Tag: Geelong Falcons

NAB League Girls Preliminary Finals wash-up: Northern and Calder to meet in decider

THE NAB League season finale is set, with the unbeaten Northern Knights qualifying first, and the Calder Cannons securing their spot with a massive upset win over reigning premiers, Geelong at Shepley Oval on Saturday.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.1 | 4.3 | 7.7 | 7.7 (49)
EASTERN RANGES 2.0 | 4.0 | 5.1 | 7.1 (43)

GOALS:
Northern:
N. Morris-Dalton 4, E. McKenzie, M. Appleby, A. Bannan.
Eastern: M. Di Cosmo 2, J. Dunning, T. Flintoff, R. Hall, O. Meagher, T. Merrett.

BEST:
Northern:
N. Morris-Dalton, G. Newton, E. McKenzie, S. Sansonetti, M. Chaplin, P. Chisholm
Eastern: O. Meagher, M. Kendall, J. Richardson, S. Gibbs, M. Di Cosmo, E. Horne

Northern Knights became the first team to qualify for the 2019 NAB League Grand Final, but were made to work for it by the Eastern Ranges in a tense Preliminary Final at Shepley Oval. The sides went goal for goal in the opening term after Northern middle-ager Ellie McKenzie snapped truly to first trouble the scorers. The Knights looked like breaking away in the second stanza as Maykaylah Appleby backed up Nell Morris-Dalton‘s second goal with another major, but the Ranges would hit back with two goals of their own through midfield stars Tess Flintoff and Olivia Meagher to trail by just three points at half time. When Madeline Di Cosmo kicked the Ranges’ third-straight goal to snatch the lead at the start of the third term, an upset loomed large – right up until Morris-Dalton had her say. Two quick goals from the Knights’ forward saw Northern reclaim the lead, and an Alyssa Bannan goal ensured they would go into the final break with a 15-point buffer. Despite a late Eastern charge with two goals to nil over the quarter, and the margin cut to six points with over two minutes left, the Knights held on to remain undefeated and scrape into a second-straight Grand Final. McKenzie was outstanding in the closing stages for the winners, thrown into the midfield and contributing some vital touches when the heat was on. Her midfield partner and skipper, Gabby Newton also played a big hand, while the goals of Morris-Dalton ultimately proved the difference. Sarah Sansonetti had her hands full down back but stood tall, with Maeve Chaplin another defender to be named amongst the best. Meagher led the charge through midfield for the combative Eastern side, with Flintoff proving her partner in crime. The likes of Serena Gibbs and Tahlia Merrett caused headaches with their height and versatility, while Di Cosmo provided the scoring pressure with her two majors. Eastern showed plenty of promise and really took it to Northern at times when other sides could have given in, but the Knights proved too strong and rightly cemented their spot in the competition decider.

GEELONG FALCONS 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.4 | 1.5 (11)
CALDER CANNONS 3.2 | 4.3 | 5.3 | 7.4 (46)

GOALS:
Geelong:
M. Skinner.
Calder: Z. Hardiman 2, A. Magri 2, E. Yassir, G. Prespakis, A. Barba.

BEST:
Geelong:
L. McEvoy, A. Chapman, R. Tierney, P. Schaap, G. Featherston , L. Lesosky-Hay
Calder: E. Yassir, G. Sampson, G. Prespakis, G. Patrikios, K. Lennox, A. Barba

The Calder Cannons saved arguably their best performance for just the right occasion, scoring one of the upsets of the season as they toppled Geelong Falcons by 35 points to book a spot in the Grand Final. The underdogs came out hard, pouring the pressure on Geelong and hitting the scoreboard early to open up a three-goal quarter time lead. In a similar fashion to how their game against Northern went, the Falcons came out hard in the second term and looked to mount a comeback as Mia Skinner bagged their first goal. But when Georgie Prespakis nailed a set shot in reply, it looked more and more unlikely with the Cannons taking a 19-point lead into the main break. A Zoe Hardiman goal in the opening two minutes of the third stanza all but put the result beyond doubt, as the Cannons kept their foot on the gas with unrelenting pressure to keep the game locked up, and Geelong goalless for another quarter. Two more goals in the final term, including Hardiman’s second, cemented the win as the Falcons again could only manage a behind, with the Calder crowd in raptures on the back of their side’s big-time display. Bottom-agers Emelia Yassir and Kasey Lennox played out of their skin at either end, while fellow ’03 birth Prespakis was again phenomenal with every touch of the ball. Georgia Patrikios led the Cannons from the front with her mix of flair and toughness, with fellow midfielder Alana Barba starting well to find the goals and Alisa Magri joining Hardiman with two goals. Skinner finished as Geelong’s sole goal kicker, while skipper Lucy McEvoy a beacon of light in the tough loss through midfield and in the ruck. Abbey Chapman provided a calm head in the beaten Falcons back six, with fellow defender Liz Dowling standing up as an impressive bottom-ager alongside Poppy Schapp. Renee Tierney spent time on each line to good effect, with Luka Lesosky-Hay putting in her usual combative shift. The loss saw Geelong end its season with just one win from their last three tries after previously going unbeaten in their premiership defence, and it would be a hard one to take given they had beaten Calder just three weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Cannons look to be peaking at the right time and move on to the decider, sure to give Northern a hell of a test if this game is anything to go by.

NAB League Girls Preliminary Finals preview – Grand Final spots up for grabs at Shepley

FINALS fever hits the NAB League Girls competition, with a revamped finals series set to get underway at Shepley Oval on Saturday. A spot in the grand final is on the line in both games as first does battle with fourth, and second plays third. In the weekend’s other game, Oakleigh hosts Tasmania at Windy Hill in a one-off exhibition.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS (1st, 8-0-1) vs. EASTERN RANGES (4th, 6-3)
Saturday May 18, 12:30pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Round 9:
Northern Knights 7.8 (50) defeated Greater Western Victoria Rebels 0.5 (5)
Eastern Ranges 3.1 (19) defeated by Sandringham Dragons 3.5 (23)

Last Meeting:
Round 5 – Northern Knights 7.8 (50) defeated Eastern Ranges 4.2 (26) @ La Trobe University Oval

MATCH PREVIEW

The undefeated Knights came into the year as strong premiership fancies, and firmed as favourites with their 36-point Round 8 win over reigning premiers, Geelong – avenging their 2018 grand final defeat and snapping the Falcons’ two-year winning run in one fell swoop. The only hiccup in Northern’s season thus far was a Round 2 draw with Oakleigh, with the best attack in the league and a raft of stars helping them ease to eight wins – including ones over two fellow finals sides. They are only one step away from a second-consecutive grand final berth, but an exciting Eastern team stands in the way. The Ranges are one of the best marking sides in the competition, and can compete with most teams on their day, but suffered a couple of disappointing losses to lower-ranked sides and had a close encounter with Tasmania in Round 7. Their narrow margins of victory and defeat – including three wins by under a goal – make for heart-stopping games, but their more convincing wins like their 51-point one over Gippsland show why they are always a chance. Eastern’s prime movers in the middle include potential 2020 Collingwood father-daughter selection Tarni Brown, as well as gun bottom-ager Tess Flintoff, and Olivia Meagher, but their most potent threats will come through the tall duo of Laura McClelland and Serena Gibbs forward of centre. Northern key back Sarah Sansonetti has been in terrific in recent weeks, and could well find herself playing on both of those Ranges talls throughout the game. While her role will prove vital, if the likes of Gabby Newton, Britney Gutknecht, and Ellie McKenzie are thrown into the middle at the same time as we have seen recently, it may be tough for the Ranges to venture forward in the first place. The versatility of those three will make a huge difference, and one would think the range of Knights weapons could well prove too much as it did in the side’s previous meeting. With Northern getting one back on Geelong two weeks ago to come in as the top seed, and Eastern suffering a defeat in their final regular season outing, this will be a tough mountain to climb for the Ranges.

KEY PLAYERS

Northern:

Gabby Newton

The Northern skipper has been sensational throughout the year, averaging almost 20 disposals over her eight NAB League games. Much has already been made of her basketball background, with the gun midfielder showing off her hops in the ruck at times and her equally impressive composure in traffic to no end. While her starting position will most likely be at the centre bounces, Newton’s role as a general behind the ball will be key in this clash – with a potent Eastern tall duo likely to line up down forward. Her intercept marking and overall overhead prowess is profound, so look for that to be a feature in this game along with her consistent ball-winning ability – with over 20 disposals in five games this year. Versatile and damaging, Newton is key.

Eastern:

Serena Gibbs

Gibbs is one of three Eastern talls who pose an enormous risk to the Northern defence, often trading time between centre half-forward and the ruck. If she is matched up on Northern’s Sarah Sansonetti, the clash becomes one of the more important ones for the game with the likes of Laura McClelland and Tahlia Merrett also able to be freed up should they play forward at the same time. Gibbs has found the goals in seven of her nine NAB League appearances, led by a dominant 3.4 from 18 disposals against Gippsland in Round 8. While her Round 9 return saw her collect under 10 disposals for just the third time, Gibbs has been a consistently dangerous threat and will be a key focal point this time around.

GEELONG FALCONS (2nd, 8-1) vs. CALDER CANNONS (3rd, 6-3)
Saturday May 18, 2:15pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Round 9:
Geelong Falcons 8.7 (55) defeated Murray Bushrangers 1.1 (7)
Calder Cannons 5.7 (37) defeated Gippsland Power 1.0 (6)

Last Meeting:
Round 7 – Geelong Falcons 3.2 (20) defeated Calder Cannons 1.0 (6) @ RAMS Arena

MATCH PREVIEW

The Geelong Falcons bounced back well from their Round 8 loss to Northern – their first since May 2017 – to secure second place with a welcome return to form, toppling Murray by 48 points after conceding the first goal. Their depth across all lines is scary good, but their premiership defence has largely been built on a typically sturdy back six and dominant midfield, with their forward structure taking greater shape across the year. Abbey Chapman has led the league’s stingiest defence all year, with the Falcons’ highest score conceded (43) coming against Northern, while the likes of skipper Lucy McEvoy, Paige Sheppard, and Luka Lesosky-Hay have been instrumental in the engine room. Pair the inside grunt of those three with the outside class of Laura Gardiner and Darcy Moloney on either wing, and you have a midfield that is hard to beat to say the least. Mia Skinner has been the spearhead forward of centre, booting a league-high 18 goals – including two bags of four – having only been held goalless on two occasions, in Rounds 7 and 8. The Cannons have some firepower of their own, which more often than not comes from star duo, Georgia Patrikios and Georgie Prespakis. Both have the ability to not only find a wealth of the ball through the middle, but to also find the goals – exemplified by Prespakis’ bag of seven in Round 2 from full forward. Prespakis, the sister of Carlton star Maddie, has averaged 23.3 disposals over her eight games with two returns of over 30 touches, while Patrikios averages just over 22 in her seven outings, and the pair should provide a dynamism that Geelong will have to pay great attention to. Include talls at either end, such as the likes of Alana Barba up forward and Krstel Petrevski, along with Makeisha Muller at ground level, and there are some interesting moving parts to the Calder line-up. Having already gotten the better of Calder as recently as in Round 7, Geelong will be confident of repeating the feat and storming into another grand final. If Calder can again keep the Falcons to under four goals though, then anything can happen. Expect fireworks either way.

KEY PLAYERS

Geelong:

Lucy McEvoy

Able to be utilised on each line, the Falcons skipper is arguably her side’s most important player. An ultra-consistent force, McEvoy has only dropped below 20 disposals once in her eight games – incidentally in the Falcons’ only loss – to average 22.2 disposals per outing. Her presence at the centre bounces in undeniable, using her size to prize the ball out and her composure to flick out effective handballs to receivers. In general play, McEvoy utilises a booming kick to rebound and enter either arc, while positioning herself a kick behind the play to act as an impenetrable wall at both ends. Her overhead marking is a feature, but expect to see her mostly in the thick of the midfield action given Calder’s strength in that area.

Calder:

Georgia Patrikios

Patrikios is all but equal to McEvoy in her disposal output, but provides a different kind of threat from midfield. Having shown how damaging she can be on the outside during her bottom-age year, Patrikios has developed into a balanced midfielder very quickly, but is still often seen bursting away from congestion and delivering forward with aplomb. The Cannons star’s best game came in Round 7 against the Falcons, collecting 31 disposals and finding the goals, so she will hope to produce more of the same here. With the strength of Geelong’s midfield obvious, Patrikios’ point of difference in her pace will be key amidst that battle.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday May 19, 11:00am
Windy Hill

Oakleigh hosts Tasmania on neutral ground for a one-off friendly game, completing a hat-trick of Devils NAB League appearances. With Oakleigh narrowly missing finals, this game poises the travelling side against the best of the rest as finals gets underway, and will be a third opportunity for them to pick up a win in the competition. Tasmania entered in Round 7 with two games over three days, going down to Western by 37 points under Friday night lights, and giving Eastern a mighty scare just two days later. Oakleigh will be keen to finish off the season with another win to make it six all up, but the Devils showed their fighting spirit already and should provide a good test for the Chargers. The game will also be a curtain raiser for the NAB League boys clash between Gippsland and Greater Western Victoria at 1:00.

Draft Central Rising Star: NAB League Girls – Round 4

FOR the fourth consecutive week, a different NAB League Girls side has provided the Draft Central Rising Star of the Week. After three weeks of metropolitan representation, reigning premiers Geelong Falcons have become the first country team with a nomination after hard working midfielder, Luka Lesosky-Hay took out the nomination for Round 4.

Lesosky-Hay had a competition record 31 touches, eight marks, one tackle and three inside 50s againgst the GWV Rebels, as well as a few chances on goal. She was a crucial part of the Falcons’ line-up that is yet to lose a game this season, after winning 4.17 (41) to 0.5 (5) in windy and wet conditions at City Oval, Ballarat. Lesosky-Hay has enjoyed a consistent top-age year filling the void for Olivia Purcell in that inside role, averaging 23.8 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.0 tackles and 3.5 inside 50s per game. The Falcons come up against Dandenong Stingrays next week in what should be an exciting contest.

 

Rising Star of the Week:

Round 1 – Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons)
Round 2 – Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western Jets)
Round 3 – Gabby Newton (Northern Knights)

Round 4 – LUKA LESOSKY-HAY (GEELONG FALCONS)

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

Football culture wins over Denby Taylor

DESCRIBED as “Dad’s only son”, Denby Taylor has forged her own sporting pathway after growing up balancing both football and netball. Taylor said he father was a “footy nut” and could not be prouder that the Geelong Falcons star had followed football.

“I’d probably say my dad has been the biggest influence,” she said. “I suppose getting four daughters, given he’s a footy nut, wasn’t the best thing I suppose, for him, I think now he’s pretty happy and proud of where I’ve come. “I finished netball last year so I was playing that for about maybe nine years or so. “I followed my sister’s footsteps in the netball path, and sort of made my own pathway in the football. ‘Dad’s only son’ I get called.”

Taylor said she loved the fact that football just focused on the sport itself, and enjoyed the physical nature of the contest compared to other codes she had tried.

“The difference in the games obviously so much more physical and there’s the culture as well,” she said. “I think netball and a lot of other sports can get a little bit political, but footy just focuses on the footy and I really like that. “Footy for me is probably the culture that keeps me coming back, I really like how much of the culture and the tight knit community that the club provides. I suppose the physicality of the game as well, it’s quite different to most other games, it’s quite enjoyable.”

Taylor was kicking a football around from a young age, but then gave up the sport to pursue netball, before returning once Youth Girls had begun to rise in popularity.

“I started with Auskick, dad brought me down to the local club and started playing there and then after a couple of years I wasn’t very keen on playing with the boys so I gave up the footy and then started again when I was about 13 with the youth girls,” Taylor said. “Then I continued playing Youth Girls up until last year, and then representative footy as well along the way. “(I) did Geelong Falcons for the past couple of years and the national carnivals for a couple of years as well. “Between that I was playing netball as well for Newtown and Chilwell.”

While Taylor had been known best as a rebounding defender this season, her stints up forward were actually a throwback to where she had played the last few seasons.

“I’ve only recently started playing back and I’ve been loving it so, it’s a really great experience to switch up roles, but I suppose I’m comfortable down forward, it’s where I played a lot of my footy,” Taylor said. “It’s quite a big transition but I’m really happy being down back now.”

Upon reflection, Taylor said she and the rest of her Geelong Falcons teammates had enjoyed the 2018 premiership following a perfect, undefeated season, but now her focus was purely on the draft. In particular, the versatile utility said she was working hard to build her fitness ahead of the AFL Women’s Draft Combine next month. She knows the competition has intensified at both TAC Cup Girls and AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships.

“I think some of my family comes and watches the games,” Taylor said of the TAC Cup Girls. “They say every year it lifts so much, the quality and the community and how everyone’s getting around it is just getting a lot better. “It (the AFL Women’s Championships) was in Queensland again. “I had family up there who hadn’t seen football for a whole year between the last championships and they pretty much just said ‘wow, that’s unbelievable how much it’s changed and how much it’s changed since last year’ so I think that really put it into perspective, because i get to see it every day I suppose.”

Outside of her football, Taylor enjoys spending the majority of her time outdoors getting plenty of fresh air.

“I do woodwork as a subject at school, that’s something I really enjoy doing outside of school as well,” Taylor said. “That and I’m also into bike riding and skating so yeah, pretty much all the outdoorsy sort of things. “Next year I’m going to take a gap year and just work and sort out what I might want to do and I think sort of what’s on the plate at teh moment, is a teaching degree. maybe teaching sport or something along those lines, something I’m comfortable with.”

But the most immediate goal for Taylor is clear – get drafted onto an AFL Women’s list.

“I think for me footy was more of a social thing for a long thing and then once I started playing rep footy and started getting a bit better, I was like ‘oh this could be fun’,” Taylor said. “I might keep going, and once I got put in the National Academy I thought ‘alright I might as well give it a go’. “I’ve got the opportunity, I didn’t want to let it go.”

Walmsley grabs opportunity with both hands

IT was no surprise that Geelong Falcons’ Sophie Walmsley took to Australian Rules without much work, having already rowed, played local netball and school soccer.

“It started last year, I was playing netball with Newtown & Chilwell and I was in Year 12 and the girls that were playing footy on Sunday just said ‘come have a kick’ so that’s where it sort of started,” Walmsley said. “Then the season went and I just loved it and it was sort of my not-as-competitive sport because I was new to it. “Then just got a call from Jase (Jason Armistead, Geelong Falcons Girls coach) in October and then just came down to Falcons and it’s taken off from there.”

Walmsley is no stranger to switching codes, but why choose Australian Rules?

“Probably just the fact it was a new sport and something I hadn’t done before and there was lots of opportunities going around and Falcons is probably the top level I’ve been involved in a sport,” Walmsley said. “The community was really good and I just thought I’m going to take this opportunity and see where it goes to.”

Unlike many others in the TAC Cup Girls, Walmsley has not had the pressure of her final school year weighing down on her, instead focusing on her university studies and enjoying the freedom of football on the weekends.

“Yeah I’ve really loved Falcons,” Walmsley said. “It’s my first year at uni up at Melbourne, so it was sort of just new, footy was new, uni was new too. “It was just a good way to get involved and it’s been great and I’ve been lucky enough to play all the games.”

Walmsley was only nine days away from being a top-age player this season, and while Vic Country could only take one overage player to the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships (Rene Caris), the Falcons’ utility has enjoyed every opportunity thrown her way.

“I was really lucky in that there’s lots of girls who have been in Falcons for a while that are so experienced and play very mature and act very mature,” she said. “I guess I was just lucky I’ve been involved with sport for a while so I’ve been able to know how to step through it all, but just for every other girl that’s young, just have a crack. “Don’t let anyone else stop you, there’s so many other opportunities and pathways. “Girls footy is a prime example. “Who knew that there’d be an AFLW team now there’s VFL teams, there’s TAC Cup which is amazing. “We’re being included in so much. “It’s definitely good for me I’ve been able to get involved with it being older, but for everyone else there’s so many opportunities to take from it.”

Having joined the Western Bulldogs in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, Walmsley could hardly believe her luck.

“I’m so super excited about that,” she said post- TAC Cup Girls season. “I really didn’t know much about footy since it was my first year and then Katie (Geerings, Geelong Falcons Female Talent Manager) and Jase have really got me through TAC Cup and have talked to me about the possibilities and then now starting joining with the Bulldogs is just really exciting. Just happy to see where it takes me.”

A super athlete, Walmsley said her fitness has helped her adapt to the new sport, and having supportive teammates has been a bonus.

Mainly endurance has really helped me being consistent across the game,” she said. “Just being able to sit back and watch and get into it, has helped me understand that being in the sport my first year, it doesn’t always come first round, you don’t always have the best game but as we got more into the season I’ve been a lot happier with how I’ve been going. “It’s still new, you’ve just got to accept that and lots of the other girls have helped me realise just how to play it.”

Instead of trying to do too much, the Falcons coaching staff have kept it simple for Walmsley, something she has enjoyed while trying to develop the fundamentals and improve.

“(I’m) Just learning how to play the position and accepting that sometimes your role is just to play a position and not really so effective on every single ball you get,” Walmsley said. “So I’m just focusing on understanding at these levels that’s just how you go about your game, but (all the) coaches have been so helpful with that and helped me understand that it’s the best you can do and all you need to do to play your position.”

Walmsley is taking it one step at the time and as a sports addict she enjoys playing football in the winter and rowing in the summer. In her own words, “Sport is my main hobby.”

The run home: Geelong Falcons

REIGNING premiers Geelong Falcons have found themselves outside the eight this season, registering four wins from 14 games. Missing many of their top-agers due to Vic Country duties, the Falcons have been up-and-down at times, but when full-strength, have challenged the top sides. They have a strong midfield when it’s on song, and have been able to watch a number of bottom-age players develop through the season, while looming as a danger side for any team in the remainder of the season.

Wins: 4
Losses: 10
Draws: 0
Position: 10th
Points For: 771 (10th)
Points Against: 974 (7th)
Percentage: 79
Points: 16

Fixtures:

R15: vs. Dandenong Stingrays – MARS Stadium
R16: vs. Calder Cannons – MARS Stadium

National Combine Invitations: [5] Oscar Brownless, Connor Idun, Ned McHenry, Charlie Sprague, Sam Walsh

State Combine Invitations: [1] Brayden Ham

Rookie Me Combine Invitations: [1] Sam Conway

The Falcons face two tough teams in the final fortnight up against the Stingrays and Calder, but both could be wins, or both could be losses. It is hard to say with their stars back on the park, and when Sam Walsh is out there, anything can happen. The likes of Ned McHenry and Oscar Brownless form a strong midfield core, while Brayden Ham has been a revelation this season at both ends, and Charlie Sprague has been a huge loss up forward. Baxter Mensch keeps finding the football, while Connor Idun and Dane Hollenkamp have held down the defence with Cooper Cartledge. They could face any number of teams in the Wildcard Round from the Western Jets, Calder Cannons or Northern Knights, but one thing is for sure – they are one bottom four side no team will particularly want to play in the run to the finals.

Top Fives:

Disposals:

1 – Baxter Mensch – 309 (4th overall)
2 – Sam Walsh – 268
3 – Brayden Ham – 220
4 – Oscar Brownless – 206
5 – Doyle Madigan – 199

Marks:

1 – Brayden Ham – 71 (8th overall)
2 – Baxter Mensch – 52
2 – Blake Schlensog – 52
4 – Dane Hollenkamp – 43
5 – Sam Torpy – 41

Contested Possessions:

1 – Baxter Mensch – 154 (3rd overall)
2 – Ben Morton – 100
3 – Sam Walsh – 98
4 – Brayden Ham – 87
5 – Doyle Madigan – 87

Tackles:

1 – Ben Morton – 84 (5th)
2 – Doyle Madigan – 69
2 – Oscar Brownless – 69
4 – Baxter Mensch – 46
5 – Logan Taylor – 44

Hitouts:

1 – Sam Conway – 161 (10th overall)
2 – Blake Schlensog – 117
3 – Jack Grigsby – 95
4 – Dane Hollenkamp – 30
5 – Thomas Richardson – 29

Clearances:

1 – Baxter Mensch – 55 (8th overall)
2 – Ben Morton – 43
3 – Oscar Brownless – 40
4 – Sam Walsh – 30
5 – Doyle Madigan – 29
5 – Ed McHenry – 29

Inside 50s:

1 – Brayden Ham – 45 (eq. 17th overall)
1 – Sam Torpy – 45 (eq. 17th overall)
3 – Baxter Mensch – 41
4 – Sam Walsh – 35
5 – Oscar Brownless – 34

Rebounds:

1 – Charlie Harris – 40 (eq. 8th overall)
2 – Keidan Rayner – 30
3 – Cooper Cartledge – 28
4 – Dane Hollenkamp – 27
5 – Jesse Clark – 25

Goals:

1 – Brayden Ham – 19 (eq. 5th overall)
2 – Blake Schlensog – 10
3 – Sam Torpy – 8
4 – Connor Idun – 7
5 – Oscar Brownless – 6
5 – Baxter Mensch – 6
5 – Fletcher Wilson – 6

AFLW dream burning bright for DeGiacomi

A LATECOMER to the sport, Geelong Falcons’ key forward Sachi DeGiacomi has come a long way in a few years since taking up Aussie Rules, and now she cannot let it go.

“I started football in Year 9,” she said. “When one of my friends asked me to come play at a club and originally my parents said no, but then they finally let me play. “So I started for a bit of fun. “Then after about four weeks of playing, I got chosen to play interleague and then I’ve just taken  footy a bit more serious from then.”

DeGiacomi said she was not exactly sure how she made her way to the Falcons – no doubt found through her performances at a local level – but she is glad she did. DeGiacomi spoke of overcoming adversity and growing stronger as a group to propel themselves into the grand final, and take out the premiership on the back of an unbeaten year.

“I think that last year we faced a lot of hurdles together I guess you could say,” she said. “It definitely brought us closer as a team and it’s given us a lot of motivation to do well. “I’ve loved every minute of it, it’s been just a great experience. “Especially the girls. “They’re the best group of girls this year, and last year as well.”

The centre-half forward became a mainstay in the Falcons forward line, occasionally pushing up the ground, but became the main target inside 50. Her efforts throughout the year earned her the Leading Goalkicker Award, something she is proud to win.

“It was a pretty good feeling to win the leading goal kicker,” DeGiacomi said. “It was alright that I could help get score on the board for the team.”

But it was the other award she won – Amy Gorell #30 Award – that she cherished the most. The award was established this year after Amy Gorell, a Falcon last year was tragically killed in a car accident last year. It was to be awarded to a top-age player who demonstrates the behaviours that Gorell displayed as a player and leader of the Geelong Falcons: Commitment to the team’s success; relentless in their pursuit to getting the best out of themselves; lead by example on and off the field; positively add to the team’s culture; and constantly look for ways to improve as a player and leader.

“I’m so privileged to be able to be the first person to win that award,” DeGiacomi said. “To know that the coaches see the same characteristics in me as they saw in Amy as a player, makes me extremely humbled. “I also want to say thanks to the Gorell family for sharing the award with us, and have that, because it’s a really great way to honour Amy.”

DeGiacomi said through the tragedy, the group had grown stronger and formed a close bond throughout 2018.

“Yeah definitely (it made us closer), you could tell the way we played together this year,” she said. “We definitely played like we cared for each other and I guess that really came to show in all the wins, and us taking out the premiership as well. “The big situation brought us all together and made us appreciate each other.”

For DeGiacomi, she missed out on making Vic Country’s squad for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, but it has not slowed her desire to make the most of her football career at the highest possible level.

“Yeah I’d love to keep taking my footy further and hopefully play a few more games in the VFL, or hopefully look to play AFL in the next couple of years,” DeGiacomi said.

The Geelong Falcons forward has been pleased with her contested marking and goalkicking ability in 2018, focusing on building her confidence and improving her decision making this season. DeGiacomi said she felt her development has not only come on the field, but off the field as well thanks to the club’s development staff.

“Yeah heaps of development,” she said. “I think just even just as a person. I think Jason (Armistead, TAC Cup Girls coach) focused on building us as a person, not just as a footballer. “I guess that really helped just with every day life. “I thought I really developed as a footballer as well.”

The Year 12 student has also been carefully balancing her workload, able to focus on her studies now the football season is coming to a close.

“It’s been alright (the workload),” DeGiacomi said. “The Falcons was more towards the start of the year, so now that footy has backed off a little bit, I can focus more on school towards the end of the year, and exams and stuff like that.”

DeGiacomi said her passion in sport transcended her on-field exploits and she hoped to get into the sporting industry and give back to the sport that she loved.

“I’d love just anything in sport really,” she said. “I did gymnastics for 12 years outside of footy and played basketball and I’d probably like to be a physio at a footy club once I finish playing footy.”

It might have seemed like an impossible career when she was young, but now her sights are firmly set on making the AFL Women’s in the future.

“I’ve always been supporting footy with my dad and always thought it would be great to play,” DeGiacomi said. “But I never even really played at a local level so once I started doing that in Year 9, and then I started to take footy seriously. “I think it was maybe a few years ago when all the talk of the AFL Women’s league came about, I thought that it would actually be possible and then I really aspired to do it.”

Raw ruck talent learns to juggle workload

FINDING diamonds in the rough are what every recruiter and talent manager looks for, and if Geelong’s VFL Women’s and Geelong Falcons’ trial days are anything to go by, they are finding plenty of future footballers. For ruck Zoe Inei, it was about swapping the round ball for it’s oblong counterpart.

“I played soccer for six years and then I went to the VFL Cats Women’s Trial Day and then from that I just got into it for a bit of fun with one of my friends from school,” she said. From that (Trial Day), [Geelong Falcons Female Talent Manager] Katie (Geerings) came up to me and asked if I wanted to play and was talking to me a bit about the soccer. “Then I got an email asking if I wanted to play Falcons, so that was my first season and then I played local last season and now I’ve played my second season of Falcons.”

In 2018, Inei has been a key contributor to the Falcons’ outfit, providing a strong presence around the ruck contests, but also covering the ground with her athletic nature on show. Having had the extra season under her belt, Inei is feeling more comfortable playing at the level.

“It’s been really good.,” Inei said. “It’s very good because it’s longer, last season was five weeks and now it’s nine. “So it’s been really good just so we can have extra time with the other girls, and the coaching has been really good as well, the team’s really fun.”

A raw talent with plenty of improvement left, Inei said she knew there was plenty to work on, and she was striving towards becoming the best possible player she could be.

“I think (what I’m) looking to improve on is just a bit more skills and bit more speed and decision making with the skills,” she said. “Then I think a strength of mine is more encouraging my teammates and going hard at it.”

Her decision making and balancing is something she has had to get better at, as the workload between school and football increases and she learns how to deal with everything thrown her way.

“It’s alright because I have quite a few spares at school so I get most of my stuff done at school,” Inei said. “It’s good because I just come to footy and I just squish in whatever else around other times.”

Still unsure of what she wants to do as a career pathway, she knows where she wants to go with her football.

“Well so far, I just know after that (Vic Country representation) finishes I’ll be going to play local Under 18s comp and from there I’ll just see what happens,” she said.

Her dream is to play AFL Women’s like so many others, and she has been building a nice resume in the process as she looks to become as versatile as possible.

“So I have been playing ruck mostly,” she said. “But this season Jason (Armistead, Geelong Falcons Girls coach) has been putting me forward for a rest. “That’s been good, I’m happy to just go wherever they want.”

Now Inei will focus on finishing off the year and hopefully chasing that dream she has followed since she jumped codes.

Morrison’s remarkable rise from beginner to national MVP

FOR many that followed the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, it would be hard to believe that one of the overall tournament Most Valuable Players (MVPs) and indeed Vic Country’s MVP, had only taken up the sport a couple of years earlier. But for the equally quick and tough Nina Morrison, that is exactly what happened.

“The first time I played footy was about two years ago, there was a Talent ID day down at Deakin which dad said I should get down to and should give it a try,” she said. “I didn’t really know much about it or what it was going to involve but from there got asked to join the (Geelong) Falcons and it’s just escalated from there.”

Morrison has been one of the biggest improvers over the past two years, shooting from a virtual beginner, to one of the top players in the competition, showing off her trademark pace and physical presence around the ground for both Geelong and Vic Country. She said she has always enjoyed the physical aspects that football brings, as well as the team bonding which the sport allows when the group of girls run out together each week. Morrison has been developing her fundamentals and looking to become the most complete player she can, working on her non-dominant side, and her cleanliness at ground level.

When asked earlier in the year, Morrison was just looking forward to playing her role at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, it is fair to say she did that and more.

“It’s really exciting (getting selected for Vic Country),” she said pre-carnival. “I’m hoping to play some good footy at the Championships and then progress after that.”

Her form at the national carnival has certainly seen her progress in many people’s eyes and she has also thanked those at the Falcons and AFL Women’s Academy, who have really honed in on her abilities and worked on the areas she hopes to build.

“It’s been awesome,” she said. “Being exposed to that elite environment (AFL Women’s Academy). “The support networks you have through that and the mentor coaches and that are such as high calibre there, it’s really cool and really exciting.”

Morrison said the goal was to get drafted, but she also kept a level head when it came to her future, understanding how the system worked, and that there were always opportunities in the future.

“Yeah it would be really cool to get drafted at the end of the year if that was to happen,” she said. “But obviously there’s opportunities to be in the system still after that and get drafted in future years, but that would be the ultimate goal (this year).”

It has been a memorable year for Morrison, who prior to her success at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, celebrated a premiership with the Geelong Falcons. The Falcons went undefeated after dropping just the one game last year, and Morrison said the amount of talent at the club was testament to the quality of female footballers coming through the area, and the development within the walls at Geelong.

“It’s been a really good season this year,” Morrison said. “Compared to last season we’ve just improved even more and I think we’ve got a really solid core, so we don’t just rely on a few players, we have really solid depth which I think has allowed us to get where we are.”

Now it is a bit of a waiting game for Morrison leading up to this year’s AFL Women’s draft, but after a big season which brought many accolades and accomplishments both individually and as a team, it will just be a matter of continuing to develop in any way she can to be the best possible footballer.