Tag: Luka Lesosky-Hay

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.

AFL Women’s draftee watch – Round 1: Nine of the top 10 make their debuts

ROUND 1 of the 2021 AFL Women’s season was won and done across four enthralling days of action, with a number of fresh faces making their mark on the competition. We run you through how Generation W’s generation next fared over the weekend, focusing on the players under 20 years of age from the most recent draft crop.

Carlton vs. Collingwood

Collingwood picked up an upset victory over its most fierce rival on Thursday night in a tense season opener, with three members of the Magpies’ 2020 draft haul making their debuts in black and white. Father-daughter selection Tarni Brown got her first taste of senior footy, making a steady start to life in the big league with nine disposals and two tackles.

Amelia Velardo donned Collingwood’s famous number five on her debut, fittingly the same amount of football games she has played – ever. The Western Jets graduate featured among a strong Magpies forward-line, but could not quite find the goals. 19-year-old South Australian coup Bella Smith also made her first appearance, a steep rise having been picked up as an undrafted free agent.

Mimi Hill was one of four Carlton debutants on Thursday, but the only one out of her side’s most recent draft intake. The former Oakleigh Chargers captain is already one of Daniel Harford‘s favourites and was productive moving forward from the outer, gathering 12 disposals in a promising maiden appearance for the Blues.

St Kilda vs. Western Bulldogs

St Kilda unveiled all four of its 2020 draftees in a Friday night victory over the Western Bulldogs, headed by number six selection Tyanna Smith. The Dandenong Stingrays standout was terrific on debut, slotting seamlessly into the Saints’ midfield and providing plenty of drive going forward. Among her 16 disposals was her first AFL Women’s goal from a quick chance inside 50, putting the cherry on top of her game.

One of the great feel-good stories out of Round 1 was Alice Burke making her debut against the Dogs, who are coached by her famous father, Nathan. Alice’s Saints got the result, as she got a taste for senior football coming off the bench. Renee Saulitis was the other 18-year-old Saints draftee to feature and looked relatively comfortable on the ball for her seven disposals.

The Bulldogs had a couple of exciting new faces make their mark too, with youth a key feature of the developing squad. Number two pick Jess Fitzgerald found the ball eight times and was lively on the attack from midfield, even earning a shot on goal for her side. Sarah Hartwig‘s game was better than her five touches suggest, with the versatile defender impacting on the intercept and constantly looking to rebound via her long left boot.

Gold Coast vs. Melbourne

Gold Coast and Melbourne put out the most total draftees of any matchup in Round 1, with seven in the Under 20 bracket as the Dees made a winning start to the season. Gold Coast blooded its first round draftee in Annise Bradfield, along with three other 18-year-old recruits. Along with Bradfield, Maddison Levi and Daisy D’Arcy were kept under 10 disposals, while Lucy Single had it 13 times in the loss.

Melbourne also unveiled its first pick as Alyssa Bannan donned the red and the blue up forward, managing a shot on goal and two marks among her five disposals. Megan Fitzsimon also got a crack first up, and Eliza McNamara put her hand up for rising star honours with an impressive 18-disposal display on debut. The tough Sandringham Dragons graduate lived up to the hype attached to her in preseason and looks to have already cemented her spot in the hardened Demons side.

West Coast vs. Adelaide

West Coast promised to throw its top young draftees straight into the deep end and did exactly that as number three pick, Bella Lewis featured in the cut and thrust of midfield. While the Eagles went down comfortably to Adelaide in the end, Lewis was a bright spot in the engine room alongside second year star Mikayla Bowen, while high-flier Shanae Davison featured further afield.

Teah Charlton was Adelaide’s sole representative in this category, with the fourth picked player in last year’s draft notching eight disposals and laying seven tackles. Her dynamism and explosiveness up forward bodes well for plenty of highlights to come, though she was unable to find the big sticks on debut.

Geelong vs. North Melbourne

Top 10 pick Darcy Moloney faced a baptism of fire in her first outing for the Cats, as they went down by 62 points to the rampant North Melbourne Kangaroos. Moloney managed six touches as the lone debutant in the hoops, among a young side which was outdone for strength and size.

Bella Eddey had a debut to remember as she snared her maiden senior goal in North’s big win. The Sandringham Dragons product, dubbed ‘Silk’, also gathered six disposals. Alice O’Loughlin was the other North draftee to feature, cracking the team first up but finding just two touches as an abundance of established stars ran the show.

Richmond vs. Brisbane

All eyes were on Punt Road Oval as number one pick Ellie McKenzie made her AFLW debut for Richmond, but the result did not go her way as Brisbane’s mix of youth and experience came up trumps. The Northern Knights graduate featured on a wing for the improving Tigers, showing glimpses of her best to finish with 12 disposals and four marks. 19-year-old draftee Luka Lesosky-Hay also made her senior debut in the yellow and black, kept to just three touches. The Lions did not field any of their 2020 draftees.

Fremantle vs. GWS

Both Fremantle and GWS handed debuts to their 2020 first round draft picks as the Dockers shook off their brave opponents after half time at Fremantle Oval. Sarah Verrier gathered five disposals for the team in purple, showing plenty of skill and class across half-forward in her short spurts on the ball. Tarni Evans showcased her running power with some terrific efforts on the outer for GWS, with versatility also a key part of her upside. She finished with nine disposals and two clearances.

Image Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2021 AFLW Preview: Richmond Tigers

RICHMOND entered a baptism of fire in its maiden AFL Women’s campaign, but will be hoping for marked improvements in each department after a busy offseason. The Tigers were granted concessions and used them to trade in established players, while also laying claim to pick one in a highly talented draft. After a winless start, the only way is up for last year’s expansion side.

2020 RECAP

The Tigers will remain on the hunt for their first set of premiership points in 2021 after failing to register any last time around. Year one did not exactly go to plan for Richmond, at all, starting with a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Carlton to open the season. While they got within two goals of fellow expansion team, Gold Coast a week later, the newcomers were trounced by over six goals in three of their final four outings. A high-scoring encounter with Geelong in Round 4 yielded 45 points but the Tigers were otherwise impotent in attack, restricted to two goals or less on every other occasion – including a goalless return against St Kilda in the final home-and-away round.

NEW FACES

Importantly, Richmond was able to bring in some experience with means beyond the concessions afforded by the AFL at season’s end. Pick 15 was used to snare inaugural Blue Sarah Hosking, who slots straight into the leadership group. She promises to bring some competitiveness and a hard edge to the Tigers’ midfield, which is heavily dependant on one or two players.

Sarah D’Arcy and Sarah Dargan crossed from Collingwood, along with former-Dee Harriet Cordner in a three-way trade which again bolstered Richmond’s stocks. D’Arcy is likely to be somewhat reinvented as a defender in the yellow and black, while Cordner will rotate through the defence and ruck, and Dargan provides some spark moving forward with the potential to play midfield.

First pick, Ellie McKenzie headlined the Tigers’ draft haul and is another who should move straight into the starting side. A tall midfielder/forward with terrific speed, overhead marking and x-factor, McKenzie is a future star of the competition and was long touted as the best player in her draft class. Renowned basketballer Tessa Lavey was selected with pick 43 and Luka Lesosky-Hay got her chance after being overlooked in last year’s intake. Hannah McLaren, the daughter of former AFL umpire Scott, also gets her chance as a replacement for Holly Whitford.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

McKenzie would be a relatively easy choice in this category, as is our selection in Hosking. The former Blue is yet to miss an AFLW game and will be exactly the kind of player Tigers fans warm to immediately. She is a tenacious midfielder who runs hard and loves to get her hands dirty, setting a standard which Richmond largely lacked last year.

Should she be thrust into the centre bounce mix, Hosking will inevitably take a load off Monique Conti in the ball winning stakes and can also work to shut down the opposition’s best midfielder. Should she play on the outer or up forward, her defensive pressure will help lock the ball in Richmond’s attacking half, another area which lacked in 2020. The Tigers’ most high profile signing in the offseason will be looking to repay the faith in full, especially as part of her new side’s leadership group.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

After a lacklustre maiden campaign, it would be easy for other teams to overlook Richmond heading into 2021. The Tigers have added well to their squad and should be far more competitive as a result, potentially allowing them to fly under the radar and sneak up on some highly fancied teams who become complacent. The experience and class of Conti, Hosking, and a fully fit Katie Brennan in midfield will count for a lot of that competitiveness, while some much-needed spark up forward comes through McKenzie and the defence will be bolstered by Cordner. A handy spine is forming for Richmond and is something which could see the second-year side get some wins on the board.

QUESTION MARK

The Tigers were severely ineffective in the forward half last season and while a stronger group further afield will help their cause, the attacking movers have plenty to do to help Richmond kick winning scores. Bar a flash in the pan seven-goal game against Geelong, the Tigers failed to boot over two goals in 2020 and were too reliant on too few. That in itself is another factor which the Tigers will have to address, but more experienced heads will help ease pressure on their top-class talent.

FINAL WORD

Snaring a win will be the primary goal for Richmond in 2021 and from there, the sky should be the limit. It is likely the Tigers will be more competitive throughout games and the season as a whole this time around, with some solid talent added to the squad and greater depth beginning to emerge. Like any good Richmond side, fans will undoubtedly like to see some fight from this emerging team which is now better placed to produce exactly that.

Image Credit: Richmond FC

2020 AFLW Draft review: Richmond Tigers

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is over, we take a look at each club, who they picked and what they might offer to their team next year. We continue our countdown with Richmond, a side that struggled in its debut season, going winless and chose to bring in more experience to bolster its stocks in 2021.

Richmond:

#1 – Ellie McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#43 – Tessa Lavey (WNBL)
#52 – Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons/Richmond VFLW)

Boasting the top selection in the AFL Women’s Draft before a couple of later picks, Richmond had plenty of time to prepare for the draft. They ended up bringing in the standout choice of the 2020 season with Pick 1, before plucking a basketballer out of obscurity, and an over-ager talent who missed out on selection last year.

With Pick 1, there was not much doubt who the Tigers were going to select, picking up Northern Knights’ Ellie McKenzie. The second consecutive Northern Knights’ player at the selection after Gabby Newton last year. McKenzie is a readymade talent who will instantly step up and be one of the better players in the AFL Women’s competition. McKenzie has shades of Madison Prespakis in terms of her preparedness to tackle the league, but is taller and more athletic which makes her such a damaging prospect. She will play from Round 1 and be a crucial cog in the Tigers’ midfield or she can go forward and beat her opponents one-on-one there.

The second pick was completely out of the blue when the Tigers selected WNBL basketballer, Tessa Lavey. The Bendigo Spirit player will miss a portion of the preseason due to the Queensland hub for the WNBL 2020/21 season, but the condensed season has meant she will be fully available for the AFL Women’s one. A national representative, Lavey is raw potential and will be one to watch to see how she performs but no doubt will be fully utilised for her power and athleticism.

Finally the Tigers picked up Luka Lesosky-Hay, an overager who was a member of the premiership-winning Geelong Falcons outfit in 2018 and then again in the finals side last year. She was due to represent Richmond VFL Women’s this year after a stint with Geelong VFL Women’s, but the season was cut short. A hardworking midfielder who can win the ball on the inside then find space on the outside, she earns her chance after missing out last year.

Richmond had the most and least surprising picks of the draft with their first two selections, and have now brought in some athletes with power and strength to help try and turn the Tigers’ team around.

Lesosky-Hay blessed for the opportunities

BY her own admission, Luka Lesosky-Hay has felt very lucky. The balanced midfielder has followed the women’s football pathway at the right time, moving through the system as it continually grew, picking up a premiership with the Geelong Falcons, earning Vic Country representation, and playing Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) for the Geelong Cats. Now Lesosky-Hay hopes she has another chapter to add at the AFL Women’s Draft.

“I started playing when I was eight-years-old,” Lesosky-Hay said. “In my hometown in Aireys (Inlet) there was a team and I was friends with lots of the boys when I was younger, so I sort of just wanted to play. “I guess I’ve sort of kept going and was playing with the boys for a while and while I’d been playing the women’s footy kept developing and I was lucky enough to get picked up by Falcons really early on and stay with them for the last three years. “Then get to do Vic Country and then with the VFL and as I said, I feel like it’s just kept progressing as I’ve been playing so I’ve been really lucky to keep going through it all.”

Her NAB League Girls season where she averaged 19.5 disposals, 2.2 marks, 2.5 inside 50s and 5.0 tackles from 10 games saw the top-age player earn a Vic Country spot to travel up to the Gold Coast for the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships.

“It was massive because I really, really wanted it and I was super happy to get to go up to Queensland was pretty awesome,” Lesosky-Hay said. “It was also a big wake up as to how high the standard is. “I’d been playing in NAB League which is obviously a high standard but then taking it to the next level and seeing how many really, really good players there were was pretty awesome and eye-opening.”

Upon return, Lesosky-Hay also got a taste of senior football, running out for the Cats on three occasions, showing her defensive pressure with an averaged of 5.7 tackles per game to accompany her 8.7 disposals. She said it was very different to playing at Under 18s level.

“Bigger bodies, so it was also really nerve-wracking starting it all,” Lesosky-Hay said. “But they were super supportive and it was a different style of game I feel like, but also more exciting again because it’s taking it to another level where you take it against people who have been playing for even longer or who are bigger than you and so you had to really step up and I think that was really cool.”

Her season across the multiple competitions earned her enough interest from recruiters for a National Draft Combine invitation, something she said she was surprised with, not that being surprised was surprising anymore with the opportunities that were presented to her throughout her career.

“Pretty amazing,” Lesosky-Hay said of the combine invitation. “I mean I sort of with everything I keep getting really surprised and grateful for the new opportunities and this sort of stuff and I’m hoping to get the most out of this week as I can, and it’s also awesome seeing everyone from nationals again and it’s really cool.”

Lesosky-Hay has always been a dedicated worker and is determined to continue building her strengths, and improving the deficiencies in her game.

“I’m quite strong in one-on-ones contest as I play inside mid a lot,” she said. “My strength over the ball and clean hands when I’m picking it up and when I get my opportunity, my kick is generally pretty accurate and long. “I want to keep improving on my confidence and knowing how much time and space I have so I can take the game on a little bit more and also building on my repeat running and get as fit as I possibly can and keep going.”

Having had brief chats with various recruiters throughout her time, Lesosky-Hay admitted there were no guarantees when it came to the draft, and it prompted her to nominate all of Victoria for the upcoming AFL Women’s Draft, rather than just Geelong.

“They (recruiters) basically all have to say is that they can’t say anything for sure because it’s such a crazy thing on the day as well with people getting picked from everywhere, so you can’t really know at all,” Lesosky-Hay said. “I went for Vic because I personally want to come up to Melbourne as well and leave down from home as well so I thought I’d give myself the best opportunity as well to have a wider spectrum of clubs to be able to look at me. “So I went all of Victoria.”

It is not just an on-field decision to potentially move to Melbourne, but one for her future career.

“I’d love to do uni up there (in Melbourne),” Lesosky-Hay said. “Probably not straight away, but I want to study art and lots of really great art schools are in Melbourne, so if I do study it I will definitely be coming up to Melbourne.”

Lesosky-Hay said she had plenty of role models over the journey, and while many have those who have forged the path to the AFL Women’s competition, the Geelong midfielder said it was anyone involved in her journey.

“I guess it’s been hard because at the start when I was playing there wasn’t really women football players, so I guess I looked up to my teammates and now again with role models coming up,” she said. “I love the game style of people like Ellie Blackburn who I’ve watched the last few years. “But to be honest my role models have been the people around me as we’ve all been going through it and experiencing it as it comes.”

McEvoy all class and determination

THREE-time All Australian and Geelong Falcons captain, Lucy McEvoy is one of the highly touted prospects ahead of the draft and for good reason given her impressive skillset and footy brain. McEvoy has never been far from the Sherrin, playing Auskick from a young age and working her way into representative sides credit to her never say die attitude and grit across the footy field.

“I started in Auskick back with the boys when [I was] about five or six,” she said. “Then played junior footy with Collendina Cobras with the boys up until Under 14s then swapped over to the girls league after that. “Played one year at Barwon Heads then went to St Mary’s which is my local club at the moment and managed to make my way into representative sides somehow and kind of just went from there.”

The Falcons recognised her talent from an early age gifting her with the captaincy at 16 and she did not disappoint guiding her side to grand final glory and feeding off her teammates to develop her leadership qualities throughout her time at Geelong.

“It’s been a great experience working with girls that are older and also younger,” McEvoy said. “They’ve been really helpful in helping me build my leadership and really focus on that a lot more, especially this year and even just working with the other girls in the leadership group it’s been really good. “I think I’ve always been quite confident personality wise. “I think it depends who you meet sometimes. “Knowing that they’d voted for me as well gave me the confidence to know that they really did want me to be their captain and their leader. So tried to really embrace it and tried not to really think too much that I was younger than them. But yeah their support in that first season was really crucial for me.”

McEvoy has already had a highly decorated career, winning a premiership last year after going undefeated and will be looking to add to her trophy cabinet in the years to come.

“It was so good,” McEvoy said. “I thought we had a chance this year as well. “We had a really good bunch of girls and considering what we’d been through the year before with the loss of one of our teammates. “I think it made it even more special. “I’ll cherish that forever.”

With a premiership to her name McEvoy capped off her NAB League career as a three-time All Australian with each time more special than the previous.

“When I was younger I probably I took it for granted probably because I was a little immature and not as grown up and didn’t really realise the significance of it,” she said. “But as the second one I managed to get and this year, it’s quite something that I hold quite highly because a lot of the other girls don’t really get a chance to get that achievement. “So I’ve tried to really acknowledge my achievements but also not get ahead of myself and just keep on track and focus on one thing at a time.”

Often referred to as the Falcons’ footy factory, Geelong saw a wealth of talent get drafted last year leaving a gaping hole in the Falcons 2019 side. But that did not deter McEvoy with the captain standing up through the midfield to replace the likes of number one draft pick Nina Morrison along with Olivia Purcell and Denby Taylor.

“As pre-season went on we were able to create our own side and really adapt to each other’s games,” McEvoy said. “We lost some quality players in the midfield, but the girls that stepped up in Paige (Sheppard) and Luka (Lesosky-Hay) and some of the bottom-age girls was credit to them. “They really took it on board and played their role for the team this year.”

The talented footballer has a bright future ahead of her both on and off the football field with the 18-year-old hoping to get into university next year.

“I’m hoping to go into paramedicine,” McEvoy said. “I put Vic Uni as my number one preference. “Who knows whether I’ll get it or not, I’ve still got to finish exams and what not, hopefully I put my best foot forward in that and hopefully get the ATAR that I need.”

With an already solid set of skills, McEvoy is constantly looking to improve herself and develop her craft on the footy field noting her marking as one of strengths, but her short kick as a possible improvement.

“I need to definitely still improve my short kicking and accuracy in that area,” she said. “Then my fitness components which will be tested this week endurance, sprinting and agility, I’d really love to improve that side of my game.”

Throughout her time, she has been heavily influenced by her fellow teammates who have gone on to the next level with AFL clubs.

“Definitely the girls that were part of our side last year,” McEvoy said. “Nina Morrison, Liv Purcell and Denby (Taylor). “They’ve provided some of the great insight into what their experience was like and even in their first year of AFLW so I’ll continue to learn off them and admire what they do.”

2019 AFLW Draft Combine Results

WITH the AFL Women’s 2019 Draft looming ever closer, the AFLW Draft Combine is the final opportunity for young talent to prove their craft prior to the Draft on 22 October.

Victoria rated highly across all five tests, featuring in the top five in each and leading two, seeing Nicola Xenos coming in fast for the 20-metre sprint and Elisabeth Georgostathis exceeding in the agility test. Meanwhile, West Australian Roxy Roux and South Australian Hannah Munyard both placed in the top five for three of the five tests and Irish recruits Olivia Divilly and Vicki Wall proved they could match with the best of Australia’s young talent.

Below are the top five results for each test.

STANDING VERTICAL JUMP

Roxanne Roux (WA): 59cm
Molly Denahy-Maloney (VIC): 58cm
Marguerite Purcell (VIC): 53cm
Tahlia Hickie (QLD): 52cm
Hannah Munyard (SA): 51cm

20-METRE SPRINT

Nicola Xenos (VIC): 3.210 seconds
Olivia Divilly (Ireland): 3.258 seconds
Roxanne Roux (WA): 3.250 seconds
Vicki Wall (Ireland): 3.299 seconds
Hannah Munyard (SA): 3.307 seconds

AGILITY TEST

Elisabeth Georgostathis (VIC): 8.535 seconds
Isabel Dawes (QLD): 8.651 seconds
Roxanne Roux (WA): 8.654 seconds
Hannah Munyard (SA): 8.668 seconds
Tarni White (QLD): 8.696 seconds

YO-YO TEST

Olivia Divilly (Ireland): level 17.2
Georgia Garnett (NSW/ACT): level 16.8
Sophie Molan (VIC): level 16.4
Paige Sheppard (VIC): level 16.3
Gemma Lagioia (VIC): level 16.1
Luka Lesosky-Hay (VIC): level 16.1
Serene Watson (QLD): level 16.1

TWO-KILOMETRE TIME TRIAL

Hannah Hillman (QLD): 7min 41sec
Olivia Divillly (Ireland): 7min 48sec
Nicola Xenos (VIC): 7min 58sec
Gemma Lagioia (VIC): 8min 1sec
Ella Wood (VIC): 8min 9sec
Tahlia Hickie (QLD): 8min 9sec

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)

Barber’s four goals helps Vic Country to victory over Queensland

A four-goal performance from Murray Bushrangers’ key forward Olivia Barber, and an impressive game across the board from Country captain Lucy McEvoy has seen Vic Country knock off Queensland in a scrappy but strong start to Round 2 of the AFLW Under 18 Championships. Country came into their match against the hosts, Queensland in wet conditions, beating the home side by 42 points following a four goals to zero first half.

With conditions making it hard to take clean possession of the footy, Country prevailed credit to their ability to use the ball in the messy conditions. An early goal from Barber saw the side gain confidence before a clearing kick over the contest from McEvoy saw Barber soccer off the turf for her second not long after. McEvoy seemed to be everywhere around the contest, racking up 24 disposals, six tackles and four inside 50s, aided well by Luka Lesosky-Hay with 20 disposals, six clearances and five tackles. Meanwhile Queensland seemed to struggle early, unable to find their forward half as Country piled onto every ball.

The second quarter saw Queensland find some better space to drive inside 50 but were unable to have much of an impact on the scoreboard, not finding much connection to link their midfielders and forwards against the pressing defence of Country across the field. While the hosts stood their ground well defensively, Country were able to extend the lead courtesy of repeated intercept marks in their forward 50. Half time saw Country extend the lead to 27 points, with Renee Saulitis finding some good space to snap around the body early, while Barber got her third on the board moments before the siren.

Zimmorlei Farquharson was in among it for Queensland, putting a goal on the board in the third and pairing well with the likes of Daisy D’Arcy who opened up the ledger for the hosts after a flat first half. The third quarter saw Queensland take back some control, with both sides kicking two goals apiece as the intensity lifted. The hosts opened up some opportunities after half time, fighting their way into the contest with some strong bodywork and finding better space through the midfield to get forward. With better entries inside 50 it looked like they were drawing back some momentum but were ultimately unable to capitalise, seeing the hosts remain 30 points down with 15 minutes to go. Serene Watson (21 disposals, three marks, seven rebounds) and Lily Postlethwaite (18 disposals, four marks, three clearances) racked up the touches in a contest that saw Vic Country dominate at every turn.

Queensland put in the hard yards in the final term, producing some fantastic passages of play but missing the polish the Victorian side had. While the hosts were missing fight in the first half, they made up for it in droves late in the match. Despite trailing by 30 points with five mins left on the clock, they fought like they had a comeback on their hands and put Vic Country through their paces. But a dominant final term from McEvoy all but sealed the deal for Country, combining with Barber to put three goals on the board and cement a convincing 42 point win.

QUEENSLAND 0.0 | 0.1 | 2.1 | 3.1 (19)
VIC COUNTRY 2.1 | 4.4 | 6.7 | 9.7 (61)

GOALS

QLD: T. Smith, D. D’Arcy, Z. Farquharson.
VC: O. Barber 4, L. McEvoy 2, R. Saulitis, I. Simmonds, D. Moloney.

ADC BEST:

QLD: S. Watson, L. Postlethwaite, E. Hampson, E. Zanker-Close, K. Whap-Farrar, I. Dawes
VC: L. McEvoy, O. Barber, S. Molan, D. Moloney, T. Smith, L. Lesosky-Hay