simmons

Simmons worked hard to get into the right place at the right time nailing her first for the morning with a goal right on the goal line. Simmons used her body well and showcased her general footy smarts to work her way to the goal line and capitalise on her opportunities.

#25 Olivia Barber

Kicked the opening goal for Vic Country credit to her strong hands to take a contested mark and then back it up with a strong kick. She quickly followed that up slotting her second goal in the first quarter off the deck after a booming kick from McEvoy into the forward 50. Barber continued her goal kicking form nailing her third in the dying minutes of the second quarter. Continued to be an imposing force in the forward 50 create scoring opportunities but was unable to capitalise scoring two points straight. Barber proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the forward 50 slotting her fourth goal in the opening few minutes in the last term.

VIC METRO VS. WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Western Australia:

Peter Williams

#9 Isabella Lewis

Got the first inside 50 for Western Australia with a quick kick, and kept battling in the forward half with some fierce tackles. She was often trying to win the hardball and feed it out, and whilst Lewis did give away a few free kicks in the process, showed great attack on the ball.

#10 Mikayla Hyde

A human highlight reel in the air, Hyde had a number of high-flying attempts throughout the match. Hyde reads the play well and was able to chop off a kick in-board to the middle in the second term, and then handball quickly to a teammate quickly. She has great strength overhead and while she did not take every mark she flew for, still created a presence in the air. A damaging player in the forward half and still a year to go in her development.

#13 Kia Buckley

Played in the forward half and showed some nice offensive and defensive traits. Buckley was able to use her body well in on-on-one contests, taking a strong mark while being held at one stage, then took another good mark on a lead just outside the 50. Her kick inside set up a goal for her team.

#14 Sarah Verrier

One of the important inside midfielders, Verrier was superb with her tackling and clearance ability in a role often understated in a hard slog. She continually fought hard in the middle to win the footy and then kick long, getting it out of congestion and into the forward 50. She gave away a few free kicks, but her use with the ball was telling in the conditions, just looking to kick rather than handball.

#17 Mikayla Bowen

An outstanding game from Bowen who showed once again why West Coast made the decision to pre-list her ahead of next season. She was everywhere, using the ball well, playing the team role and leading from the front. When her side was down early, she was cracking in trying to win the ball and thump it forward. Her tackling was not just often, but fierce and made her opponents earn every possession. Her clearance work was the best on the ground and she never stopped running. Bowen’s smarts should also not be underrated, kicking off the ground to gain distance in congestion and give her side a chance to run onto it early in the game. Brought down Elle McKenzie in a tackle too which is no easy feat.

#23 Mikayla Morrison

Not a huge amount of ball, but she was classy in the big moments late. Her last quarter in particular was a highlight, winning the ball tight in the pocket and getting the ball by hand over to Lily Bird who converted a goal, then got on the end of one herself after marking terrifically under pressure and nailing the set shot from 35m – bringing the deficit to just 11 points.

#29 Roxanne Roux

Along with Bowen, Roux was a standout player, with a dominating presence in the air and capitalising on the scoreboard. She booted two goals during the game – both from set shots – and could have had a third. She booted a goal early in the second which was Western Australia’s first major, then launched from long range in the third quarter for a huge goal. Her contested marking was a treat, and while she did not take as many marks as she has in the past, she fly a number of times, almost bringing down a cracker at half-forward in the second term. She then moved into the ruck in the final term, having a huge game and finishing with 18 hitouts to complement her game further, and had a massive leap that was too hard for the opposition to combat.

#35 Mim Strom

Really impressive throughout the day because while Strom was clearly the number one ruck on the ground, it was her work around the ground that also looked good. She worked within usual ruck limitations of aiming to handball to running teammates, but did not mind doing the hard stuff, laying a terrific tackle on Elisabeth Georgostathis who tried to evade her, and winning a free on the wing. Worked hard in close and became like a fourth midfielder at times.

Vic Metro:

By: Sophie Taylor

#2 Felicity Theodore

Great clearing kick down ground. Right in the contest when needed, putting in the hard yards especially in the late stages of the match to apply constant pressure on the scrap and be the crumbing player to clear back out of the contest. She may not have had the influence on the ball that she wanted, but produced plenty of stoppages credit to her tackling pressure and ability to force her opposition to be unsure about the contest.

#17 Georgia Patrikios

Patrikios was one of the best on ground for the afternoon, if not best for Metro in an altogether successful match. Showcased her skill to produce a great clearing kick from the midfield toward the forward, and was right up in every contest from the get-go. Had a great read of the play, finding the ball with ease and producing some impressive marks in among the contest. Had a run on goal in the first that was punched on the line but showed good intent and ability to find space to line up in front, following it up with a successful goal moments into the second after a 50m penalty. Also showed off some of her game smarts late, proving her great read of play as she spotted Saxon-Jones one on one inside 50, leading to a goal.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

Put on a solid performance credit to her ability to take the game on but was stopped in her tracks by a hungry WA side on a number of occasions, unable to find the space to run free with the ball. Produced some great crunching tackles, while also creating play credit to her ability to find a loose player and clear the ball out of the contest in their direction.

#23 Nell Morris-Dalton

Kicked one goal in a mostly successful hitout. Spent a lot of the first term further up the ground than usual, not hanging inside 50 as accustomed to and giving some room to the likes of Cleo Saxon-Jones and Emily Harley. Showcased some of her good marking ability, providing great option inside 50 and taking a great mark right in front of goal in the second, putting an easy goal on the board.

#26 Gabby Newton

Newton was impressive off the stoppage, finding teammates with ease and using her ability to play with smarts to not only create play across the field but use her teammates’ position to advantage as she made opportunities arise. Her booming kick was effective on multiple occasions, while her pressure both on and off the ball forced her opposition to second guess around the footy and rethink their options.

#29 Cleo Saxon-Jones

Early took a good contested mark off the boot of Morris-Dalton, finishing with a snap around the body from the pocket and goal. Wasn’t able to take advantage of sitting alone in the goal square but set up well for open goal if it came to her. Hit the post on second try minutes later but made up for it by putting her body on the line at every opportunity. Kicked a sensational goal in the final term to keep Metro in the contest when WA was hot on their heels, taking a great running mark one on one for a set shot well within her range, straight through the middle for her third goal.

#20 Sarah Sansonetti

Applied very good physical pressure, nullifying influence of her opponent with her one on one play. Read the play well and was able to cherry pick passes. Was both good at ground level and aerially, producing some good linkup play with the likes of Newton and McKenzie. Fumbled a mark late in the game but recovered well, also producing a great clearing kick from a 50m penalty that finished in a goal to Metro.

EASTERN ALLIES VS. CENTRAL ALLIES

Eastern Allies:

By: Taylah Melki

#10 Abby Favell

Clean hands in and around the contest to feed the ball out of congestion and to teammates streaming past. She used her long booming kick to move the ball down the field and push hard forward. Favell worked tirelessly to win the ball and showcased her vision to flick the ball out to teammates in better positions across the ground. Was a real bull at the stoppages bursting through to gain possession and tackled hard.

#11 Mia King

Good intent and attack on the footy at all times. She tracked the ball well in the air and used the footy cleverly delivering well weighted passes across the field. Good burst of speed through the midfield to open up the forward 50. King displayed her strength and courage standing under the high ball and just taking the knock while also applying strong tackles across the ground. Really good kick and ability to measure her passes to hit her teammates on the chest. Stood up in the tackles time and time again and showcased her strength to still dispose of the ball with players hanging off her. Displayed good evasive skills to sidestep her opponents and work through the traffic. Consistently kept her feet in the contest and led up at the footy creating space across the ground.

#14 Jessica Whelan

Hot start to the game finding plenty of the ball early on. Good hands at ground level to pick the ball up off the deck and then follow up her efforts with a lead in the forward 50. Proved that she was not afraid to take the game on laying a big crunching tackle and winning a dropping the ball call. Good read of the flight of the ball to take a running intercept grab and propel the ball forward.

#17 Lillian Doyle

Slotted the first goal of the game on a tricky angle. She presented well up at the footy and showcased her strength to take a big mark under pressure. Doyle was composed under pressure and made the most of her opportunities in front of goal.

#15 Emily Pease

Really took the game on in the last quarter bursting through the middle and chasing her opponents to force turnovers. Went in hard at the contests and showcased her clean set of hands to work the ball out of the congestion time and time again.

#20 Brenna Tarrant

Won plenty of the footy and showcased her footy smarts to read the play. Worked hard throughout the match and applied good physical pressure to try ad regain possession for the Eastern Allies. Presented well up at the footy and showcased her strength to take the mark on her chest. Showcased a good urgency to move the ball on and create attacking pressure in the forward half.

#21 Olivia O’Donnell

Good read out the middle to get the ball cleanly out of the ruck contest and punch the ball forward. She covered the ground well and provided a spark up forward for the Allies. Good hands in close to dish off handballs to teammates and think her way through traffic.

#22 Hannah Stewart

Really good strong mark above her head stretching the mitts out and taking it cleanly in the opening term. Used her body to position well against her opponent and hold her ground. She was unfazed by the physical contest and rose to the occasion multiple times.

#25 Tarni Evans

Hot start to the second half bursting out of the blocks and showcasing her goal sense to kick her first major for the game. Applied good attacking pressure streaming inside forward 50 and using the space to her advantage to go for goal only for the ball to be cut off at the line.

#27 Emily Hurley

The defender tried hard throughout the game to nullify the influence of her opponent. Took a big intercept mark in the second term to try and repel the attacking forays of Central Allies. She had her work cut out for her with the ball entering with great speed and at high volumes but she held her own on a couple of occasions.

#30 Jordyn Jolliffe

She kicked a goal on the siren to keep the Eastern Allies in the game after taking a big contested mark just outside the goal square. She showcased her strong hands and ability to read the flight of the ball to drop back into the space and take the grab.

Central Allies:

By: Peter Williams

Central Allies:

#2 Madisyn Freeman

A tough player who roamed up and down the ground with the wing and provided an option, kicking well down the wing to hit-up Teah Charlton in the first term. Freeman then went forward and took a good mark inside 50 despite fierce contact coming front-on, converting the set shot. Took another great mark under duress from front on contact at half-forward, showing her strong hands above her head.

#6 Hannah Munyard

One of those players that just does not waste a disposal. Seemed like she had 20-plus touches but only recorded the eight such is her impact on the game. Whilst her first quarter was quiet, she stepped up and hit a lovely kick inside 50 to set up Tayla Hart-Aluni on the lead. She had her own chance on goal in the third term after a nice side-step but her shot went to the right. She worked into the game well in the second half, being a playmaker in the forward half, but also laying a couple of strong tackles. Her only mistake was a missed set shot which went out on the full after a good mark inside 50. Overall one of the classier users by foot in the game.

#9 Jaimi Tabb

One of Central Allies’ best throughout the game, particularly having a massive third term and finishing off stronger in the fourth. She was a tackling machine who time and time again locked the ball up and nullified contests. She began to win more of the ball as the game went on and set up attacking plays in the third term, then was rewarded with a goal making the most of a half chance in the goalsquare late in the third term for a crucial goal and one that would prove to be the match winner. In the dying last couple of minutes, Tabb laid some big tackles to lock the ball up, and when not tackling won the footy and was able to keep it locked away in her clutches so the Eastern Allies could not have an easy exit going forward.

#10 Madison Newman

A prominent player throughout the match, Newman won plenty of the ball in the back half, using her foot skills to kick it outside defensive 50 with some nice rebounding. Often able to get back and take a good mark, flying high at one stage and being able to pull down the grab, Newman showed a kick-first mentality out of the defence. She was often the one teammates found to move the ball in transition.

#13 Kiana Lee

A strong mark and hard worker, Lee took an early grab one-on-one 30m out, but just missed the set shot. She then pushed up to the wing and took a great mark there, kicking further down the ground. Lee kept presenting as a marking target going forward and worked hard with great leading patterns.

#23 Stephanie Williams

Had a couple of nice highlights throughout the game with a burst down the middle and kick inside 50 in the first term the best of them. Williams had another interesting moment at one stage at half-back, winning the footy, paddling it to herself in the air and then punching it forward along the wing after not taking possession to avoid being tackled.

#25 Teah Charlton

A dominant player throughout, but particularly the first half, Charlton was pulling down everything with some terrific marks after long leads up the ground. She did miss a couple of targets by foot with her first couple of kicks, but then used it well thereafter, laying some big tackles including a front-on tackle on the wing to win a free kick. Charlton did not hit the scoreboard as she has in the past games, but her work rate and movement in traffic was terrific, really having an impact on the game.

#26 Montana McKinnon

Presented around the ground and was a steadying influence during frantic moments. She flew high to pull down a number of strong marks, including a couple of contested grabs under pressure. Her best were one at half-forward in the second term coming in from the side, and then a huge intercept mark deep in defence late in the game when the Eastern Allies were attacking. She did well around the ground in the ruck with some nice hitouts, and was able to pump the ball forward, using it well by foot. It was her presence that was the most important thing, always looking to be involved and stepping up when her side needed her.

#27 Tayla Hart-Aluni

Had a busy first term by kicking a set shot goal after a lead, then setting up Kiana Lee for a scoring opportunity inside 50. She had another couple of chances, but could not convert on those occasions, finishing with two behinds. Hart-Aluni managed to push up the ground late in the game and ran hard off half-back to keep the ball moving. A clean player who was noticeable throughout.

Vic Metro claim victory after last quarter fight back from Western Australia

VIC Metro claimed the points over a determined Western Australia in the second game of the day at Metricon Stadium in Round 2 of the AFLW Under 18 Championships after a fast start helped them get on the front foot. In tricky weather conditions Metro proved too good in the end prevailing by 17 points to claim victory. Both teams tussled hard competing for the ball and putting their body on the line in hope to claim the four points. But it was the usual suspects for Vic Metro that stood out with the likes of Gabby Newton, Georgia Patrikios and Ellie McKenzie lighting up the field while for Western Australia Roxanne Roux and Mikayla Bowen showcased their class.

It was a hot start to the game with both the Black Ducks and Metro going toe to toe in hope to claim a good start and carry that momentum throughout the match. Cleo Saxon-Jones opened the account for Metro taking a strong contested grab in the pocket and snapping truly. The ball spent plenty of time in Metro’s forward 50 with Isabella Grant getting on the board early while Emily Harley also chipped in on the scoreboard. Patrikios proved to be a real force to be reckoned with in the midfield with her tackling pressure and clean hands to work the ball out of congestion and to teammates. Newton and McKenzie showcased their talent using the ball well and laying strong tackles while Alyssa Bannan brought her bag of tricks running down the wing and shrugging off a tackle. Western Australia wrestled back some of the momentum trapping the ball inside 50 and applying pressure to create scoring opportunities but were unable to capitalise with the likes of Mikayla Hyde spraying a shot at goal from close range.

Down by 17 points at quarter time the Black Ducks came out with a real fire in the belly, hunting the ball and contesting hard to win the footy both in the air and at ground level but Patrikios and Newton continued their dominance with the two finding plenty of the footy. Metro found some good link up play through the midfield but Western Australia showcased their footy smarts clogging up the space and regaining possession. They slotted their first goal of the afternoon at the three minute mark thanks to Roux taking a strong grab in the goal square and converting. Victoria struggled to move the ball out of defence with the Sandgropers applying strong offensive pressure and covering all of the options. Nell Morris-Dalton showcased her footy skills leading up at the footy in the forward 50 and taking a clever grab, putting Metro’s first on the board in the second quarter. Roux continued to impose herself around the contest going up for a big contested grab but was unable to come down with it cleanly. Patrikios showed that she came to play winning a free kick just on the 50 metre line, sidestepping her opponent on the mark and streaming inside 50 for the ball to just fall short on the goal line with a goal saving punch from Sophie McDonald. Metro regained possession and momentum trapping the ball inside 50 allowing Bannan to take a strong contested grab and goal to kick their second for the term putting them 25 points up at half time.

After half time Metro upped their ante with Patrikios once again finding space and earning herself a free kick. She won a 50 metre free kick and nailed her first goal of the afternoon but was quickly answered by Western Australian excitement machine Roux who bombed it from about 45 out. Sarah Verrier and Bowen showcased their clean hands in tight for WA working the ball through traffic and applying strong tackles to regain possession. The game tightened up with both sides unable to penetrate through the defence forcing the ball to ebb and flow back and forth. Elisabeth Georgostathis lifted her intensity in the third quarter working her way into the game and creating scoring opportunities credit to her footy smarts while Newton and McKenzie also maintained their ball winning abilities.

After a relatively stagnant third term with both sides struggling to create scoring opportunities it turned out to an old fashioned shoot out. Western Australia came out hot with Lily Bird nailing a timely goal after a flurry of handballs along the boundary line to keep her side in it. Vic Metro answered quickly with a long booming kick inside 50 from Saxon-Jones with Bannan back heeling the ball through the big sticks to claim her second for the match. Mikayla Morrison and Bianca Webb imposed themselves in the forward 50 nailing a goal apiece for WA and looking ominous every time the ball came in their direction. Sarah Sansonetti and Felicity Theodore both lifted their intensity and defensive pressure around the contest for Vic Metro smothering the ball and applying strong tackles to try and regain possession for their side. Patrikios took control, standing up under pressure and nailing a pass lace out into the forward 50 to Saxon-Jones who slotted it straight through the middle. Bowen showcased her ability to influence the play reading the flight of the ball and using the footy effectively. Bannan took a strong grab in the dying seconds of the game and with a shot after the siren was unable to convert only registering a point but pushing Metro’s lead out to 17 points.

Patrikios finished with an impressive 21 disposals and five tackles while teammates Newton and McKenzie amassed 14 and 16 touches respectively. Nicola Xenos was a tackling machine for Metro with nine for the game with Georgostathis close behind with seven. For the Sandgropers, Verrier led the way with 15 touches and nine tackles while Bowen picked up 14 for her efforts. Mim Strom was a standout in the ruck with a massive 36 hitouts from her 13 touches and three tackles, as Roux ably assisted with 18 mostly in the final term, as well as 11 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s and a two goals.

VIC METRO 3.0 | 5.2 | 6.2 | 8.3 (51)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 0.1 | 1.1 | 2.3 | 5.4 (34)

GOALS:

VM: C. Saxon-Jones 2, A. Bannan 2, E. Harley, I. Grant, G. Patrikios, N. Morris-Dalton.
WA: R. Roux 2, L. Bird, B. Webb, M. Morrison.

ADC BEST:

VM: G. Patrikios, G. Newton, E. McKenzie, C. Saxon-Jones, A. Barba, E. Georgostathis
WA: M. Bowen, R. Roux, M. Strom, S. Verrier, M. Hyde, E. Smith

AFLW U18 Championships preview: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

VICTORIA’S top under-age female footballers lock horns in the final game of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships Series One. Vic Country takes on Vic Metro at Avalon Airport Oval tomorrow, with both sides packed to the brim with talent. After facing off in the NAB League Girls competition all year, the best of the best now team up for state pride as they prepare for Series Two of the competition up on the Gold Coast in a fortnight. We take a look at both sides and analyse the key strengths of the teams.

Note: The game will be live streamed via the NAB League website with commentary from Under-18 and VFLW commentator Matthew Cocks, and Draft Central Chief Editor Peter Williams.

VIC COUNTRY

B: 10. Sophie Locke – 22. Millie Brown – 30. Daisy Smith
HB: 19. Brooke Vernon – 14. Abbey Chapman – 15 Isabella Shannon
C: 12. Tyanna Smith – 23. Lucy McEvoy – 13. Molly McDonald
HF: 3. Paige Sheppard – 27. Shanara Notman – 24. Isabella Simmons
F: 4. Renee Saulitis – 25. Olivia Barber – 9. Darcy Moloney
R: 29. Maggie Caris – 11. Brooke Hards – 5. Luka Lesosky-Hay
INT: 21. Sophie Molan – 1. Elise Vella – 28. Georgia Howes – 18. Kate Douglass – 6. Laura Gardiner – 16. Renee Tierney

Vic Country is unsurprisingly packed with 2018 premiers and 2019 finalists, Geelong Falcons, with nine of the 24 players named in the Country squad from the Falcons team. Given exciting forward Mia Skinner is injured, their representation could well have reached double figures for the Aasta O’Connor-coached side. The aspects to like about Vic Country will be their defence, hardness at the ball and the X-factor up forward.

1. Defence

The Country side has two genuine lockdown talls who can also provide some rebound in Abbey Chapman and Kate Douglass, while Millie Brown – named at full-back is an offensive defender with a terrific set of hands and can push up into the midfield to provide support. Brooke Vernon was the best rebounding medium defender this year and having her at half-back will be an asset, while seeing Isabella Shannon named in the back half is a surprise, but just shows her versatility having played mostly through midfield and up forward. She does have the capacity to drop back into the hole in defence, and no doubt she will be required to do so with the tall Metro attack likely to stretch the defence. Sophie Locke will likely lock down on a smaller opponent – perhaps Nicola Xenos or Jess Fitzgerald when forward – while Daisy Smith can do the same, although she is more likely to play tall. Given the height and marking ability of the Metro side, they might need three talls in defence to counteract Metro’s strength in the air.

2. Hardness at the ball

If you look at the starting five midfield of Brooke Hards, Luka Lesosky-Hay, Tyanna Smith, Lucy McEvoy and Molly McDonald, the first thing that comes to mind is – you would not want to be an opposition midfielder. They attack the ball hard, and will rack up the contested ball and is an area they can exploit Metro. Smith has a point of difference with her pace, as does the outside run of Elise Vella coming off the bench, but the speed that Metro possesses will trouble the Country side. It is why winning it at the coalface is so important, and McEvoy, Hards and McDonald in particular will not take a backwards step, being captains and potential future captain of their respective NAB League girls clubs. With Maggie Caris in the ruck, the midfield will get first look at it more often than not, and that midfield also includes the likes of Sophie Molan and Laura Gardiner coming off the bench, as well as Paige Sheppard and Darcy Moloney who can rotate through there, as can Shannon and Brown.

3. X-factor up forward

The named Vic Country forward line is almost one to watch for 2020, with four of the six starting forwards not eligible to be drafted until next year. The two exceptions are Shanara Notman – an exciting key position player with a huge leap and terrific hands, who has spent time in defence this year for Gippsland Power after sitting out last year – and Paige Sheppard – who is one of the better kicks in the team, setting up forward plays with great precision kicking and vision. Otherwise, the remaining four still have plenty of time to develop, with Olivia Barber one of the most exciting key forwards coming through, able to make the right leads and clunk marks, just needing to iron out her set shots at times. Isabella Simmons is a tall prospect with good athleticism who roams up to the wing and can play tall or small at ground level, while Darcy Moloney and Renee Saulitis are clever forwards who if you give them an inch will take a mile. Moloney has spent time in the midfield for the Falcons this year, while Saulitis has also proven to be a more than capable defender, so versatility is something the Country side has in spades. The forward line has the nice balance of talls and smalls, and of course chuck in Renee Tierney and Georgia Howes off the bench – Howes will also share the ruck load with Caris – and there is plenty of scoring potential there.

VIC METRO

B: 2. Felicity Theodore – 28. Isabelle Pritchard – 14. Laura McClelland
HB: 22. Sarah Hartwig – 20. Sarah Sansonetti – 12. Alice Burke
C: 8. Mimi Hill – 13. Britney Gutknecht – 17. Georgia Patrikios
HF: 26. Gabrielle Newton – 29. Cleo Saxon-Jones – 24. Isabella Grant
F: 15. Alyssa Bannan – 23. Nell Morris-Dalton – 4. Nicola Xenos
R: 27. Molly Denahy Moloney – 3. Gemma Lagioia – 21. Ellie McKenzie
INT: 19. Marguerite Purcell – 5. Elisabeth Georgostathis – 34. Jessica Fitzgerald – 10. Alana Barba – 18. Emma Horne – 9. Bella Eddey

Vic Metro will head into this game pretty confident following their win over Vic Country last year as arguable underdogs. This year they will likely go in as favourites, but it is predicted to be a tight contest. There are quite a few reasons for their favouritism, but the forward line marking ability is the number one aspect, while others include their speed, and intercept marking.

1. Marks inside 50

The Metro side has a dynamic forward line, with many incredibly athletic at ground level and can impress in the air or at ground level. The two that are the genuine key position players – Cleo-Saxon Jones and Nell Morris-Dalton – are arguably the two best contested marks in the competition this year, and throwing them into attack with Gabby Newton, Isabella Grant and Alyssa Bannan means the attack has a massive advantage for high balls coming in. The Vic Country defence will need to be on their guard with the forward line also capable of pushing up the ground and rotating through the midfield with any one of those five capable of playing as a key position player, while all have the possibility of giving a chop out in the ruck. Nicola Xenos is the sixth forward, who adds more speed at ground level and can also play out of defence or along the wing. Emma Horne, Jess Fitzgerald or Bella Eddey are all named on the bench, and the trio can add that smaller element to the forward mix, particularly Eddey who can play tall or small with plenty of X-factor.

2. Speed

Having already spoke about Vic Country’s advantage on the inside, Vic Metro’s advantage is on the outside, and particularly with speed. Most of the starting midfield has serious wheels, with Gemma Lagioia, Ellie McKenzie and Mimi Hill all capable to taking off on runs. Georgia Patrikios is the most agile player in the competition, so expect her to use her trademark sidestep to get around opponents, while Britney Gutknecht can also get herself out of trouble. While Country does have more hardness on the inside, McKenzie and Gutknecht will form the same bond they did in the Knights’ premiership side, looking to extract the ball out to their runners, or take the game on themselves. Fitzgerald is another who adds to the speed and is one of the best kicks in the side, while Marguerite Purcell also adds some outside run. Alana Barba was one of the most prolific tacklers in the NAB League Girls competition, so she will assists Gutknecht and McKenzie rotating off the bench, while Elisabeth Georgostathis will likely spend time through the midfield and rotate with Alice Burke off half-back. If the Vic Country midfield gets on top on the inside, do not be surprised to see Georgostathis and Burke thrown into the middle with Gutknecht or McKenzie to add some extra grunt. Molly Denahy Moloney will hope to counteract the leap of Caris, but does have her when it comes to around the ground, with Denahy Moloney one of the better athletes among the talls.

3. Intercept marking

We talked about the strength in the air in attack, but the embarrassment of riches down back in terms of the three tall defenders is a luxury that Vic Metro has. Sarah Hartwig and Isabelle Pritchard are arguably the two best intercept markers – along with teammate Sarah Sansonetti and Country duo Brown and Chapman – and they will likely pick off anything that comes their way. They can all play as rebounding defenders or to shut down their opponent, with Sansonetti the top shutdown tall, while Hartwig is the top rebounding tall. The mix can be swapped around depending on how games play out at the championships, but to have the three – two of which are middle-age and will form the key defensive partnership next year – is something Metro coach Nathan Burke will love. With running machine Felicity Theodore and Alice Burke also back there, the Metro team have speed and defensive pressure that can run down forwards heading into goal. Laura McClelland is more often known for her ability in the forward half, but she can mark the ball and find space well, adding to the height in defence. As mentioned, Georgostathis is another player who might rotate through the defensive mix, while Barba is also known to drop back into defence at times, allowing for some versatility for the Metro coaching staff.

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Grand Final

IT was a massive NAB League Girls Grand Final with Northern Knights coming out on top as 30-point winners over Calder Cannons. In an exciting day of action, there were certainly plenty of standout performances on the big stage. Here are our opinion-based scouting notes on a mix of the most outstanding players on the day, and others selected in the Victorian sides for this year’s National Championships.

Northern
By: Sophie Taylor

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

True to her number, Morris-Dalton kicked three goals to ultimately lead her side to victory, providing a great target inside 50 and showing off her clever movement into space to advantage of the ball. Her marking ability was solid inside 50, while a great passage of play saw her kick the only Knights goal for the second quarter from their first inside 50 of the term. Showcased her ability to free herself from opposition, getting off the body to take control of the space.

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan was on fire early, kicking her first goal within minutes of the first bounce to open Northern’s account for the afternoon. Also all but cemented victory for Northern with a goal right in the goal square in the late stages of the match for the final score of the game. Other than her accuracy in front of goal, Bannan showcased her good run and carry and pressure on the ball carrier, causing messiness when Calder headed inside 50.

#14 Jess Fitzgerald

Player of the Match, Fitzgerald put on a solid performance well deserving of her title in what was a strong shared effort for the Knights. Her five tackles contributed to the great pressure her side put on the Cannons, while her clean marking ability allowed her a shot on goal – and though going through for a behind, put in the hard yards to gain back possession. Also showed some good game smarts to handball under pressure out of a pack to carry the ball forward.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Sansonetti was good one-on-one, putting constant pressure on her opposition as she forced intercepts and crowded the space. Had a solid kick but was intercepted on a few occasions, though was fortunate the rest of Northern’s defensive unit was also standing up. Also put her quick hands into practice on the wing, handballing to a passing player in better space, also marking well under the pump to clear the ball back out of defence.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

McKenzie was solid, taking a good contested mark early for a snap on goal, rewarded for her efforts with the ball going through the big sticks. Had a good eye to kick inside 50 to Morris-Dalton on her own in a similar position to McKenzie’s first goal, while her marking ability was exceptional with six to her name. Had a great run down the far wing late in the match, showcasing her speed and ability to free herself from opposition players and fitting in about seven bounces as she coasted from the defensive 50 into attack.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Gutknecht had a solid match, picking up an equal-second 14 disposals for the Knights in a shared effort across the ground. Her five tackles and five handballs proved necessary through midfield, gaining ground as she found her way clear to get the ball out of congestion courtesy of her two-way running ability and skill scooping up the ground ball. Also had a chance on goal from 40m out but bounced through for a behind.

#23 Gabby Newton

Had some great passages of play, continually pressing the ball forward as she used the space to create options and opportunities down field. Her 15 touches were put to good use, using her body to get hands on the footy. Took some good contested marks as well as being a pivotal ball mover with two inside 50s and two rebounds as she appeared to be everywhere on the ground at once. Good awareness of not just the ball, but also of her opposition and teammates as she kicked cleanly to advantage and shared the load.

Calder
By: Taylah Melki

#2 Felicity Theodore 

Good intercept mark in the first term but was relatively quiet. Her move up forward was inspired able to showcase her strong hands to take important marks. She took two good grabs in the fourth quarter and presented well up at the footy. She showcased her quick hands under pressure and desire to win the ball throughout the game.

#11 Alana Barba

Barba was strong around the contest for the Cannons applying good tackling pressure and making her presence felt across the ground. She was involved involved early and used her clean hands to dish off handballs to passing teammates. Barba won her fair share of the footy and covered the ground well, she consistently went in hard at the ball and stood up in a strong tackle. She tracked the footy well at ground level and imposed herself on the contest when the ball came her way.

#21 Georgia Patrikios 

Patrikios worked tirelessly throughout the game leading her side with her clean hands, impeccable vision and never say die attitude. She used her quick hands and willingness to play on to spur the Cannons into attack. Patrikios showcased her ability to read the play well almost taking a good mark when the ball was coming out of their attacking 50. She used her impressive long booming kick into the forward 50 to create scoring chances for her side. She took a good intercept mark early in the third quarter and applied strong pressure laying solid tackles throughout the game. Clean pick up off the ground to keep the ball moving and had good body positioning to win the ball for the Cannons. Quick hands out of defence and good control of the ball. She showcased her speed going for a good dash through the middle of the ground to kick into the forward 50 and create a scoring opportunity.

#31 Krstel Petrevski

She had a relatively quiet game and was well kept by the Knights but she still had her moments of magic working hard to win the ball and using her body well to out position her opponent. She showcased her slick hands with a clever handball into space and worked her way into the game in the third term. She utilised her long kick to push the ball forward and create options for the Cannons.  

#41 Georgie Prespakis

Prespakis was a key player for the Cannons throughout the game with her desperation, strength and clever use of the ball an important feature of her game. She showcased her clean hands and impressive strength to shake off a tackler and dispose of the ball to Patrikios. She showcased her emotion midway through the second term getting into a scuffle with that only sparking her ferocity and intensity for the rest of the match. she really built herself into the game with her good forward pressure and ability to win the ball time and time again. She was clean off the deck and won her fair share of clearances around the ground. She patrolled the defensive end well sticking to her player and showcased her ability to read the play, wining the ball one on one credit to her footy smarts. Good vision to kick to space and use her impressive evasive skills to dodge opponents and then dish the ball off on the wing. Prespakis worked tirelessly all game and showed good elevation and control of the footy. Consistently used her body well and won plenty of the footy across the ground with clever linkup play with Patrikios throughout the game. A real standout for the Cannons in a difficult loss.

Northern Knights soar to go one better in 2019 with 33-point premiership victory

NORTHERN Knights have capitalised on their opportunities in a memorable 33-point premiership win over Calder Cannons at Ikon Park in near-perfect conditions. While grey skies threatened to rain on the game, no one or nothing could rain on the Knights parade, who stormed to victory in a terrific team effort, deserving of the only side who could go through the 2019 season undefeated. They held Calder goalless despite the Cannons piling on the pressure in the second term, to win 6.3 (39) to 0.6 (6). Jess Fitzgerald won the best on ground medal from 15 disposals, four marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds, while Nell Morris-Dalton starred with 10 marks and three goals. Alyssa Bannan booted the book-end goals of the game while Ellie McKenzie also converted on her opportunity in front of goal. For the Cannons, Georgie Prespakis and Georgia Patrikios were typically superb, while Alisa Magri looked damaging up front despite missing some chances. Emelia Yassir also played her role for the Cannons.

Northern booted their first goal through Bannan with the ball bouncing over her head but she cleanly grabbed it and snapped around her body for a goal a few minutes into the opening term. Fitzgerald had a couple of chances, going inside 50 but the Cannons defence was holding up. Gabby Newton started having an impact just outside 50 and produced a great kick to Fitzgerald but her shot was touched in the square and hit the post. McKenzie put the Knights’ second goal on the board from 15m out after a couple of chances, having a long-range shot, fell short and Tallia Pulcino won a free for in the back. Her shot on goal came off the side of the boot, but McKenzie was in the right spot with a terrific contested mark and goal. McKenzie was in the action shortly after, kicking perfectly after winning a free to hit up Morris-Dalton deep one-on-one who converted easily and the Knights were out to a 19-point lead at quarter time. Patrikios, Prespakis, Alana Barba and Felicity Theodore all had moments in the first term, but the Cannons struggled to get the ball and did not get it inside 50.

The second quarter was an arm-wrestle to start the term with Patrikios getting a heap of the ball, but could not capitalise with a couple of wild chances on goal. A chance from Yassir and Magri went the wrong side of the sticks. After dominating the term, Calder could only manage a couple of behinds and the first inside 50 of the term to the Knights saw Morris-Dalton run onto the ball and kick from point blank range and boot her second major. The Knights now lead by 23 points and were coming from everywhere to celebrate her goal. Patrikios had a chance to narrow the gap herself but was dragged down and the ball bounced the wrong side of the post. Makeisha Muller then had a chance from a snap set shot but it slammed into the woodwork for the Cannons’ fourth straight behind. The siren sounded shortly after and for all their effort, the Cannons had booted 0.4 to the Knights’ 1.0 to trail 4.1 (25) to 0.4 (4).

The third term started with the Knights rebounding out of defence, as Newton had a couple of deft touches in to keep the ball moving in space and heading forward. A timely intercept mark by Patrikios dropping back to half-back repelled the attack. The Knights were pressing however, and eventually the ball got free from Bannan at a stoppage over the top of a couple of opponents to Morris-Dalton who ran on and kicked her third major of the game. Trailing by 26 points, the Cannons had an attempt on goal off the ground but mistimed and went out of bound. Calder was refusing to give in and having its share of opportunities despite Northern being efficient when going forward. Prespakis went onto McKenzie in defence in a match-up that draft watchers were keen to see for the future and the first contest saw Prespakis pick up the loose ball after McKenzie slip over and kick long, then read the ball perfectly again and kicked to the wing. Bannan gave it over to McKenzie who was immediately tackled by Patrikios in defence, but was deemed to have infringed and McKenzie had a set shot which fell short in the square. The Cannons were holding up in defence, but for all the intercept marks in defence, could not push it past half-back and the Knights continued to drive hard forward. Britney Gutknecht had a chance on goal from 40m but it drifted to the right and bounced through for a behind and the Knights led 5.2 (32) to Calder 0.4 (4). The siren sounded and the Knights were 15 minutes away from the premiership glory that eluded them 12 months earlier.

Sensing the urgency in the game, Calder rushed the ball forward and Magri had a shot on goal but just missed. And the deficit was 27 points again. The Cannons continued to push forward and throw everything out on the table, with Theodore pushing forward and taking a good mark and sending it inside 50. It led to Magri winning a free for high contact and having a set shot from 25m out, which drifted to the left and all but spelled the end for Calder’s chances. McKenzie had the highlight of the match, taking a massive seven-bounce run from half-back to half-forward as the crowd got behind her. The Knights were going to hold on with seven minutes left. If the game was not already done and dusted, by the time Bannan ran onto an intercept ball and slammed it home from point blank, it was game over. The Knights were celebrating with just two minutes left as they led by 33 points. The Cannons defence had held up relatively well in a game that the Knights had control of, and were efficient with their inside 50s, but the minor premiers were just too strong, running out the game to run out 33-point winners, 5.9 (39) to 0.6 (6).

Aside from Fitzgerald and Morris-Dalton who were prominent in the forward half, Newton had 15 disposals, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while Sarah Sansonetti had 14 disposals and three rebounds stopping multiple Cannons attacks. Gutknecht (14 dipsosals, two marks and five tackles) was also prolific for the winners, while Patrikios (24 disposals, nine tackles, six inside 50s and six rebounds) and Prespakis (20 disposals, four tackles, two inside 50s, two rebounds) both impressed.

For full game and individual player statistics click here.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 3.1 | 4.1 | 5.2 | 5.9 (39)
CALDER CANNONS 0.0 | 0.4 | 0.4 | 0.6 (6)

GOALS:

Northern: N. Morris-Dalton 3, A. Bannan 2, E. McKenzie.
Calder: Nil.

ADC BEST:

Northern: J. Fitzgerald, G. Newton, N. Morris-Dalton, E. McKenzie, B. Gutknecht, S. Sansonetti
Calder: G. Prespakis, G. Patrikios, E. Yassir, A. Magri, A. Barba, F. Theodore