Tag: mikayla hyde

2021 AFLW Under 18s Ones to Watch

NOW the curtain has closed on the 2020 AFL Women’s off-season period, we turn our attention to the next group of budding stars across the country who will be vying for a spot on an AFL Women’s list. We have named 25 players who have already shown some great signs in their bottom and middle-age seasons, as well as a number of others to watch out for in 2021.

Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A name that has been circulating for a number of years now, it is hard to believe the all-round talent was robbed of what she could potentially do in her middle-age year. She looked more than comfortable at the level in her bottom-age year as a 16-year-old and caught plenty of attention with a seven-goal haul against Greater Western Victoria Rebels. Taller than her sister – AFL Women’s league best and fairest winner Madison – Prespakis is hard at it, has great athleticism and is ridiculously strong one-on-one. A highlight-reel package nearly any time she steps out on the field, Prespakis is a future star and could play just about anywhere, but expect her to play inside midfield and rest forward.

Teagan Levi (Bond University/Queensland)

The sister of recently drafted Gold Coast Suns’ talent Maddison, Levi is 11cm shorter and plays onball rather than forward. Her athletic traits are similar to that of Georgia Patrikios in the way that she can seamlessly get herself out of trouble by wrong-footing and side-stepping opponents with ease. Not only is she able to beat them in congestion, she can run and take the game on down a wing, and then when the opponent wins it, she is the first to lay a strong tackle. Similar to Prespakis, Levi has so many weapons and is as effective defensively as she is offensively, and is the standout Queensland prospect for next year and in the clear top few talents running around.

Courtney Rowley. Picture credit: Owen Davies / Peel Thunder

Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

A player who has been building very nicely over in Western Australia over the past two seasons and then was the most impressive of the middle-agers in the WAFL All-Stars game. A really smooth mover, Rowley often plays off a wing and knows how to distribute the ball so well, winning Peel Thunder’s League best and fairest last year as a 16-year-old competing against senior opponents including AFL Women’s talents. Whilst she had more support in 2020 as the Thunder rose from wooden spooners to premiers in a remarkable turnaround, it is hard not to admire what the talented midfielder could be in her top-age season next year.

Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)

The standout ruck prospect in next year’s draft, Adelaide will have another promising talent on their radar in Prowse. Winning Sturt’s best and fairest award this year, Prowse was just about the best in nearly every game she played for the Double Blues, particularly in the second half of the season. Despite standing at just under 180cm, Prowse has ridiculous athleticism with a high vertical leap and is almost like a fourth midfielder. She can get down and apply second and third efforts to ground level players, and is one who could also play forward if required. With great ruck nous, she can outwork her opponents around the ground, and it was easy to see why she was the sole South Australian AFL Women’s Academy member in her middle-age year.

Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

An absolute star in the making. Capable of playing midfield or forward, Rowbottom just knows how to set scoring opportunities up in transition. The sister of Sydney’s James, Rowbottom has similar ball-winning abilities and defensive attributes, but has a lot to offer offensively as well. She showed in the Chargers’ win over Tasmania that she is not only able to hit the scoreboard herself – kicking two goals – but set up a number of chances for her teammates. One that will really surprise in 2021 as a leader for the Chargers.

Charlie Rowbottom. Picture credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

With quite a few tall defenders in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft, Slender would be putting her hand up as potentially the pick of the bunch. Her intercepting capability and reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and while she did miss her middle-age year, Slender is one who could catch the attention pretty quickly. Having played alongside some Vic Country representatives in the past – and playing at Under 16s level for her state – Slender is good in one-on-ones and looms as a key lynchpin for the Pioneers. It would also not be too surprising to see her take a similar transition to Isabelle Pritchard and move into the midfield given she has the traits to slot right in there.

Makaylah Appleby (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

Class personified. Appleby has managed to catch the eye on more than a few occasions over the past few seasons despite playing in such a stacked team at the Northern Knights. She often played off a wing or provided run on the outside like during the 2019 NAB League Finals Series. Appleby is now the top prospect at the Knights for the upcoming season as a member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, and as a damaging ball user, Appleby is one that teammates want to get the ball in the hands of in order to create scoring opportunities up the field.

Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco/Western Australia)

A dangerous forward half player with clean skills and a nous for goals, Thomas is the other AFL Women’s Academy member from Western Australia in her middle-age year along with Rowley and has a big future. Playing in an experienced team like Subiaco, Thomas was able to still stand out, regularly hitting the scoreboard. Standing at 175cm, Thomas has good size and good hands and having made her League debut in 2020, big things are predicted for 2021 with a lot of AFL Women’s talent, and more experienced heads around her.

Nyakoat Dojiok. Picture credit: Draft Central

Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

A player who is not afraid to take the game on and really take it to the opposition is GWV Rebels’ Dojiok who has been developing year-on-year over the last few years. Playing as a 15-year-old a few years back, Dojiok is one who when she gets going is hard to contain, and she has that rich blend of power and speed. She is utilised best as that outside runner, playing off half-back or along a wing, but is eye-catching in the way she plays and the way she can bring teammates into the game. Entering her top-age year, expect her to see even more midfield time as she has some seriously great traits.

Elizabeth Dowling (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

A player who might be flying under the radar that has some casual NAB League Girls watchers reaching for the team lists next year is Dowling. An incredible talent who showed progression in her two games this year, she has only managed to fly under the radar due to the enormous amount of talent coming out of the Falcons’ football factory. She played in defence as a bottom-ager then got time more up the field last year, and expect her to play through the midfield in 2021. She can play anywhere, at that hybrid 171cm-plus size and can be too athletic for talls and too strong for smalls, Dowling is one who should not be forgotten when talking about Vic Country prospects.

Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

The standout NSW/ACT prospect for 2021, Morphett is the sole AFL Women’s Academy member from her state. The developing 189cm-plus ruck is one who improved from her bottom-age season and it would have been fantastic to see her going up against the Melbourne-drafted Maggie Caris if their teams had met in the NAB League Girls before the season ended. She is commanding overhead and able to drift forward if required, Morphett is one of the few NAB League Girls prospects to play this year. Representing Belconnen Magpies in the AFL Canberra League, Morphett finished second in the league best and fairest, and then won best on ground in the Magpies’ premiership win. Not bad for a 17-year-old and she is one anticipated to take a huge step in 2021.

Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore/Queensland)

Stood tall at senior level in the QAFL Women’s competition for the Roos and is one of a remarkable three players in the AFL Women’s Academy from the side. Harmer showed in the Queensland All-Stars game that she looms as a strong prospect in 2021 with her overhead marking, read of the play and powerful kicking standing out in a tight game. A member of the Brisbane Lions Academy, Harmer is 170cm and could play at half-back as that intercepting rebounder, or through the middle, seemingly able to break down opposition defences on transition by getting in the way and then pumping it long.

Maggie Harmer. Picture credit: Deion Menzies, Highflyer Images

Amy Franklin (Claremont/Western Australia)

If we are talking upside, then Franklin, not too dissimilar to her West Australian namesake, has plenty of that for the future. A tall marking forward, Franklin has speed that makes smaller opponents envious, and standing at 180cm, she is big enough to outmark most opponents. Still quite raw and lightly built compared to more experienced WAFL Women’s defenders she came across, Franklin is one that once the ball gets goalside, you can almost put the glasses down. Terrific athleticism and one who is threatening to be an even bigger threat in 2021, she is yet another exciting tall forward to come out of Western Australia.

Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

If you are talking upside and potential in next year’s AFL Women’s Draft crop then take 186cm Gillard as an example. Only turning 17 in December this year, the key position utility can play in all three lines, starting off as a key defender, spending time up forward and has the size if required to play ruck. For a player of her size, Gillard is so good at ground level and able to create something out of nothing. While she is still a raw and developing talent, she is another from the Cannons’ program who has already had plenty of NAB League Girls experience that will only make her better.

Ella Friend (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

A second GWV Rebels player making the list, Friend did not get many chances this season to show what she is capable of, but what she did in that short space of time was quite remarkable. Another member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, Friend looked comfortable in the tight contest against the Western Jets back in Round 3, racking up a ton of the ball – 19 touches – and having a real influence in the forward half. Not only that, but she iced the game for the Rebels with a match-winning goal, and provided as much offence (six inside 50s) and defence (five tackles) to suggest she is a gamechanger and one to look out for next season.

Jorja Livingstone (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

Made her debut in the NAB League Girls competition and just has that X-factor about her that makes you sit up and take notice. Elite acceleration out of the stoppage and some really top-end traits, Livingstone came into the Ranges’ midfield and assimilated easily that it was hard to believe she was not a top-ager. Behind the experienced Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown, Livingstone was the next biggest performer onball, and with another preseason behind her, it will be exciting to see just what she can produce with her athletic traits and ability to get forward and look dangerous.

Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Yassir is just a fierce competitor who can play through the midfield or as a small forward. Standing at just 161cm, Yassir defies her size and is not afraid to take on bigger opponents, laying multiple tackles and is a contested ball winner. She stood up during Calder’s NAB League Girls finals series as a bottom-ager in 2019, and started strongly in 2020. She will have a bigger role in 2021 and has a bucketload of talent that will have opposition players wary of when she is in the zone.

Mikayla Pauga (Maroochydore/Queensland)

Another small forward and member of the AFL Women’s Academy, Pauga might just stand at 161cm like Yassir, but packs plenty of punch as a damaging forward. The second Maroochydore player in this list, Pauga finished second in her club’s goalkicking with 13 majors in 14 games, and was a clear standout. With an eye for goal and a large endurance base that sees her outwork opponents, Pauga is one who could step up again in 2021 and will be one to watch at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships having shown her wares at senior level in the QAFL Women’s already.

Zoe Venning. Picture credit: SANFL

Zoe Venning (West Adelaide/South Australia)

A hard-nosed midfielder/forward from West Adelaide, Venning came on in leaps and bounds throughout her second season in the red and black. She became a crucial member of the Bloods’ midfield, playing between wing and forward, though her attack on the ball shows she can easily translate into an inside midfielder. Providing great assistance to equal league best and fairest winner, Rachelle Martin as well as young talent Abbie Ballard, Venning is one who is dangerous around goals. She is still developing some areas of her game such as her kicking, but her work rate and intensity in play is superb.

Kasey Lennox (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A reliable key defender for the Cannons, Lennox is a fourth member of the Calder side to make this list, and shows just how strong their top-age group will be next season. Lennox is one who is good at ground level for a taller player, being one of the most dominant rebounders in the competition to start the 2020 NAB League Girls season. As a player who stood out on the big stage of the 2019 NAB League Girls Grand Final, Lennox is not afraid of big moments, and will team up well with Gillard as a couple of talls in a really strong Cannons outfit.

Amy Prokopiec (Clarence/Tasmania)

The sole Tasmanian prospect in the AFL Women’s National Academy, Prokopiec became one of the standout defenders for Tasmania Devils, albeit in just a handful of games in her bottom and middle-age years. As she showed with Clarence in the TSL Women’s competition this year and in the Tasmanian All-Stars game, Prokopiec is capable of playing at either end, and becoming that versatile tall utility. As a long kick and strong overhead, she is a crucial cog in the both the Roos and Devils sides, and will be hoping for a full season next year to test herself against the best in the NAB League Girls.

Amy Prokopiec (right). Picture credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

There are quite a few talls in this list with potential, and Schirmer is another one who just has that look about her that she could be in for a big 2021. In her middle-age season with reigning premiers South Adelaide, she acquitted herself well and while she did have some really outstanding performances, even when she was quieter, there was always a moment or two within games where you could see she was capable of kicking a couple of goals and winning the match for her side. Not far off 180cm, Schirmer can push up to a wing or even in defence, but she always looks damaging inside 50 and a real target for her teammates to kick to.

Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

A good size and capable of hitting the scoreboard, the 176cm James is a damaging prospect. She showed in her two games this year how she has developed both her offensive and defensive traits, and even as an Under 16s player for the Chargers, stood up in nine games and booted five goals. As one of a number of Chargers who were able to provide support to the top-end talent this year, James is another leader in the group to standout in her own top-age year in 2021.

Alana Lishmund (Norwood/South Australia)

Was a prominent member of the Norwood side in her debut SANFL Women’s season, then really stepped up as one of the best in the All-Stars match last month. She is predominantly a forward talent who can push up the ground into the midfield, and then play high or deep forward when required. A reliable kick for goal, she has that X-factor about her inside 50 and can be a leading or crumbing target, playing taller than her 166cm size, and one who will be another South Australian jostling for a spot as one of the more prominent talents in the state.

Alana Lishmund. Picture credit: AFL Media

Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

A multi-sport talent for the Stingrays, Anthony also has that something special about her game playing as a forward. She can play at either end, and has progressed through the pathway from V/Line Cup to the NAB League Girls. One who has shared her football journey with cricket duties – she has only managed the five games for the Stingrays – she knows how to hit the scoreboard and provide a presence. Despite standing at just 166cm, Anthony plays like a taller forward and finds space, and will be a top talent to watch out for from the Stingrays in 2021.

Others:

Maroochydore’s Bella Smith is another member of the AFL Women’s National Academy who stood up for Maroochydore this season in the QAFL Women’s, whilst Georgia Hutton and Caitlin Thorne are a couple of Gold Coast Academy members who showed some top-end traits during the All-Stars match.

The South Australian group has been sensational with plenty having senior experience, led by South Adelaide’s Lauren Clifton who stood out in the All-Stars match up forward. Central District’s Madison Lane, North Adelaide’s Kate Case, Glenelg’s Brooke Tonon and Woodville-West Torrens’ Jamie Parish are others who have been ones to watch at SANFL Women’s level this season.

Over in the west, Chloe Reilly remains a dangerous forward option for East Fremantle with her work at ground level and around goals, whilst Swan Districts’ Emma Nanut, and South Fremantle trio, Tayla Whincup, Taylah Cruttenden and Poppy Stockwell are also great talents.

Looking to the NAB League and there are plenty of names to throw up, but a few in the mix include Mikayla Jones (Murray Bushrangers), Jemma Radford (Dandenong Stingrays) and Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons) who have shown to be natural players in their respective areas. From the Vic Metro perspective, Peppa Poultney (Calder Cannons), Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers), Caitlin Sargent (Western Jets) and Tarrah Delgado (Northern Knights) were terrific this year, while a host of middle-age Sandringham Dragons got their starts and will no doubt produce a number of surprise packets alongside their elite bottom-age talents.

Perri King is another Tasmanian prospect behind Prokopiec to watch, making history as the Devils’ first goalkicker last season and will be keen to build on that again. From Northern Territory, there is a heap of great young talents coming through from 2022 onwards, with one 2021 draft prospect being Georgia Johnson, a 160cm talent from Waratah who stood out in the NT All-Stars match last month. Playing in defence, she was one to take note of as she regularly mopped up and got the ball down the field for Team Hewett.

Alongside the top-age talents, a number of over-age talents who missed out on being drafted this year will no doubt be trying to stake their case against be it via the NAB League or state leagues, including Brooke Hards, Jemma Finning and Annabel Strahan (all Bendigo Pioneers), Zoe Hill, Abbey Jordan and Jess Matin (all Dandenong Stingrays), Ash Snow and Maeve Chaplin (both Northern Knights), Amber Micallef (Oakleigh Chargers), Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges) and Grace McRae (Gippsland Power) who all received AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites but were unlucky to miss out.

In Western Australia, Maggie MacLachlan (Subiaco), Brianna Hyde and Mikayla Hyde (both Swan Districts) head into 2021 as over-agers, while mature-agers Ella Smith and Jess Low (both Claremont), Rosie Walsh (East Fremantle) and Sarah Wielstra (Swan Districts) are others who missed out on the AFL Women’s Draft but will remain ones to watch.

Elsewhere, Northern Territorian Mattea Breed continues to develop for Norwood in South Australia, whilst Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers), Jayde Hamilton (Queanbeyan Tigers) and Kiara Beesley (Southern Power) were draft combine invitees from NSW/ACT.

In Queensland, Beth Pinchin has shown great resilience as a mature-ager coming back from multiple injuries, while Courtney Bromage and Brooke Spence are other mature-agers who caught attention this year. Christine Okesene, Ebony Peterson, Laura Blue, Chloe Gregory and Madison Goodwin were also in the mix this year with Draft Combine invites so will be kept on close watch in 2021. The other two players to receive AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites but miss out were the exciting Freda Puruntatameri (Calder Cannons/Northern Territory) and Charlie Vandenberg (Wynyard/Tasmania) who have plenty of development left in them.

2020 AFL Women’s Draft preview: The next crop of young stars to find homes tonight

TONIGHT up to 61 players will live out their AFL Women’s dreams when the 14 clubs select the players to fill out the 2021 lists at the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Like most years, the AFL Women’s Draft still has state-based selections with Adelaide (South Australia) and GWS GIANTS (New South Wales) having sole priority to players that nominate that state. In Queensland (Brisbane and Gold Coast) and Western Australia (Fremantle and West Coast) the teams will split the players, whilst the remaining 10 teams will fight over the Victorian pool. The one major change is that there is only a Victorian pool, not split into Metropolitan and Geelong, so the Cats do not have priority on those from the region.

Richmond holds the all-important first pick in the draft which is expected to kick off from 7pm. There are a number of players the Tigers could select, but the frontrunner is Northern Knights’ star Ellie McKenzie, an inside midfielder who can play just about anywhere on the field and has been a proven talent for a number of years now.

[ … Ellie McKenzie feature … ]

Western Bulldogs traded up from Pick 3 to Pick 2 to ensure they could nab the second best player in the draft, with Tyanna Smith high up there in contention. The Dandenong Stingrays’ star has very few flaws in her game and has elite acceleration and a match-winning ability. The other one in contention if the Dogs opt to go tall could be another Northern Knights’ star in Alyssa Bannan as another forward option, as she can play tall or small and even push up into the midfield.

[ … Tyanna Smith feature … ] | [ … Alyssa Bannan feature … ]

Also in the mix for the top Victorian picks are Sandringham Dragons’ Sarah Hartwig, a rebounding defender who could fill the need at Melbourne with Pick 5. Whichever player is left of the trio, expect the Saints to pounce on with Pick 6 in what showcases the elite top-end talent of this year’s group. Another possibility for the pick could be Northern Knights’ Jess Fitzgerald if the Saints choose to add extra midfield class to their side.

[ … Sarah Hartwig feature … ] | [ … Jess Fitzgerald One to Watch  … ]

West Coast and Adelaide also have top five picks coming in at picks three and four, with the Eagles having a decision to make whether they go high-flying Shanae Davison from their own aligned-Academy or if they look at someone like Sarah Verrier, a Peel Thunder talent with a great blend of inside-outside traits or Bella Lewis a hardened midfielder who has been sensational this year. The Crows are expected to be a little more predictable, with Teah Charlton the standout prospect, though given they have a monopoly on the South Australian nominees, they can select anyone in any order.

[ … Shanae Davison feature … ] | [ … Sarah Verrier feature … ] | [… Bella Lewis … ] | [ … Teah Charlton feature … ]

Gold Coast becomes the first Queensland team into the draft at Pick 7, and with players still able to nominate the Gold Coast and Brisbane zones, a Suns Academy member such as Annise Bradfield, Daisy D’Arcy, Maddison Levi or Beth Pinchin could be among those in consideration. For the Lions a pick later, Zimmorlei Farquharson looms as the standout youngster in the group.

[ … Annise Bradfield … ] | [ … Daisy D’Arcy feature … ] | [ … Maddison Levi feature … ] | [ … Zimmorlei Farquharson feature … ]

The final pick inside the top 10 is Geelong and they have the most interesting selection with the top group likely off the board, it is an even balance of players they could choose from. If they opt to go local – knowing they do not have priority – then perhaps the skill and class of Falcons’ Darcy Moloney could be an option. If they want to go a little taller, then Isabelle Pritchard could head down the highway from the Western Jets and provide a strong inside presence, or they could look to a proven big-game performer in Northern Knights’ Fitzgerald.

[ … Darcy Moloney feature … ] | [ … Isabelle Pritchard feature … ]

Western Bulldogs become the first team to make their second selection at Pick 11, which is effectively Pick 6 from the Victorian draft. If they went Smith in the first selection, they could look to go taller here and look to someone like Bulldogs’ supporter Pritchard or perhaps consider Murray Bushrangers’ key forward Olivia Barber. If they went for Bannan with their second selection, perhaps Fitzgerald is one to join the ranks as yet another Knight, whilst the likes of classy forward Bella Eddey or outside mover Mimi Hill could come into consideration through the first round.

[ … Olivia Barber feature … ] | [ … Bella Eddey feature … ] | [ … Mimi Hill feature … ]

Carlton enter the draft at Pick 12, and the names already raised in Fitzgerald, Hill and Eddey could be around the mark, though if they want to add an inside midfielder, then perhaps Falcons’ Laura Gardiner could be a suggestion. North Melbourne are next up and will also be keen to add another midfielder to the ranks, and try and predict what Melbourne (Picks 15 and 17) and Western Bulldogs (Pick 16) are going to do. If the Dees did not end up with Hartwig, then they could look at Dandenong Stingrays’ Zoe Hill with a selection, or if Pritchard has somehow slid, she is another defensive option.

[ … Laura Gardiner feature … ] | [ … Zoe Hill feature … ]

The West Australian teams squeeze in between the Victorian ones, with Fremantle likely to grab one of Verrier or Bella Lewis at the pick. Both are Fremantle-aligned and the Dockers know they can have an immediate impact in last year’s unbeaten side. The Eagles could look to Davison – if not already taken – or the classy Mikayla Morrison with this selection, or go for the ready-made Nyra Anderson at Pick 18.

[ … Bella Lewis feature … ] | [ … Mikayla Morrison feature … ] | [ … Nyra Anderson feature … ]

The last team to enter the draft is Collingwood with Pick 19 the Magpies’ first selection. Expect that to be Tarni Brown because on talent alone she is a top 10 pick, so the black and white army will gladly use their first pick on the Eastern Ranges’ jet. They will look to add some more midfield options, and she adds some extra speed and class to the team. Expect Alice Burke to be read out at the Saints’ Pick 24 – again great value – otherwise anything else is a bargain.

[ … Tarni Brown feature … ] | [ … Alice Burke feature … ]

The draft crop becomes so even outside of that top 20, with so many talented players fighting for spots on AFL Women’s lists. Ash Woodland and Georgia Nanscawen are readymade prospects who can impact immediately at AFL Women’s level, whilst Alana Barba, Shanara Notman, Nikia Webber, Amber Ward and Mattea Breed are all talls who have an extra year of experience as over-agers. Not holding a Draft Combine invite per say, South Australian duo Rachelle Martin and Matilda Zander would be a couple of others on clubs radars as ones who can make an immediate impact.

Some former basketballers who have crossed to football in the last 12-18 months are Amelia Velardo, Annabel Strahan and Carly Remmos, whilst Jess Matin (cricket) and Charlie Vandenberg (hockey) are among others who have forced high-level careers in other sports. Queenslanders, Christine Okesene, Brooke Spence, Laura Blue and Lucy Single are others who have transferred from various codes over the years.

From a Victorian perspective, among other names in various midfield positions are outside midfielder, Abbey Jordan and Joanna Lin, inside midfielders, Brooke Hards, Olivia Meagher and Winnie Laing, balanced midfielders Eliza McNamara, Megan Fitzsimon and Maeve Chaplin. Meanwhile the standout ruck is Maggie Caris.

Up forward, Renee Saulitis is the most dangerous small forward, whilst Isabella Simmons is a taller option, and Abbi Moloney a rapidly improving player. In defence, Ash Snow has great speed, while the likes of Jemma Finning, Mietta Kendall and Amber Micallef have all produced great seasons. As some raw talents, Alice O’Loughlin and Alice Astbury have had glimpses in the few games they have played, whilst Grace McRae and Daisy Walker have been valuable across multiple positions though predominantly in the middle.

From South Australia, Indy Tahau is the other star top-ager who is likely to join her South Adelaide teammate Charlton at the Crows, whilst for NSW/ACT,  Murray Bushrangers’ Abby Favell, midfielder-defender Emily Pease and surprise packet Kiara Beesley were among the Draft Combine invites. From the Northern Territory, top-ager Stephanie Williams leads the charge and has nominated Victoria, while Freda Puruntatameri – who played some games for Calder Cannons – and mature-ager Janet Baird have all caught the eye.

Out west, mature-agers Sarah Wielstra (25 years-old) and 20-year-olds, Ella Smith, Rosie Walsh and Jess Low all earned combine invites. Meanwhile from the top-age group, twins Brianna and Mikayla Hyde have impressed moving into the midfield this season, while leading forward Maggie MacLachlan is another player in contention to be drafted.

[ … FOR FULL FEATURES ON MORE THAN 80 PLAYERS HEAD TO OUR AFLW FEATURES PAGE … ]

TEAM-BY-TEAM PICKS:

Adelaide: 4, 45, 47
Brisbane: 8, 37, 38
Carlton: 12, 28, 36
Collingwood: 19, 25, 26, 31, 33
Fremantle: 14, 30, 46
Geelong: 10, 20, 21, 27, 39
Gold Coast: 7, 23, 50, 54, 57, 58, 60, 61
GWS: 9, 29, 42
Melbourne: 5, 15, 17, 35, 41, 48
North Melbourne: 13, 22, 44, 49, 55
Richmond: 1, 43, 52
St Kilda: 6, 24, 34, 40, 51
West Coast: 3, 18, 32, 53, 56, 59
Western Bulldogs: 2, 11, 16

Talented forward Hyde made makes midfield move

MODELLING her game off Collingwood excitement machine Jamie Elliott, Western Australia product Mikayla Hyde draws a lot of similarities between the way she plies her trade on the footy field and that of Elliott. Having pushed into the midfield this year, Hyde noted the evolution of her game from being a forward to a player that can rotate through and have an influence.

“I’ve always been a Jamie Elliott fan. When I watched him I always saw that he was playing forward, before AFLW was even a thing I was always like ‘I want to kick goals like he did’. And then it’s actually funny he moved into the midfield this year, for Collingwood and I also played midfield mostly this year for Swan Districts,” Hyde said.

Drawing inspiration from Elliott from a men’s footy perspective, Hyde also highlighted the work of former Calder Cannons star and current St Kilda player Georgia Patrikios who is renowned for her cleanliness, coverage of the ground and sheer star power.

“In the female side of things probably a player like Georgia Patrikios. I think she is so clean and is a pretty tough midfielder as well. I would like to play exactly like her, I do like to model my game around someone like her.”

Dissimilar to her twin sister Brianna who supports Richmond, Hyde has been a lifelong Pies fan, so much so she made the trek over to the MCG for the 2018 Grand Final between Collingwood and her home state side, West Coast Eagles. Not getting the desired outcome – a Collingwood premiership – the youngster not only had to deal with the loss but so too the venture home.

“Went to the grand final in 2018 and I can confirm that I did lose a few tears after we lost,” Hyde admitted. “Fly over there and then fly home with all the Eagles supporters but we still wore Collingwood stuff because you know, we’re loyal.”

In terms of her own journey, Hyde made mention that it was the influence of her father and brothers that really prompted her love affair with the game and made her hungry to take the field.

“Probably mostly to do with dad, he’s a Collingwood supporter and so am I and we kind of just grew up watching it with him,” she explained. “Both our brothers played footy and we kind of watched them. We didn’t play until about Year 6 in our primary school team with the boys. And then after that we wanted to keep playing but mum wouldn’t let us because we didn’t know there was girls teams out there, and eventually we found girls teams and joined Swan Districts.”

“I played school footy and that led to like an All-Stars game, and we were on the Swan Districts side because that was the closest WAFL club to our house. Then from there the girls that were coaching actually played for Swans and then invited us to come down to the youth girls team,” Hyde said.

When speaking about the moment that she was identified and chosen to join the ranks at Swan Districts, Hyde reminisced on how important it was for her to be able to take the footy field with a group of girls and really get an opportunity to show what she is made of.

“Yeah, it was so good, I was with Mikayla Bowen at the same time, and we wanted to play for so long and mum just kept saying no, she wouldn’t let us play with the boys. So to know it was an actual girls team and actually play was so cool.”

Having grown up watching a lot of footy, Hyde identified that one of her most damaging attributes on the footy field is her ability to read the play and see the patterns unfold. When it comes to areas to improve on, the 18-year-old wants to “develop (her) contested ball on the floor, just being a little bit cleaner”.

Representing Western Australia in 2019, Hyde touched on what an amazing experience it was and the stark differences between playing in that competition and the WAFL Women’s, having to contend with much bigger bodies.

“Yeah it was insane, and the girls that you play with make it even better. When you’re over there you meet girls from eastern states, and that’s even cooler too, I’ve got so many mates up in Queensland and in Victoria. Such a good experience overall.”

“I think it is just body size that you verse, like we verse some pretty big girls. I’m not a huge human as it is,” she joked. “So versing the huge girls in the WAFLW, avoiding contact is harder to take but I got used to it, in the second year of league I got used to the harder hits where at states you can kind of use it to be stronger on the field and take on people and take on tackles.”

In her short career so far, Hyde has had some pretty momentous occasions, not only playing in a grand final but winning the premiership and some added silverware in the form of a best on ground.

“Probably 2017 when Swan Districts went back-to-back to back on the same day, our youth girls, reserves and league had all won the premiership and then I snagged best on ground so I was stoked with that,” she said. “But to win a premiership was good.”

“I was actually really surprised because the microphone cut out, and then someone must have heard it was my name and my mates were trying to tell me get up, and I was like no way, I was not expecting it at all but it was cool.”

Swan Districts has been a part of Hyde’s life for a long time, with the youngster crediting the work of the club for ensuring that women’s football is viable for all girls through their inclusivity and commitment to the program.

“I think we’re such a tight unit like from what people see, externally it’s nothing to what is in between the four walls like, especially we’re the only club in – definitely in WA that has their own female change rooms like the WAFL club. So that just shows that our clubs really care for our females. All of our coaches are always so supportive and we’re a really diverse club as well, we accept everyone,” she explained.

In terms of coaches and people at the club who have had an influence on the 18-year-old, it was hard for her to go past Kara Antonio, crediting the Fremantle captain for her progression, confidence to take the game on and general development as a player.

“Definitely Kara Antonio last year at least, really helped like guided me through on how I could make it all the way up and she still to this day has always been there for me and stuff like that so I’d definitely say Kara Antonio.”

A day out from the draft, Hyde hopes to “end up on an AFLW list” stating that “anyone that would take me I will be there”.

Hyde keen for next step in football journey

A ONE-EYED Richmond supporter, Brianna Hyde said one day it would be the dream to join her beloved Tigers and ply her trade on the footy field for the yellow and black. Hailing from Western Australia the 18-year-old has a bright future ahead of her and already has a wealth of experience under her belt having played with Swan District in the WAFL Women’s competition.

“If I could obviously would be Richmond because that would be the dream but any team would be awesome, I’d be grateful,” she said.

A member of the Swan Districts side, Hyde was not always involved in footy, instead spending some time on the track and field before finding her way back to the oblong-ball as a teenager.

“I started playing Auskick with my brothers. But after that mum would never let me play with the boys so I went to athletics,” Hyde said. “Did athletics until I think I was about 15, or 14, then I started playing or found out about Swans like the women’s side and started playing youth girls there.”

Although it took some convincing to start, Hyde’s parents are now fully onboard with her decision to play footy and attend most games to support not only her but so too her sister Mikayla.

“Yeah she (mum) didn’t want me playing with the boys I think,” she said. “But now they’re fully involved, absolutely love it and come to every game and mum wishes that she let us play when we asked 100 million times a year. But they 100 hundred per cent have our backs and support us.”

Boasting an athletics background of which her favourite events were sprinting, javelin and hurdling Hyde possesses some pretty damaging traits. But it is her love for footy and time spent watching the sport that Hyde believes is one of her biggest strengths on the footy field as it enables her to read the play and impact it accordingly.

“Probably my footy knowledge to be honest, I’ve watched a lot of footy from a young age so I can read the play pretty well,”  she said.

Standing at 164cm Hyde is not the tallest player on the footy field and is still developing areas of her game play, with the youngster identifying aspects like her body strength as a key component she wants to work on to ensure she is a dominant force.

“Yeah probably like my body size just so I can tackle harder, I struggle a bit because I’m on the smaller, lighter side so hopefully my tackling can get better,” she said.

Swan Districts has been Hyde’s home for a couple of years now with the youngster touting the family-like environment as a key aspect while also highlighting how the people there have helped her develop into the footballer she is today.

“Amazing, absolutely love the club. It’s been so much fun like my development, and really made me a better person, as well with the people always around,” she stated.

When it comes to key influences at the club it was hard for Hyde to go past Fremantle Dockers star Kara Antonio. The highly talented midfielder took both Hyde sisters under her wing, encouraging them to ply their trade at the top level of footy in WA, something Hyde is incredibly thankful for.

“Definitely Kara Antonio when she was here,” Hyde said. “I got to know her really well and then not this year, last year, she pushed me and my sister up to play League. We both weren’t confident in playing League but she had hope for us and we ended up playing the season in WAFLW.”

League was not only a step up in intensity and skill but all round competition with the lightly framed Hyde competing with much bigger bodied and experienced players. Although it took her a while to find her feet, the 18-year-old has become a regular feature in the Swan Districts and is not afraid to back herself in.

“Yeah, definitely my first year I was a bit scared because of the size of me compared to some of them. But I just got confident and I’m fine now,” she said.

Not only does Hyde play at the Swans but so too works at the club, often balancing her role as a community liaison with other elements such as her training after graduating from high school last year.

“I’m the community liaison so I do a traineeship but I work with the community, schools and run programs with troubled kids and disadvantaged kids. But yeah I love the job it’s really fun,” she said.

“Yeah, it is fun you get a bunch of new kids and get to see them grow as a person.”

Engrained in the Swans decor Hyde recounted a couple of momentous occasions, none bigger than that of winning the premiership back in 2016 with the hardworking midfielder valuing the chance to run out for her club and lift the cup.

“Probably winning the grand final in 2016 for the Swan Districts because all three grades won, our youth girls, reserves and league won, we were all premiers so that was pretty cool,” she said.

“I’d never played in a grand final before so it was absolutely amazing and to just top it off that all three grades won it was massive for the club,” Hyde said. “I don’t think that’s ever been done before, especially by women. It’s pretty cool.”

AFL Women’s Draft preview: Fremantle Dockers & West Coast Eagles

THE AFL Women’s Draft is fast approaching and in the lead-up to the draft, we take a look at each of the AFL women’s sides in pairs and see what they might look for, and who might be available with the selections they have. Next up in our series are the two sides from Western Australia, in Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles.

Fremantle Dockers – Western Australia pool

Draft selections: 14, 30, 46, 58

Off-season summary:

The Dockers made a few moves in the off-season with three players delisted alongside the retirement of Kate Flood. The experienced Mia-Rae Clifford, as well as Sarah Garstone and Lindal Rohde were all delisted by the Dockers, while Tayla Bresland headed to state rivals West Coast for Pick 46. Coming into the side was North Melbourne’s Jess Trend for a bargain basement price of Pick 44, effectively making it a straight swap in Trend for Bresland. The Dockers wrapped up a productive off-season by picking up Tarnee Tester as a delisted free agent seeing enough to suggest she has more to give at the elite level.

Finishing on top of the AFL Women’s table undefeated in 2020, the Dockers will be determined to back it up with a successful year in 2021 and enter with the second and third selections in the AFL Women’s Draft.

A draft look:

The two players the Dockers will likely look at are two hardened competitors in Sarah Verrier and Bella Lewis, who both trained at the Dockers over the summer. Verrier was a member of the premiership-winning Peel Thunder side in the midfield, while Lewis continued to improve through the midfield-half-forward line and is readymade to have an impact if need be. Both would be worthy selections with Verrier a player who has caught the eye for some time at junior level.

Others who fall under the Fremantle catchment include Lewis’ Claremont teammates, Jess Low and Ella Smith, and towering key forward Rosie Walsh who has enjoyed a strong season at senior level for the Sharks. Of course the Dockers could look at a number of West Coast Academy players too if they see fit in the draft.

West Coast Eagles – Western Australia pool

Draft selections: 3, 18, 32

Off-season summary:

West Coast made plenty of moves over the off-season from a list perspective with Kate Bartlett, Cassie Davidson, Emily McGuire, Danika Pisconeri and Tester all delisted. Most of them stepped up at WAFL Women’s level to suggest that they could all earn a call-up if the Eagles – or Dockers as they did with Tester – feel they deserve another chance, while Emily Bonser also announced her retirement.

In terms of trades, Western Bulldogs’ Irish recruit Aisling McCarthy joined the blue and gold for effectively Pick 16, as the Eagles helped the Bulldogs move one spot higher on the draft board which would not impact West Coast having the first selection in the West Australian draft. They also brought in Bresland for Pick 46 who will join the raft of players switching between the teams out west.

A draft look:

The Eagles have a number of top-end talented youngsters in high-flyers Mikayla Morrison and Shanae Davison. Holding pick one and three in the AFL Women’s Draft, they could secure both with those selections, or look at one of the Fremantle prospects too. Morrison has velcro-hands in any conditions and is so classy around the ground, while Davison is an athletic high flyer with a remarkable contested marking ability.

Looking at some of the other West Coast-aligned players, other Swan Districts teammates in twins, Brianna and Mikayla Hyde, and Sarah Wielstra have earned AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitations, as has Subiaco’s Maggie MacLachlan.

As an overall look at the West Australian draft crop, there is plenty to like about the players on offer, and both sides will be stronger for it with talent at ground level and in the air that could step up and have a massive impact at AFL Women’s level next season.

Final quarter frenzy sends Sharks into the prelim

A FINAL quarter frenzy by reigning premiers, East Fremantle has seen the Sharks bob up and defeat Swan Districts for the second consecutive week in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition. Last week’s win over the Swans was to secure home ground advantage – as well as a finals spot itself – while this week was putting the final nail in the black and whites coffin for the season. In what was an unpredictable contest – from the matchplay to the weather – East Fremantle got up just in the knick of time despite being held scoreless for two quarters.

The Sharks kicked the first two goals of the game thanks to a strong breeze favouring their end at New Choice Homes Park, with Samara Pluschke getting on the board via a snap just one minute into the contest. The Swans had chances of their own, with young guns Mikayla Morrison and Shanae Davison combining to give veteran, Fi Boucher a chance but could not quite control it, while Nyra Anderson kicked into the player on the mark from 20m out. The wind was making it difficult for the Swans, with even the football seemingly barracking for the Swans.

Ashley Sharp was running into an open 50, only for a Jack Crisp-like bounce to cause her to reassess, only to be caught by Pluschke at half-forward. Julie-Ann Norrish and Alex Williams were having sensational days down back, whilst Gabby O’Sullivan was doing Gabby O’Sullivan things, and setting up her teammates. A long bomb inside 50 only just missed the hands of Rosie Walsh, but O’Sullivan’s next touch was an intercept and handball to Lily Bird 30m out who made no mistake off a quick step from 30m. The Sharks led by 14 points, and it was only a Jess Cox chance – a snap towards goal – that was knocked through for a behind to make the deficit 13 points at the first break.

The second term was more of an arm-wrestle for both sides, as Mother Nature had a laugh at the players expense. The strange term began with Larissa Versaci winning a free for being polaxed – by her own teammate – much to the shock of Anderson who the umpire blamed for the contact. Light rain began falling a few minutes into the contest, and that became heavy rain seven and a half minutes through, before Mother Nature decided she wanted to go the full distance and just outright bucketed down in what was more of a good day for ducks rather than Swans or Sharks, but both sides adapted to the new conditions.

It was unlucky for the Swans who could not take full advantage of the wind like the Sharks had in the first term, but after a few chances from Anderson and Tara Stribley, Swan Districts broke through. Morrison had a set shot that looked like it was a dry day, putting through a vital major, the first of the contest for the visitors to draw within five points at half-time. The work of Mikayla Hyde and Hayley Cole had been impressive, as the Swans just kept within touch at the main break.

The rain lightened up after that, with the third term more wet conditions than consistent rain, and it was Swan Districts that emerged beneficiaries despite kicking into the wind. They booted three goals to zero, holding the Sharks goalless for a second straight quarter. Off the back of some great work by Anderson, Sharp was able to get ball to boot early despite slipping over, handing her side the lead. Not long after a multitude of 50s in an undisciplined effort by the Sharks, handed dour full-back Lauren Osborne with the most unlikely of set shots from the goalsquare. The defender delivered for the Swans, extending her side’s lead out to seven points at the 10-minute mark of the quarter.

A kicking in danger call against Ruby Schleicher gave Mikayla Hyde a set shot from 30m, with the talented top-age teenager making no mistake, judging the breeze perfectly. Along with Anderson, Davison and her sister Brianna Hyde, Mikayla was willing her side to victory. With the lead out to 14 points, East Fremantle needed a response, but unfortunately could not muster anything of note as Versaci had a good old fashioned worm burner in the Sharks’ only set shot of the term.

Having to match Swan Districts’ effort of three goals against the breeze in the last quarter, the Sharks got to work looking damaging from the get-go. Katelyn Catalano got them on the board for the first time since midway through the first term, albeit soccering through a behind. Swans had moved Boucher to defence in order to add some extra experience behind the ball, but she was caught holding Sara Lewis who made no mistake from 15m out and got the ball rolling for the home team. The Swans continued to attack, but the work of Norrish, Williams and Schleicher was keeping them at bay. Morrison missed an uncharacteristic flying shot at the goal six minutes into the term to make the margin eight points, which would end up being the Swans last score of the game.

East Fremantle dominated possession the next six minutes, but it would take a defensive effort from Versaci who laid a terrific tackle, to nail a set shot from 15 metres to draw within two points. In a surprise to no one, it was O’Sullivan who popped up with the game-winner. Receiving the handball out of a stoppage, O’Sullivan put ball to boot with a clever snap to create something out of nothing and hand her side the lead with five minutes to play. Chloe Reilly almost kicked a third goal in a few minutes with the outside of the boot, but it went through the wrong sticks.

The lead was still four points, and despite Mikayla Hyde and Davison pressing up the wing great defensive pressure from the Sharks kept the Swans from advancing any further. With a couple of repeat stoppages inside 50 – and an O’Sullivan set shot that chewed her 30 seconds off the clock – the reigning premiers were able to hold on in a game that was as unpredictable as the 2020 year, and move through to face Peel Thunder in the preliminary final next week.

EAST FREMANTLE 2.2 | 2.2 | 2.2 | 5.5 (35)
SWAN DISTRICTS 0.1 | 1.3 | 4.4 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS: 

East Fremantle: S. Pluschke, L. Bird, S. Lewis, L. Versaci, K. Catalano.
Swan Districts: M. Morrison, A. Sharp, L. Osborne, M. Hyde.

ADC BEST:

East Fremantle: G. O’Sullivan, S. Wong, M. Ross, J. Norrish, A. Williams
Swan Districts: M. Hyde, B. Hyde, S. Davison, J. Cox, A. Ralph

In an equally topsy-turvy game, minor premiers Subiaco were able to hold on in a low-scoring win over Peel Thunder to book a spot in the WAFL Women’s Grand Final. The Lions booted the only two goals of the first term to lead by 13 points, before the Thunder kicked three of the next four majors to hit the front at half-time. Trailing by two points at the main break, Subiaco edged ahead courtesy of a 1.2 to 0.0 third term, and in wet conditions held on in a no-score final term. The end result was a 4.4 (28) to 3.4 (22) victory in favour of the Lions who now have a week off to await the winner of Peel Thunder and East Fremantle in the preliminary final next weekend.

Kia Buckley (two goals), Aimee Schmidt (one) and Abbey Dowrick (one) all hit the scoreboard for the Lions, while Kate Bartlett (two) and Chloe Wrigley (one) were the major goalkickers for the Thunder in defeat. Subiaco’s best were Jessica Ritchie, Tiah Haynes and Ange Stannett, while the experience of Hayley Miller was crucial. For the Thunder, Wrigley, Courtney Rowley and Tanisha Anderson were all named amongst the best and will be important in their clash next week.

Picture: (via) East Fremantle Women’s Facebook

WAFL Women’s weekly wrap: Round 4 – Swans triumph over reigning premiers in wet conditions

SWAN Districts finally broke through for a second win after a couple of competitive efforts, defeating reigning premiers East Fremantle by 12 points in wet and windy conditions at Steel Blue Oval yesterday. The result saw the Swans move back inside the top four and move to 2-2 from four rounds, sentencing the Sharks to their third consecutive loss and bumping them out of the finals spots.

Led by young guns, Shanae Davison and Mikayla Morrison who as head coach, Jo Taylor said “played like they were playing with a dry footy all day”, the home side came back from a goalless first term and an eight-point half-time deficit to boot four goals to one in the second half. Both Davison and Morrison kicked terrific goals with clean hands, while fellow State Academy talent Nyra Anderson booted two majors, and Mikayla Hyde was one of the more prominent players through the midfield.

Coming into the day, both Swan Districts and East Fremantle had dropped their past two matches after Round 1 wins over Peel Thunder and South Fremantle respectively in the opening round of the season. Confronted by the wet conditions, and what would turn into heavy rain in the second half, both teams were willing to just win territory early with a lot of soccering off the deck to get the ball inside 50. Taylor said the team had to adjust to the conditions from what it had trained with previously, but knew that the young team could not afford to get too bogged down both metaphorically and physically against a more experienced and stronger side.

“We certainly addressed it and tried to drive home to the girls that it needed to be a territory game and that it was going to be really contested,” Taylor said. “We didn’t want it to just become a slog fest, so we still encouraged the players to take their opportunities and use their speed and their skill to break the game open when the opportunity arose.”

Despite trailing by eight points at half-time and only a sole Anderson goal with two minutes to play in the half following a free kick for an unrealistic attempt as the only major in the opening half, the Swans still kept in touch. They had limited their opponents to just the two majors themselves, which came via a Sharks young gun in Chloe Reilly – who snapped around her body well in the opening term – and then another State Academy member in Roisin Walsh who got on the end of a chain of neat passes to quickly get boot to ball and at that stage, give her side a two-goal advantage.

Taylor said despite trailing on the scoreboard, she was impressed with her side’s pressure all over the ground, and consistently attacked the ball and the ball carrier to wear down the Sharks as more time went on.

I think we were really, our pressure was through the roof for the whole game,” she said. “Our tackle pressure, forward pressure and around the ground and I think at the contest. “In the clearances we were actually holding our own, if not just in front for the majority of the game. “But as the game wore on, the girls were able to adjust to the conditions, but also it’s a young playing group that are still learning to play together, so each week they are feeling that connection a little bit more. “As the game went on, we were able to see that sort of trust in each other to spread the ball from the contest. “We were able to capitalise a bit more from the breakeven early and then dominating the contest as the game went on.”

The game really turned on the scoreboard midway through the premiership quarter when the Swans booted back-to-back goals on their way to four consecutive majors in the second half. Unbelievable pieces of play from Davison in the third, and Morrison in the fourth where they just created something out of nothing was superb, and while Walsh booted her second major late in the game – returning from an injury scare from her earlier goal – it would not be enough for the Sharks.

One player who put in a real four quarter performance was Swan Districts captain, Emily McGuire who time and time again repelled the ball off half-back and limited easy opportunities for the Sharks inside 50.

Em’s been in our system for a while but she’s still a really young player,” Taylor said. “Everyone feels like she’s been around forever and she’s now the captain of our football club. She’s still young and learning these roles. “I still think Em’s best position is behind the footy because she does patrol it well and she uses it really well. “So it was nice for it to come off for her, particularly in those conditions. “It was pretty tough, but she was pretty sure-handed and most of her decisions were very good. “It did give us the opportunity to break that line with her ability to dispose of the ball the way that she does.”

While the likes of Davison and Morrison were taking marks and picking the ball off the deck like it was a warm summer’s day, Taylor also credited the work of experienced players inside 50 who were able to crash the packs and force the ball to ground where the teenage talents went to work.

I think most importantly we worked a lot on the way we’re trying to move the ball into the forward line and to have players like Fiona Boucher who’s been around for a while, but she contested all day and crashed the pack and allowed the young players to use their skills and run through, so I think both her and Steph Graskowski were key for those young girls being able to play that role. “Which was just they presented in conditions they were never going to take the big grabs, it was always going to be tough, but they led up all day and brought the ball to ground so we could utilise the skills that those young ones have.”

Boucher worked a tireless game through the forward 50, having a couple of chances close to goal in the third term, with one quick kick in the goalsquare seeing her knocked off it, but a second chance – thanks to a long Morrison bomb in – resulted in a soccer off the ground a metre out. When asked just how crucial the likes of Boucher was for the younger players, Taylor said it was “absolutely crucial” to the development and success of the playing group.

For us to have someone like Fi Boucher and then down back, (Eliza) Gelmi, (Aimee) Ralph and (Lauren) Osborne who are all playing the same role down there. “Just to have that level head that experience it makes the young ones who are a little bit more confident. “It’s also creating that bit of crash and bash, creating a bit of chaos where as you say, Mikayla Morrison, Shanae Davison they thrive in that environment. “For us we’ve lost a lot of leadership out of our group, but the ones that we have are really crucial to allow us to play the game that we want to play.”

Taylor said Sarah Wielstra impressed her through the ruck, with the recent addition’s follow-up work “outstanding”. She praised the cleanliness of Davison and Morrison throughout the day, whilst said Mikayla Hyde’s progression into the midfield has been terrific, with the lightly-built forward-cum-midfielder playing “one of the best games (Taylor has) seen her play in the contest”. While the win was important in terms of Swan Districts’ finals hopes this season, Taylor said she still wanted her team to improve on the areas it had focused on all through pre-season and the first half of the season – transition and ball movement.

Our transition from defence to attack and then the way we’re moving the ball forward and in women’s footy and with us over the last few weeks, it can tend to get clogged up at that 40m mark,” Taylor said. “Between 40 and 60, rather than we’d like to see the ball go in deeper. “Our ball movement and transition to try and get some deeper entries is definitely something we’ve been working on for the last 10 weeks and will continue to work on those.”

PLAYER FOCUS:

Shanae Davison (Swan Districts)

The talented forward amazed with her ability to take mark after mark around the ground as if it was a perfectly dry day. She presented well, got stuck in playing a high amount of midfield minutes, and won the ball in each third of the ground. She protected the ball drop well in the contest, took a number of contested marks, and then looked to play on at every opportunity she can. Given Davison possesses nice wheels and decision making skills, she was able to get the ball in quickly, and try and open up the game, earning her best on ground in our eyes. Her goal from a quick snap was absolutely superb in the third term.

SWAN DISTRICTS 0.2 | 1.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 (33)
EAST FREMANTLE 1.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 3.3 (21)

GOALS:

Swan Districts: N. Anderson 2, F. Boucher, S. Davison, M. Morrison.
East Fremantle: R. Smith 2, C. Reilly.

ADC BEST:

Swan Districts: S. Davison, M. Morrison, E. Wielstra, E. McGuire, M. Hyde
East Fremantle: J. Norrish, G. O’Sullivan, R. Walsh, K. Tinson, A. Williams

In other Round 4 results, the top two sides continued their strong outings with wins over respective opponents. Subiaco’s unbeaten start to season 2020 rolled on with a massive 14.11 (95) to 2.2 (14) win over South Fremantle at Leederville Oval on Saturday, while Peel Thunder took a crucial away win against Claremont, 3.6 (24) to 2.4 (16) yesterday.

The Lions piled on seven goals in each half on their way to the 81-point smashing, as Aimee Schmidt (five goals), Lara Filocamo (three), Kia Buckley (two) and Abbey Dowrick (two) all had big days out. For the Bulldogs, Kiara Templeman and Lauren Vecchio both hit the scoreboard as the South Fremantle team score continues to increase each week in promising signs.

In Peel Thunder’s eight-point win over Claremont, the Thunder booted three goals to two in the opening half, and just held on from there in a really tight tussle with both teams combining for five behinds in the second half. Kira Phillips was the only multiple goalkicker for the Thunder with two, while Bailey Molloy booted one for the winners. Lewis Bella and Amy Franklin were the two major goalkickers for the Tigers.

Talented Morrison learns to adapt in new system, eyes improvement

ALWAYS an eye-catching player, Mikayla Morrison has never been short of a highlight or two. The Swan Districts young star and AFL Women’s Academy member spoke to Draft Central about her journey through the West Australian pathway, busy schedule and hopes for the Swans’ season ahead.

Like a number of aspiring AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, Morrison played Aussie rules as a child before stopping for a few years and taking it up again as an older teenager. Already she has represented a number of teams at school, club and state level.

“I started liking footy when my older cousin came and lived with us,” Morrison said. “Then I just started playing with school which was Lockridge Primary. “Like just in the little girls carnivals. “Then I didn’t start playing club until Year 7, which was at Bassendean Junior Football Club. I stopped footy for a bit after that year and then I went to East Perth in 2016. “Then I was with them until 2019 and then I moved to Swans this year to play League footy.”

Without a League side in 2020, the move from the Royals to the Swans made sense, and Morrison joined a raft of other AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, including fellow Women’s Academy member Shanae Davisonwho spoke to us last week – and other talents who have impressed on a national stage such as Nyra Anderson, and Mikayla and Brianna Hyde.

Much like other talented West Australian footballers, Morrison was named in the State Academy and represented the Black Ducks at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. Alongside the likes of Anderson and the Hyde sisters, Morrison was able to shine on some of the biggest stages. Her efforts earned her a place in the AFL Women’s National Academy – something she admits she had never heard of – despite not rating her own performance at the carnival too highly.

It’s (WA Academy) been really good,” Morrison said. “I only started that in 2018, I started in 16s. “Then 2019 moved up to 18s which was a pretty good step and then from there, got chosen for National Academy as well. At first I didn’t even know what it was. “I had no idea, but then when I realised what it was I felt really proud of myself because in the championships I thought I didn’t play that well.”

Morrison described running out on Metricon Stadium as “unreal” and it just felt “really cool” to be able to play on an AFL ground on the other side of the country. While the midfielder-forward admitted she was nervous at first, she soon settled in, and then took a mark that few would be likely to forget.

“At first it felt like I let my nerves take over me, but as the game went on I started to feel more comfortable and started to play my own game,” Morrison said. “As I took that (mark), I felt so good because I’ve never obviously taken something like that before. “Looking back at it, the video, I dunno it just felt really good.”

While Morrison has spent the majority of her time inside 50, the athletic and smart player said she sees herself as a midfielder in the future. Morrison said the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships helped with her footy smarts, enabling her to get to ball-winning positions and become more involved around the ground. It also allowed her to make new friends, forming connections through mutual friends she had played with in previous carnivals.

I did get to mingle with the other girls, with a lot of the Indigenous girls,” Morrison said. “We played other carnivals together like the Woomeras and Kickstart, so I got to see them again. “Which was pretty good and they just introduced me to their other teammates, and got to know them.”

Morrison said while she wanted to become more of a midfielder, she admitted her fitness was an area of improvement, something her coaches have pushed her to improve in the coming weeks.

I feel like I’m more of a midfield player but I feel like it was my fitness letting me down a bit, I just needed to get that up,” she said. “Along with fitness, it would be my composure when I’m running with the ball (as another area of improvement). “I got told a few times on the weekend that I sometimes rush it, so I need to compose myself and take my time.”

Morrison’s strengths include her athleticism, in particular her speed and overhead marking, with her precision kicking and tackling pressure also among her better attributes. It has helped her adapt to a new side, having captained East Perth last year, but now representing Swan Districts. She admitted it has been a big change for her, but her teammates have been terrific.

It’s been a lot different,” she said. “Because now I’m one of the youngest. “They’ve been really welcoming, and because I’ve known most of the girls through state and through the community. “I think I’ve adapted pretty well, just getting to know everyone.”

The team has gelled well off the field, and now Morrison believes it is time they gelled on it, with some promising signs, but so many young players and limited time playing together has made it difficult to start strongly. They won their opening round clash, but have dropped the past two matches to arguably the two best sides at the moment.

I feel like we’re going fine,” Morrison said. “I just feel like we haven’t gelled properly yet because we have a lot of new people this year. “We are a young side, but I think we all get along well, but on the field it’s more of a gelling thing.”

Off the field, Morrison is at university where she is studying pre-medicine. Not yet decided on her major field of focus, she has narrowed it down to either nursing, medicine or physio. The extra workload has been pretty tough for the teenager who said she might have preferred to do Year 12 in her top-age year, but also conceded that could be due to the extra workload of a medical degree.

At the moment it’s pretty full on because I’m at uni at the moment studying pre-med and some classes I have later in the day, so I have to rush around for training, but that’s about it,” she said.

Morrison credits her cousin Darnell Morrison as her greatest inspiration and support coming through the pathway and on her football journey. Helping her get into the sport she loves, as well as providing plenty of tips along the way, Morrison said he was a huge influence on her growing up.

“He’s the one that got me into footy and he’d always come down to my games and give me tips,” she said. “When I was younger he took me out to kick the footy, and just watching him made me really want to play.”

Now in her draft year, Morrison said she is always keen to develop her game, and while the two AFL Women’s clubs who could be eligible to draft her do not directly communicate, there is a strong communication channel from the elite level to the up and coming players through the terrific West Australian Academy.

I don’t get much feedback directly from the two clubs, it’s mostly through state,” she said. “I’ll just find that ‘Deggers’ (Clint Degebrodt, Talent Manager – Female Programs) will just text me if the two clubs have something to say or any feedback. “So yeah it’s mostly through State Academy.”

The 2020 season has been like none other and whilst the season has been shortened, Morrison said she was just glad to get back into the action.

“Yeah it (pre-season) was a bit much.” she said. “Just trainings after trainings after trainings, but then with some trainings we’d do scratch matches after training so we wouldn’t be out of it. “But yeah, it got a bit much. “I was just glad when Round 1 came around.”

Now preparing for a Round 5 clash with reigning premiers, East Fremantle at home, Morrison said she believes the Swans have the capability of turning around their couple of losses and posting some wins on the board on the run home.

I still have high hopes, I think we could still make finals,” she said. “We just have to really put our heads down and gel this weekend.”

WAFL Women’s weekly wrap: Lions continue undefeated streak

SUBIACO has remained undefeated after three rounds of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition following a couple of big wins. In the featured game of the round, the Lions won a real grind against a young Swan Districts outfit to ensure Subiaco extended their unbeaten streak.

It was an entertaining contest despite being played between the arcs for the majority of the match, as the the Lions, led by top-age talent Abbey Dowrick won 5.7 (37) to 2.4 (16) in perfect conditions. Dowrick slotted three majors and was the difference between the sides in the end, having an additional couple of chances roaming at half-forward, in what could have been an even bigger day for the talent.

Swan Districts repeated the effort of the game from the week before with an early goal to Sarah Wielstra from the work of Mikayla Hyde who was a little far out to score but found her teammate at the top of the goalsquare. The next 10 minutes of the first term belonged to Subiaco as they dominated forward half possession, and Dowrick took her chance with a snap off a couple of steps, along with a kind bounce that cleared the goalsquare pack to bounce through.

Three minutes later, late inclusion Kia Buckley made sure the coaches gave her some consideration to retain her spot with a strong fend-off on Eliza Gelmi and then put it through from 15m out. Some late pressure from Swans forced the Lions to rush a behind, but then an end-to-end play almost resulted in a second goal to Dowrick who marked all alone but shanked the kick to the right.

The number 23 soon made good on her miss with a chance early in the second term to make no mistake thanks to a thumping goal from 35m out and extend the lead after an earlier Janelle Cuthbertson miss. Jess Cox was having a strong day for the Swans, working well with the likes of Wielstra and Emily McGuire, whilst Mikayla Hyde was busy on the inside. while Mikayla Morrison had a quiet first term, she showed how she does not many touches to do some serious damage with an elite sidestep close to goal and then slammed the Swans’ second major home 12 minutes into the term.

The Swans had some impressive play in the backend of the second term, as Nyra Anderson‘s clean hands at ground level, McGuire’s booming kick and the work of Mikayla Hyde and Tara Stribley through the middle was eye catching. Hayley Cole had a chance in transition but missed to the right as Maggie Maclaughlin took a number of late intercept marks to end the half with Subiaco nine points ahead.

Unfortunately for the young Swan Districts side, it could not muster up a goal in the second half as the Lions had to work incredibly hard for the three they kicked to end the game. The third term was an odd term wither neither side scoring until a behind from Philippa Pienaar in the 15th minute broke the drought. Both sides had battled between the arcs, and it looked like the teams would head into half-time with just one additional behind separating them. Jacqueline Toth had other ideas as she pounced on Shanae Davison who dove on the ball late in the term, won the free kick and then moments before the siren drilled the goal from 15m for a 16-point advantage at the final break.

Swan Districts was not going to roll over though, as Stribley and Brianna Hyde were moving the ball well with some speed, but once again it was the thorn in the side for the Swans all day that broke the camel’s back. After three and a half minutes of early forward possession for Swan Districts, Subiaco rushed the ball inside 50 for the first time to a pack, it spilled and Dowrick did the rest with a quick kick from 40m and had her third for the term.

From there, the battle between the arcs continued as both half-back lines tried to create something, but neither side was able to really get a good look deep with the back 50s set up well. McGuire was trying her best with her ranking long boot as Davison, Brianna Hyde and Bianca Webb had really worked into the game as the match went on and opened up in terms of space. Lindal Rohde had a chance for Subiaco later in the term after smothering a kick in the forward 50, then having a running shot but missed to the left.

Swan Districts had its best chance for the match with Brianna Hyde and Cox combining, but the latter just did not quite settle on the shot running into goal for a behind, which was the home side’s first score of the final term. Once again up the other end less than two minutes later, Subiaco punished the Swans with a late bump from McGuire on talented middle-ager Charlie Thomas who sensed no one was manning the mark following the 50m penalty and ran in for a nice goal late in the match. The final scoring opportunity of the game came from Morrison who after being loose inside 50, had a shot on goal in the last 15 seconds but missed to the right, signalling a 27-point defeat.

Dowrick was the clear standout for the Lions, with Toth, Pisconari and Miller always damaging, while Maclaughlin, Pienaar and Cuthbertson showed some nice signs throughout the contest. Cole was among the Swans’ best with Cox, McGuire, Wielstra and the Hyde sisters, whilst 15-year-old Olivia Cripps was also strong in defence.

SWAN DISTRICTS 1.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 2.5 (17)
SUBIACO 2.3 | 3.6 | 4.7 | 6.8 (44)

GOALS: 

Swan Districts: S. Wielstra, M. Morrison.
Subiaco: A. Dowrick 3, K. Buckley, J. Toth, C. Thomas.

ADC BEST:

Swan Districts: J. Cox, H. Cole, M. Hyde, E. McGuire, S. Wielstra
Subiaco: A. Dowrick, J. Toth, D. Pisconari, H. Miller P. Pienaar

In the other Saturday game, Peel Thunder handed reigning premiers East Fremantle their second consecutive match with an impressive 13-point triumph at David Grays Arena. The Thunder booted the only goal of the first half in a low-scoring match, before booting four goals to three in the second half, and most importantly being more accurate in the half, kicking 4.1 to 3.3 to win 5.5 (35) to 3.4 (22). Kira Phillips booted another two goals for the Thunder, with Krystal Carter, Kate Bartlett and Kate Ditchburn all booting one apiece. For the Sharks, Stephanie Sparke kicked two majors, with Kahra Sprylan snagging one.

On Sunday, it was a cause for celebration in the final term when South Fremantle finally recorded its first goal of the season after two scoreless weeks to open the year for the league’s newest side. Getting a behind on the board in the opening term, the Bulldogs were able to get past the drought of the first eight quarters to finish with a scoreline of 1.3 (9). Unfortunately Claremont was far too good, and as one of the premiership contenders, booted nine goals from 21 scoring shots to win by 57 points. Mhicca Carter booted three goals on debut, with former Calder Cannons and Melbourne AFL Women’s talent, Krstel Petrevski also kicking a major for the Tigers. Brooke Whyte snagged three majors in the win, as did Bella Zadnik and Amy Franklin. for the Bulldogs, Chloe Taylor made history as her club’s first ever goalkicker.

WAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 3 RESULTS:

Swan Districts 2.5 (17) defeated by Subiaco 6.8 (44)
Peel Thunder 5.5 (35) defeated East Fremantle 3.4 (22)
South Fremantle 1.3 (9) defeated by Claremont 9.12 (66)

Pic: WAFL

Davison provides high-flying highlight, but just happy to be out there

IF you are a West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s fan, chances are you have heard of talented AFL Women’s Academy member, Shanae Davison. Her fan base increased on the weekend when she took a massive pack mark in the dying minutes of Swan Districts’ loss to Claremont. While the mark has not defined her career, it has certainly put her in the spotlight this week and she spoke to Draft Central about that moment and her Australian rules football journey.

I’ve talked about it for ages actually,” Davison said of the mark. “I had a bet last year with Ebony Antonio that if I could take a screamer, she’d give me $100. “It was a bit of a build up from last year. “I think the ball was set up very nicely and I actually just went up for a normal mark and ended up getting my knee in her back, which was good, and I just kind of carried.”

While she missed the subsequent set shot, as well as not collecting her reward, she did not have to wait long for a second chance, taking a second mark, albeit a little closer to the ground and nailed that goal with the final kick of the game. The loss marked Swan Districts’ first after winning their opening game of the season a week earlier. Davison said she had enjoyed just running around given the current climate and restrictions in other parts of the country.

It’s been good,” she said. “I’ve just been happy to play again. “(It’s been a) very long preseason and I was injured for most of it. “To be out and just run around and kick the footy again, it was really good to get back out.”

That injury was a serious one resulting in a number of torn ligaments in her ankle, something that is still “a bit of a niggle” but manageable. She certainly showed no signs of issues with her leap on Sunday, and admitted the season delay had helped her have extra preparation.

Oh yeah 100 per cent (the delay helped),” she said. “I think I would have missed a couple of games of footy if it wasn’t delayed.”

Rewinding the clock back to the beginning of her football journey, Davison said she was always a fan of the oblong ball game even as a young child.

I always played footy,” she said. “I grew up in Broome and I played with the boys but when I moved to Perth, one of the girls was like we kind of need more numbers to play community footy so I started there. “Went through all the talent pathways and made my way to Swans and was lucky enough to debut in the first game for League.”

Having originally expected to run out with the Under 18s (Rogers Cup), Davison was fast-tracked into the senior team after showing some impressive form on the track under a pretty talented coach.

I was actually there for Rogers Cup, but I trained with the League girls and Kara Antonio was the coach and she always said it doesn’t matter how old you are and if you could play you were going to be on the field,” Davison said. “So I was very lucky to have her as a coach and the development from her was really good.”

Davison’s love for football blossomed through her family’s support, with her grandfather being a “massive” Geelong supporter. The Swan Districts forward credits both him and her uncle for helping develop her love for the game by having kick-to-kicks and sitting on the couch watching the blue and white hoops.

While last year Davison did not play in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, she spent her time in the Western Australia Academy over summer, and developed through the Swan Districts program over the past few seasons. Last year one of her teammates at the Swans was pre-listed for expansion club West Coast, in Mikayla Bowen.

“We played at Swans together and she’s just such a good person,” Davison said. “She’s always checking on you, seeing how you are. “Making sure you feel comfortable with what you’re doing. “We actually ended up being really good friends and we still are now. It’s been really good to watch her go through what she did last year and the success she had so it’s really helped me to see where she’s at now and that’s where I want to be.”

Even after Bowen was drafted, Davison said the teenager kept in touch with her and was always there offering advice or support.

“I think I’ve asked her a couple of things how she’s going and she’s asked me how I’m feeling about the draft and things like that,” she said. “So it’s really good to have someone to talk to like Mikayla Bowen. “Even a couple of the other girls like Kellie Gibson and that. It’s just been good to have a chat. “But I’m really not trying to think too far into it, just play some footy and have fun.”

In 2020, Davison is just one of a number of talented AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls coming through the program, with fellow Academy member Mikayla Morrison crossing from East Perth, as well as other West Australian talents in Nyra Anderson and Mikayla and Brianna Hyde. Davison said she believed having a strong group of players all aiming for the same thing – being drafted into the AFL Women’s – helped drive the team forward.

Yeah I think that really helped,” Davison said. “I notice that we push each other at training and we can all see that we all want to get drafted, so at training it’s always very competitive, especially the Hyde twins. “I’m really good friends with them, so it’s just the good chats with them about how we’re feeling and I think we’ve just settled each other’s nerves a bit.”

It also helped Davison settle into the West Australian Academy with so many familiar faces. Then came the call about the AFL Women’s National Academy. It was an announcement that surprised the humble forward.

Yeah that was pretty exciting,” she said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting that and that was a very good experience.”

Through the AFL Women’s National Academy, Davison travelled to Darwin and mingled with the most talented players from across the country. It gave her a broader perspective on the talent out there, and from then she took more notice in what was happening around the country. When asked if she was a bit of a ‘footy head’, she was becoming more and more involved in other leagues.

“I am a little bit,” she said. “Honestly last year I didn’t really know much about what was happening in the other states. “It wasn’t until I met the girls and we got talking and things like that. “I think this year I’ve definitely followed it a little bit closer and it’s definitely been cool to see some of the girls’ names chucked in some articles and things like that who I’ve trained and had some really good connections with.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented plenty of challenges, Davison said the Academy players kept in touch over the past few months following the camp. While not able to physically see her friends from the camp, Davison is happy with the West Australian group who are always pushing each other to succeed.

I’ve mainly talked to the WA girls,” she said. “I’ve talked to a couple of girls in Queensland. “I haven’t really had a chat with anyone in Victoria but I imagine it would be very hard over there, especially just when you want to play footy and you can see the other states getting their season along. “We kinda kept in contact just after the camp and COVID we kept in contact, but it’s kinda just drifted off a little bit now.”

Considering the mark on the weekend, it is no surprise that the Swan Districts talent rates her marking as one of her strengths, but also her ability to read the play. Davison is keen to improve her bodywork in one-on-one situations to be able to “do the work early”, enabling her to win more contests.

While she would love to spend some time onball in the future, Davison is just happy to be out there and loving playing football. She is not too sure what the future might hold, but consistency is the key. After missing a bulk of the preseason through her ankle injury, Davison is raring to go and intent on building her fitness week by week and improve her football in any way possible. As for Swan Districts, Davison is quietly confident they will fare well in season 2020.

I think we’ll go alright,” Davison said. “We have a very new team, very young. “But I think we’ll really just want to win, so I think this week we have Subi and that will be a really good test to see where we’re at as a group.”