Tag: kiana lynch

2021 NAB League Girls: 6 Memorable Moments – Round 3

THE NAB League Girls competition returned this weekend after momentary postponement, with the six games throwing up another mixed bag of results and plenty of memorable moments. In continuing our new weekly series, we take a look at the top moments from each match – whether they be game-defining feats, big marks, glorious goals, or otherwise. There was plenty of eye-catching action in Round 3, as the best Victorian girls clicked into gear once again with some impressive feats.

Calder Cannons vs. Oakleigh Chargers

James seals the deal

By: Michael Alvaro

There were many small individual highlights which could have made the cut from such a high quality game, but Eliza James‘ clutch goal to all-but seal Oakleigh’s win in the fourth term proved more memorable than any long-range effort, high mark, or bursting run on the day. Stationed deep forward after playing most of the game in midfield, James read the high ball best against her direct opponent in a pure one-on-one contest, before swooping on the loose ball as her marker fell and slamming the ball home into an open goal. Cue the celebrations as Oakleigh charged to victory against the wind.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Geelong Falcons

Garth arrives at the double

By: Peter Williams

The Geelong Falcons looked like they were on a mission from the first bounce, and top-age forward Zoe Garth turned dominance with possession into scoreboard control. The talented forward slotted home a set shot for her first major midway though the term, then a minute later snapped around her body for something out of nothing from long range to sit up and bounce home. In the blink of an eye, the Falcons were three goals to zero up and already well on their way to victory on the road.

Eastern Ranges vs. Gippsland Power

Pisano bursts onto the scene

By: Michael Alvaro

There has been plenty of talk recently about how the next generation of female talent is taking over, and that is true as far down as the Under 19 competition. In just her second outing for Eastern, 15-year-old Alyssia Pisano burst onto the scene in a devastating performance; amassing 14 disposals (12 kicks), three marks, two tackles, five inside 50s, and four goals in the Ranges’ 114-point triumph. She booted the first goal of the game, but came to life in term three with two majors in the opening 90 seconds, before adding her fourth later in the same stanza. The context of the game may have helped, but the goals do not kick themselves. Remember the name.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Western Jets

Ham soars and slams the Jets inside 50

By: Declan Reeve

Dynamic Western Jets forward Montana Ham is prone to a highlight or two per game, and registered another big play on Saturday. The 16-year-old soared to take a contested grab over Abbey Jordan in the Jets’ defensive half of the ground in the third quarter, but was not done there. She then backed herself to outrun the trailing Dandenong players, slapping away the arms of two would-be tacklers and getting the ball deep inside forward 50. It is that kind of explosiveness that has Ham marked as one of next year’s best draft prospects.

GWV Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers

By: Peter Williams

Rebels’ riotous first half

It was hard to pinpoint an exact moment in the match, but the GWV Rebels’ first half was something to behold. They took control early with some important goals, then raised the pressure up sky-high, forcing Murray to make mistakes out of the Bushrangers’ defensive 50. It created turnover goals, as the likes of Paige Scott (three) and Paige Kissel (two) benefitted. Tahlia Meier also created havoc inside 50 in the opening term with a couple of majors, and the whole team put together a memorable half before the Bushrangers could arrest some of the momentum and even out the game in the second half.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Northern Knights

Jordan shows poise beyond her years

By: Declan Reeve

In another fine example of the talent generation next holds, 15-year-old Northern prospect Ava Jordan was the latest to showcase top potential in what was only her second NAB League outing. In a tidy piece of play during the third term, she managed to get the ball just on the forward 50 arc and spotted Megan Girolami making a lead in the centre of the 50. After evading oncoming Dragon, Kiana Lynch, Jordan placed the ball right in front of Girolami so she could easily mark it on the chest. Again, jot the name down – she finished with 15 disposals and three inside 50s.

NAB League Girls Round 1 preview: Undefeated 2020 sides to face off in huge round of action

AT least one of the three undefeated sides from the 2020 NAB League Girls season will extend their winning run to 18 months or more, when the competition returns this weekend. Starting tomorrow, the NAB League Girls will have six games across four different venues – including one double-header – in a new footballing landscape for 2021. For Dandenong Stingrays, they will have to tack on an extra week to their extended break that saw the 2020 season come to an unfulfilled end last year, after they were handed the bye. For the 12 other teams, it will be a chance to start the season off on the right note. For the likes of Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, they look to continue what they started last year, having not lost since 2019, or in the Knights’ case, the 2018 grand final.

Eastern Ranges vs. Western Jets
Saturday, February 6 @ 12pm
Kilsyth Recreation Reserve

In what is officially the first NAB League Girls game in almost 12 months, Western Jets will cross the West Gate Bridge and head down to Kilsyth Recreation Reserve where the Eastern Ranges will be waiting for them. These teams last played way back in Round 4, 2019, when the Ranges easily accounted for the Jets by 43 points. A dominant second half where they booted 6.2 to 0.0 saw them run out 7.4 to 0.3 winners, with Olivia Meagher picking up 17 disposals, three tackles and three inside 50s.

Meagher has been named for the match tomorrow, with last year’s captain to play as a 19-year-old prospect in 2020. She is the only Ranges player from that match to remain on the list, whilst a trio of then 15-year-old talents in Caitlin Sargent, Trinity Skenderis and Jemima Woods – as well as now top-age and over-age talents respectively, Nikita Wright and Ciara Singleton – all remain on the Jets’ list having played in that match.

Looking at the teams, the match will be won and lost in the middle, with the Jets having some great height, whilst the Ranges have speed to burn. That is not to say the respective teams do not have the opposite as well, but they are damaging in their respective areas. For the home team, Jorja Livingstone was a player who really shone last year and is a clean ball user and able to work her way out of stoppages. She will team up with the likes of Meagher and Bridget Deed in the middle, roving Georgia Campbell‘s taps. Up forward, Matilda Hardy, Jade Hutchison and Isabella Khoury are ones to watch, whilst Saskia Nannes will be a potential big improver with more matches after having the season cut short last year.

For Western, their under-age group is brimming with talent, though now with extra experience, Sargent, Skenderis and Woods will be among those to watch. Montana Ham and Charlotte Baskaran present as two of the top 2022 prospects, with Ham’s versatility and size through the midfield hard to match, while Baskaran’s run and carry – as well as her elite use by foot – will provide a one-two punch that is always difficult to combat.

This is a game that could go right down to the wire, and difficult to predict with so many new players, but Eastern might have the upper hand at home.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers
Saturday, February 6 @ 12.15pm
JC Lowe Oval, Yarrawonga

From the east to the far north, Murray Bushrangers will host Bendigo Pioneers in a terrific spectacle for the country regions at Yarrawonga. Both these teams have a talented tall in the AFL Women’s Academy which makes things exciting. These two teams have also not played since March 30, 2019 when the Pioneers – during their most successful season to-date – toppled the Bushrangers by 14 points in Wangaratta.

That day it was Annabel Strahan (now Bulldogs) who had 20 touches, seven tackles, five inside 50s and a goal) and Brooke Hards (17 disposals, three marks, 11 tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds) who teamed up to cause havoc on the Bushrangers, while Millie Brown (now Geelong) racked up 27 disposals and six rebounds, and Abby Favell (22 disposals, five marks eight tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds) were the best for the losing side.

A then 15-year-old Ally Morphett had 11 disposals, two marks, 14 hitouts and two inside 50s, with the now AFL Women’s Academy member looming as the key player for the Bushrangers. Bendigo’s Academy member Tara Slender also played in that match, picking up seven disposals and having six hitouts, though the pair are unlikely to spend too much time one-on-one considering Slender will roll through a key position role and Morphett will be one of the dominant rucks in the competition.

Looking at the overall squads, Murray’s defence is strong given the likes of Mindy Quade and Kristy Whitehead provided plenty of run down there – though could be utilised further up the ground this season. Lily Sharp has been touted as one to watch by the Bushrangers’ coaching staff following a big off-season, and Keeley Skepper remains one of Vic Country’s top talents for 2022. Kate Adams returning as co-captain and providing experience and strength in the midfield will also be important.

For the Pioneers, Slender could be the top Vic Country prospect this year and will always be difficult to beat in the air, with the Pioneers’ captain not having to shoulder the ruck load given Madeline Marks‘ efforts in 2020. She will have her hands full against Morphett but it could be a fascinating battle, while Jayda Richardson, and now top-age talents Elizabeth Snell and Jemma Finning provide much needed experience to a really young Pioneers outfit.

Murray is excited about the depth of its squad in 2021, and while the Pioneers have some great young talents coming through, the extra experience for the Bushrangers – and what they started to show last year – should have them favourites at home in Yarrawonga.

Gippsland Power vs. Tasmania Devils
Saturday, February 6 @ 12.30pm
Highgate Recreation Reserve

In a battle between two teams that are building exciting programs, Gippsland Power “hosts” Tasmania Devils at Highgate Recreation Reserve. The furthest south east side travel up the highway to welcome the league’s newest team that only managed to taste one game in Victoria last year. The Devils had a rough introduction to the NAB League Girls competition – though the improvement from their brutal loss to Oakleigh Chargers to being competitive for the most part against Eastern Ranges has plenty of people buoyant about what they could produce in 2021.

These teams have never played before, and both have younger lists, sprinkled with some top-age and over-age experience. Key position players Camilla Taylor and Shanara Notman are the 20-year-old allowances in those sides, and have the size to cause a matchup dilemma for their respective opponents. Tasmania Devils have the sole AFL Women’s Academy member in this match, with the speedy Perri King looking to breakdown the Power’s zones and create some important run and carry for her side.

Aside from King, Amy Prokopiec remains a player to watch, having predominantly played as a last-line defender in previous seasons for the Devils, but became a reliable goalscoring threat in the TSL Women’s for Clarence. Other players who stood out 12 months ago include Jemma Blair, Aprille Crooks, Chelsea Thomas, Zoe Bourne and Meghan Gaffney. Having received an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite without managing to get on the park in the NAB League Girls, Charlie Vandenberg will get a great opportunity in the ruck and rotating forward with Taylor against one of Vic Country’s top ruck prospects.

Grace Matser is going to be difficult to stop, with the ruck battle set to be a duel within the match not to be missed. As the only Power player above 180cm, she will look to control the airways. The Gippsland midfield has some nice depth to it, with Grace McRae returning to the fold after being unlucky to miss out on the draft in 2020, and will get a good chance to play consecutive games this season. Matilda Van Berkel is another one with experience and able to play a number of roles, while Holly Booth and Sunday Brisbane are among those tipped to cause problems for the opposition. One name to remember for next year is Lily-Rose Williamson who has come through the V/Line Cup program and been one ready to step up at the level.

This game is as 50/50 as they come, so as is often the case in 50/50 games, we will lean towards the “home” team in Gippsland Power, though Tasmania Devils will be keen to sniff out their first win in the competition.

Geelong Falcons vs. GWV Rebels
Sunday, February 7 @ 11am
Deakin University – Geelong

The final country game of the round occurs down in Geelong at Deakin University when the Falcons host the GWV Rebels. Much like the earlier two Saturday games, these two teams last played back in Round 4, 2019, when the Falcons – on their way to another finals series and coming off a premiership in 2018 – defeated the young Rebels by 36 points at City Oval in Ballarat. Luka Lesosky-Hay (31 disposals), Darcy Moloney (23) and Lucy McEvoy (22) all suffered leather poisoning and showed why they were capable of playing at the top level, whilst Nekaela Butler picked up 21 disposals and had six rebounds bravely defending for the home team.

There are a sprinkling of players from that day that remain on the lists in 2021, such as AFL Women’s Academy member Ella Friend, and Chloe Leonard and Crystal Summers (GWV Rebels), and Zoe Garth, Renee Tierney, Poppy Schapp and Elizabeth Dowling (Geelong). Those players will provide great experience for their respective sides in that clash, in what is sure to feature some of the best talent in the NAB League Girls competition.

The Falcons might not have an Academy member, but have plenty of developing young players, with Dowling a presence in the back half but can play anywhere, Annie Lee beside her in defence, Keeley Hardingham controlling the ruck, and Mia Van Dyke a bottom-age prospect who will be one to watch for next year able to roll through the midfield. Geelong has always been a team flushed with depth, and 2021 appears to be the same, with no shortage of talent across all three lines.

Alongside Friend – who will be that taller marking target at half-forward – Nyakoat Dojiok is the other AFL Women’s Academy member on the Rebels’ list. The running defender could start off half-back or roam along a wing depending on the team’s needs, able to add that mix of power and acceleration to breakaway from would-be tacklers. Leonard returns to the club as a new top-ager and one who will settle down the defence, while Stephanie Glover, Lilli Condon and Summers are some of the names to watch in the match.

Geelong have had such success over the past few years, it is hard to look past them at home. The Rebels will provide a great contest, but we will find out where both these teams are at following the Round 1 encounter.

Calder Cannons vs. Sandringham Dragons
Sunday, February 7 @ 11am
Highgate Recreation Reserve

In the first double-header of the year, a star-studded Calder Cannons outfit hosts an ever-growing talent base in the Sandringham Dragons. The last time these two met was in 2019 back in Round 3, as the Cannons went on to make the grand final that year. They only scored two behinds in the first half and trailed by five points at the main break, before booting the last four goals of the game to win 4.8 (32) to 1.3 (9) over the Dragons at Trevor Barker Oval.

Alice Burke (St Kilda) and Sarah Hartwig (Bulldogs) were among the top players for the Dragons, whilst it was Georgia Patrikios (St Kilda) and Krstel Petrevski (Melbourne) who shone from those who have been drafted. Best on ground that day was Georgie Prespakis who lit it up with 23 disposals, three marks, eight tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds. The now-Cannons captain will look to have an equally big impact this year, while Emelia Yassir, Kasey Lennox, Alisa Magri, Zali Friswell and Neve Crowley are just a handful of the talented names who also played as 15/16-year-old talents on that day.

The Cannons have proven to have such great development over the past few years, and all the above names along with Mali McLeod, Peppa Poultney and Jessica Zakkour makes them a rock solid team across the board. Though their opponents are no slouches either. Back in the 2019 clash, now-captain Kiana Lynch, as well as the likes of Charli Murphy, Summer Trim, Emma Stuber, Isabella Stutt, Ebony Angelopoulos and Chloe Saultry all took to the field, so the Dragons have a core of players with plenty of experience under their belt.

Murphy will provide that marking target up forward, while Lynch will lead a host of bottom-agers with future potential. Bridie Hipwell and Sofia Hurley are just a couple of names who still have another year to go after this one, but are becoming key players in the Dragons outfit going forward. They made great strides last season and play what would be considered the benchmark team in the competition first-up here.

Calder Cannons deserve to be favourites for the overall title, so it is hard to tip against them in any game. The Dragons will be up and about and likely to be among the contenders this season too, so buckle up for an exciting contest.

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers
Sunday, February 7 @ 12.45pm
Highgate Recreation Reserve

Wrapping up the weekend might just be the tightest of the lot, with both Northern Knights and Oakleigh Chargers going undefeated last year, and technically the Knights are still the reigning premiers from 2019. Both these sides had a host of players drafted in 2020, with the Knights having the first three Victorian players taken in the draft. These two sides played back in Round 2, 2019, when they played out a thrilling draw in what would be the only match where the Knights did not collect the full points that season.

Future AFL Women’s talents, Ellie McKenzie, Britney Gutknecht, Gabby Newton and Alyssa Bannan were the best for the Knights, while Mimi Hill, Joanna Lin, Alana Porter and Emily Harley all shone for the Chargers. Also playing that day was now AFL Women’s Academy member, Maykaylah Appleby who leads the Knights charge in 2021, with Teleah Smart, Mikayla Plunkett, Jessica Simpson and Tallia Pulcino among the current-listed Northern players running around that day.

Appleby is the one to watch this season, but the Knights have brought back a host of top-age players such as Plunkett, Pulcino, Maeve Chaplin, Trinity Mills and Gulia Ceravolo, so have plenty of experience to guide the next crop of Knights talents. Some names to watch this year aside from the above group with a point to prove are the likes of defender Tarrah Delgado and ruck Georgia Kitchell who showed some promising signs in the short 2020 season.

The Chargers had the likes of Taylah Morton, Kalarni Kearns, Charlie Rowbottom, Eliza James and Emma Chamberlain running around in the draw with the Knights, and have been growing some phenomenal depth of late. Rowbottom is the AFL Women’s Academy talent and if she crosses paths with Appleby, it will provide plenty of highlights. Add in the likes of top-ager Amanda Ling, middle-ager Stella Reid, and bottom-ager Rianna Thiele, and the Chargers have built an exciting list.

Another 50/50 split game that could go either way. It is hard to look past the Knights’ success rate, but what the Chargers were starting to do last year, the depth is among the best going around so Oakleigh could become the first team to knock off Northern in almost three years.

Dragons starting to fire ahead of NAB League Girls season

THE SANDRINGHAM Dragons are gaining confidence out on the track as their preseason hots up, less than a week out from the beginning of season proper. New talent pathways coach Jackson Kornberg is now overseeing both the boys and girls program having been a long-time assistant, and says his troops are in a “good position” in terms of fitness, skill, and cohesion ahead of Round 1.

“We’ve had our two intraclub games and we’ve settled on a final list,” Kornberg said. “I think off the back of our intraclub last (Wednesday) night, it gives me great confidence that the girls are in a good position fitness-wise. “I think that’ll come throughout the year, you get fitter every time you play and every NAB League club’s been in the same boat.

“I’ve been quite impressed from a skill point of view and from a team cohesion point of view as well. “I think it comes back to what the (coaching) team did last year in getting the group together and buying into Dragons footy.

“The great thing with this group is that we brought back essentially the list that we had last year and we and we brought in a couple of girls from outside who we identified through a relationship with local clubs and schools as well… (former coach) Tam Hyett and the coaching staff did a tremendous job with the girls last year from a coaching and development point of view.”

A gradual build-up during preseason sees the Dragons now ready to face true opposition for the first time in almost a year. While a short schedule ahead of the 2021 season meant no practice matches were played, match simulation and intraclub hitouts eventually took over from pure craft development.

Kornberg says there is still more learning to do throughout the year, but players and staff alike are just looking forward to getting back into competitive games.

“Pre-Christmas we primarily did a lot more individual base-craft stuff and a lot more skill development work,” he said. “As a new coaching staff we had to get to know the girls and know where they’re at. “I think it’s important as a NAB League (club) anyway to push that development, which we do a heap of.

“We’ve ramped into intraclubs over the last two training sessions and then into some match-sim next week, but we’ve gradually built it up so that throughout the season, we can just drip feed and add things as opposed to loading them all up before Round 1 and hoping for the best. “I think it’s really important with such a small amount of time to prioritize and then add value-add throughout the year.”

“We’re all just looking forward to getting a game in, the girls got the three games in (last year) but it’s still been nearly 12 months since they played a competitive game. “The coaches mentioned after training other day, when we have a look at the team we’re just really excited to see how we go because I think it’s an unknown at this point.”

An even spread across the age groups is a facet of Sandringham’s squad that has Kornberg pleased about the potential for progress in years to come. The incoming senior coach was also glowing in his detailing of the girls’ willingness to learn and implement what they are being coached at training. With the strength of the squad lying in its skill and ability to transition the ball, Kornberg says his troops have been playing to those assets thus far.

“For me (our strengths) fall back on the skill component,” he said. “We’re not going to be overly tall side, which I don’t mind – if you’re a well skilled team and you can run the ball, I don’t think it really matters when you’ve got a versatility across all lines.

“When we translate to games, our ability to move the ball from back 50 to forward 50… from that we’ll hopefully see a lot more ball on the outside to try and use that use that skill, use that speed, use that endurance a lot of our girls have, and then their foot skills to the move the ball.”

“I think the beauty about us is that we’ve got a real split across the ages. “We’re not heavily concentrated in one certain area, whether it be age 19, 18, or 17.  “We’ve currently got three 19-year-olds on our list and then we’ve got that core group of 18 and 17-year-olds which will be fantastic moving into 2021, but then also into 2022.”

A few standouts have already emerged too, with 2020 form and preseason shape ultimately the two factors to go off. Kornberg ran through a core of names who will put their hands up for draft contention this year and in 2022.

Kiana Lynch, her training throughout the preseason has been really solid as that draft age player,” he said. “It’s likely we’ll see her sort of playing those running midfield/winger sort of positions throughout the year. “She’s got a lovely kick, her running is really solid and I think she’ll really impact in that front half.”

Charlotte Ryan is someone who’s really sort of jumped out this year. “Going into the intraclubs we liked her speed and she’s able to get the ball and take ground. “She she really challenges the tackler and challenges the defence to chase her.”

“Another one who has really excited us in the intraclubs as well is Pia Staltari. “She’s played a number of different positions, but I think her role we’ve settled on is that that high half-back. “She reads the ball well and is probably one of the better sort of anticipators in our team, she’s got a really long nice penetrating kick as well.

“As far as from a from a draft age position they’re they the girls I’ve been really impressed with over preseason. A number of other girls I suppose as well are going to jump out throughout the year, but from the preseason we’re really happy with them.

“Then from a 17-year-old point of view, we’ve got some we’ve got some girls who have really been exciting through our preseason too. “Bridie Hipwell is one who, from a training point of view, her professionalism is terrific. We’re lucky enough to have Bridie in our girls program and then Darby, her older brother who’s in the boys program as well… but mostly playing through the midfield, she’s got a lovely kick, her speed and agility really are strong too.

Sophia Hurley will be another one as well as a 17-year-old. Her pace and her ability to keep the ball as one of the better kicks in our team is impressive. She has that ability to brake lines and really move, she’s probably one of pur better runners as well.”

The Dragons are set to take on Calder Cannons at Highgate Recreation Reserve on Sunday February 7, making for a tough opening fixture. The nine-round NAB League Girls season is set to bounce down a day earlier, with three of the six first-round fixtures taking place from 12pm, onwards.