Tag: Millie Brown

Brown leads from defence for young Bushies

AFTER Millie Brown told us her story last season as a bottom-ager, the Murray Bushrangers captain returned to the NAB League Girls competition with a new role and standing up for her side week-in, week-out. Speaking at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day, Brown said her contested game was a real focus for her coming into season 2019 having spent most of her bottom-age year using her run up either end.

“Probably (developing) my contested ball (is my main focus),” Brown said. “As well as just ensuring that I’m a good leader for my team because we need some leadership. “It was a difficult game on the weekend, so really keen to help the girls out.”

That difficult game for the Bushrangers was the Round 1 76-point smashing at the hands of reigning grand finalists and would-be premiers, Northern Knights. On that day, Brown was unavailable and had to watch from the sidelines as a side brimming with bottom-age and 16-year-old talent was overpowered by a tenacious and determined Knights outfit. With Brown back in the side the following week, Murray bounced back with a four-goal win over the Western Jets before posting a 27-point victory over Gippsland Power. They might have gone on to lose five of their last six games – a remarkable road win against Sandringham Dragons the exception – but did not lose by a margin greater than the Round 1 defeat. Speaking at the time, Brown said it was about bringing the effort each and every week regardless of talent or experience out on the park.

“Probably just a bit of intensity (is what we need), just helping the girls get up and about,” Brown said. “We had a lot of debutants and fresh faces into our first game so it will be really good to bring my experience to the team and just get their attitudes right for the game.”

For Brown’s focus on building her contested ball, she said it was about making her game was rounded as it could be.

“I think in the past I’ve got good skills, but haven’t been aggressive at the ball, so I want to really use that to up my game,” she said. “I think just improving my skills as a whole at that. “Making sure that I’m being a leader for the girls, not just for myself.”

As for her goal, it was no surprise to see the potential Geelong father-daughter selection set her sights on being drafted into the AFL Women’s competition for 2020. Being one of the shining lights for Vic Country in defence, earning All-Australian honours and a National Draft Combine invitation, expect a big future from the talented utility.

Georgie Prespakis wins NAB League Girls Best and Fairest

THE Calder Cannons claimed their third consecutive Best and Fairest with Georgie Prespakis winning the award with 20 votes. At only 16, Prespakis still has plenty of time to develop and fine tune her already impressive skill set averaging 23 disposals and six tackles throughout the 2019 season. Although she was not there to receive the award, sister Maddy took it on her behalf with the Prespakis’ claiming back to back Best and Fairest awards.

Both Lucy McEvoy and Gabby Newton were among some of the top vote-getters showcasing their importance across the field for their respective teams. McEvoy notched up 14 votes for the season while Elisabeth Georgostathis impressed for the Jets, amassing 15 votes for her efforts. Ellie McKenzie also racked up her fair share of votes with 13 votes highlighting her ability to draw the eye with her flashy run and carry.

For the Dandenong Stingrays, Isabella Shannon received the most votes with 10 while both Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown collected seven apiece for the Murray Bushrangers. Oakleigh Chargers’ Joanna Lin also left her mark on the competition with 13 votes to lead her side’s tally.

Bendigo Pioneers = Maeve Tupper 10
Calder Cannons = Georgie Prespakis 20
Dandenong Stingrays = Isabella Shannon 10
Eastern Ranges = Olivia Meagher/Tarni Brown 7
Geelong Falcons = Lucy McEvoy 14
Gippsland Power = Maddison Shaw 10
Murray Bushrangers = Millie Brown 6
Northern Knights = Ellie McKenzie 14 + Gabby Newton 13
Oakleigh Chargers = Joanna Lin 13
Sandringham Dragons = Sarah Hartwig 4
Tasmania Devils = Killarney Morey 3
Western Jets = Elisabeth Georgostathis 15

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)

2019 AFLW Under-18 All Australian side announced

VIC COUNTRY has earned the most nominations in the 2019 AFL Women’s Under-18 All Australian side with six players named in the final 22. Country’s state rival Vic Metro had four, the same amount as Queensland despite the differing results at the championships. Western Australia and Central Allies both had three players in the side, whilst Eastern Allies had the two.

Geelong Falcons’ premiership captain Lucy McEvoy was named captain of the All Australian side, and was one of a number of multiple All Australians, including fellow Most Valuable Players (MVPs), Montana McKinnon and Georgia Patrikios, as well as Serene Watson, Gabby Newton and Lily Postlethwaite all backing up their 2018 selections with 2019 jumpers. McEvoy has the rare honour of making it three consecutive All Australian jumpers, named in the side from 2017-19.

Much like last year’s side, this year’s 2019 All Australian team features a number of bottom-agers, with Vic Country’s Tyanna Smith and Olivia Barber, Vic Metro’s Ellie McKenzie, and Central Allies’ Teah Charlton all making the team despite not being eligible to be drafted until next year.

Of the first time All-Australians, the defence is held down by Queensland with MVP Ellie Hampson and running machine Kitara Whap-Farrar joining Watson in the back six. Brenna Tarrant earns a key defensive post with Vic Country’s Millie Brown alongside teammate Smith at half-back.

Through midfield, St Kilda pre-listed player Molly McDonald and West Coast pre-listed midfielder Mikayla Bowen assist McEvoy onball, while Patrikios and the versatile Sophie Molan are on the wings.

In the forward 50, Roxanne Roux and Charlton are likely to provide the highlights in the air, while McKenzie and Eastern Allies’ MVP Mia King provides the strength. Newton and Barber straighten the side up with some height in the key posts.

Postlethwaite makes the bench once again in the side, joined by players from three different states in Central Allies’ Madison Newman, Western Australia’s Mim Strom and Vic Metro’s Laura McClelland.

AFLW U18 National Championships wrap

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

Central Allies (2-1)

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

MVP: Montana McKinnon

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

Eastern Allies (0-3)

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

MVP: Mia King

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

Queensland (0-3)

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

MVP: Ellie Hampson

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

Vic Country (3-0)

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

MVP: Lucy McEvoy

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

Vic Metro (3-0)

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

MVP: Georgia Patrikios

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

Western Australia (1-2)

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

MVP: Mikayla Bowen

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

Scouting notes: AFLW U18 Championships – Vic Metro vs. Vic Country

IN an impressive game of skill and pressure, Vic Metro got the better of Vic Country for the final Round 1 game of the AFL Women’s Under 18s Championships. Metro won by 44 points and now head up to Queensland full of confidence, while Country will be keen to follow last year’s lead and bounce back from the Metro loss to win against their three opponents up there. Below are Taylah Melki‘s opinion-based notes from the weekend’s match.

U18 Vic Metro

#3 Gemma Lagioia

She worked hard throughout the game and won a heap of the footy over the four quarters. Really good mover across the field and showed good football knowledge to use the ball well and think her way through defence. Always seemed to be in the right positions at half-forward or on a wing for the quick kick out of defence by Country opponents. She would often use her composure to think her way through situations and hit-up targets going forward. Playing through the inside, Lagioia also showed a different element to her usual run-and-gun skilled game with some contested ball winning ability too.
 
#5 Elisabeth Georgostathis
 
Georgostathis impressed throughout the game winning the ball time and time again. She had good positioning in the forward 50 taking a clever mark but was unable to capitalise early in the first quarter missing to the side. She continued her hot form with a very impressive goal on the fly off a few steps and slotting it right through the middle early in the second quarter. She showcased her good hands in close and was clean off the deck. She applied good physical pressure with some crunching tackles throughout the match and attacked the ball hard to win the footy and dish it off to teammates.

#14 Laura McClelland 

McClelland was busy early on and did well to try and repel the forward forays that came her way. Good user of the footy to kick lace out through the middle of the ground and find a teammate in space. She was a real bull around the contest and used her physical pressure to try and out body her opponent. McClelland seemed comfortable behind the ball and was able to push up the ground and kick long when requited.

#15 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan made her presence felt on the scoreboard for Vic Metro with a goal right on the siren in the opening term with the ball rolling through. She presented well up at the footy to take a strong mark on the lead but was unable to capitalise in front of goal in the third term. But she quickly made up for inaccuracy credit to some good body positioning and strong hands above her head to take a big mark just inside the goal square and nail her second goal. Bannan showcased some real attacking flair with a run along the wing, pushing off four opponents and working her way through traffic. She went for a bounce but the ball did not sit for her but worked hard to win the ball back. Nailed her third goal in the fourth quarter, highlighting her good movement in the forward 50 and cleanliness with ball in hand.

#17 Georgia Patrikios

Really good around the contest, clever mover through traffic to keep her arms free and release the ball to a teammate. She applied good tackling pressure to bring her opponent to ground time and time again and showcased her strong hands under pressure. Patrikios displayed her ability to read the flight of the ball and take a couple of big grabs while also appearing to have plenty of time and space to make clever decisions with ball in hand.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

Found plenty of the ball throughout the game appearing to have the ball on a string. She used the ball across the field and showcased her vision and intent to move the ball forward on multiple occasions. Used her nice long kick to penetrate through the opposition defence and took a couple of really strong marks credit to her ability to read the flight of the ball. Impressed with arguably one of the plays of the day streaming down wing and showcasing her speed with 5 bounces ending in the forward 50. McKenzie won plenty of the ball and was a real general across the ground dictating space and delivering the ball to her teammates well. Displayed all her skills and spatial awareness to run through the middle of the ground and just open up the forward 50 time and time again.

#22 Sarah Hartwig
 
Hartwig had a day out down in defence and was a real general down back controlling the forward forays. She won plenty of ball and stood up time and time again in one-on-ones. It was easy to identify what she was doing as time and time again once she knew Metro had numbers covered at the stoppages, she would drop back a kick behind play in case Country cleared the ball out of the stoppage with a bomb on the boot. Taking plenty of intercept marks, she was also able to identify targets up the field, and if she did not mark it, she would spoil her direct opponent, or peel off and come across as a third player up. One of Metro’s best and used it well on the attack.

#23 Nell Morris-Dalton
 
Good crumbing goal showcasing her goal sense and footy smarts to take a few steps around her opponent and then snap it straight through the middle after missing her first two shots at goal. Posed a dominant threat in the forward line kicking another goal in the third quarter after picking the ball up off the deck and using her body positioning to get around her opponent and slot it through the big sticks.

#24 Isabella Grant
 
Grant took a big mark in the opening term and kicked the first goal of the game squeezing it through the big sticks to kick start Metro’s campaign. She took another solid mark in the first quarter and was awarded a double 50 metre free kick and kicked truly nailing her second goal of the game in the first quarter. She consistently presented well up at the footy causing havoc in the forward line and won another double 50 metre and scored from directly out the front

#26 Gabrielle Newton

Newton had a hot start, involved in everything early. She showcased good composure to kick a perfectly weighted pass along the wing and found good space across the ground. She ran hard throughout the match to provide strong leads and options across the field. Was not afraid to get involved in the contest applying good tackling pressure and presented well up at the footy. Posed a threat in all areas of the ground offering strong leads in the forward 50 gathering the ball that popped out the back and banged it straight through the big sticks to kick her first for the game. Used her strong hands and good vision to punish the opposition.

Vic Country

#3 Paige Sheppard

Worked hard throughout the four quarters and particularly stepped up in the second half with the game slipping away from Country. Put her body on the line time and time again and ran hard to win touches through the middle and set up attacking plays. Applied great defensive pressure on the ball carrier throughout the match as well and was one of Country’s best in that area.

#4 Renee Saulitis

Relatively quiet day early given Metro’s forward half dominance, but left her mark on the game with a quick couple of steps and a goal midway through the final quarter once Country had a sniff going forward. She showed that she has what it takes to be an impact player slotting another goal in the final term credit to her goal sense and clean hands. Just finds space and is clever around goal.

#5 Luka Lesosky-Hay

Lesosky-Hay was busy early on winning a heap of the ball and working hard across the ground to get into damaging positions. She was not afraid to put her body on the line and contest for the ball both in the air and at ground level.
 
#10 Sophie Locke

A key player down in defence, read the play really well and contested hard at every occasion. Locke took a heap of big contested marks and kept her feet. She used her strong hands to win the ball back for her side and dished off a couple of well weighted kicks to teammates. She showcased her good hands under pressure and covered the ground well to consistently impose herself on the contest winning her fair share of the ball.

#12 Tyanna Smith

Provided some trademark run off half-back and along the wing, trying to break the lines going forward. It was tough for her to get too much happening with the ball camped in the Metro’s defensive half, and with Metro’s defenders, such as Sarah Hartwig and Isabelle Pritchard so well set up forward of centre. She kept trying throughout the four quarters and did have a few nice plays across the game.

#21 Sophie Molan

Molan was good in close and worked tirelessly around the contest to win the ball for Country. She showcased her strength in the air with a big contested grab and was strong overhead to go back with the flight and put the mitts up.

#22 Millie Brown

Brown had a blinder winning a heap of the footy and using it well. Really safe set of hands and played a solid role down in defence. She really controlled the defensive 50 and worked hard to try and nullify the influence of her opponents. Consistently showed good intent to move the ball forward and make her presence felt across the field. Brown highlighted her footy smarts reading the play well and floating into the right spots in the defensive 50 to regain possession for her side. She was careful and precise with ball in hand making the most of her possessions.

#23 Lucy McEvoy

McEvoy led from the front all game accumulating plenty of the ball and using it efficiently. Lowered the eyes and used the ball well to kick the ball lace out to a teammate on the lead. She showcased her strength to take a big mark despite the oncoming contact and pressure and dropped into the holes taking a good intercept mark. She used her long booming kick to move the ball forward and create scoring opportunities. McEvoy positioned well across the ground and just consistently imposed herself on the contest, involved in everything. She pushed hard in the final term to try and create a spark. She moved forward and applied good pressure to try and create shots on goal but was unable to capitalise in the last quarter only registering a minor score.

Vic Metro claims impressive AFLW U18 win over Country counterparts

VIC Metro has made an impressive statement to the rest of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships teams with a clinical 44-point win over Vic Country at Avalon Airport Oval yesterday. Northern Knights middle-ager Ellie McKenzie was absolutely superb playing around the ground, working hard in a midfield that showed it could balance its share of contested and uncontested work, with McKenzie taking a five-bounce run along the wing – just two shy of her effort in the NAB League Girls Grand Final, despite dewy conditions. Knights teammates Britney Gutknecht and Gabby Newton also worked hard through the midfield, while Alyssa Bannan and Sarah Hartwig were prominent up opposite ends.

From the first bounce it was clear the Metro side, led by Western Jets utility and potential Western Bulldogs father-daughter selection, Isabella Grant was up for the match. Grant herself booted two opening term goals – one of which came from a double 50-metre penalty after her opponent tackled her after mistakingly hearing the umpire call play-on. Despite the dominance of play, Metro still could only muster two goals from five scoring shots, before Isabella Simmons got one back against the flow. Just nine points up, and the game seemingly more in Metro’s control than the scoreline suggested, it took a few pieces of magic down the wing, and a flying shot from Alyssa Bannan just before the quarter time siren, for the ball to bounce past the diving arms of defender Millie Brown and bounce through for Metro’s third goal of the quarter as the siren rang out.

Brown was everywhere for the Country side in defence as she swallowed up a number of Metro forward entries, but was ultimately overwhelmed as Metro’s pressure all but locked the ball in their half for the second quarter. Country had just a couple of inside 50s in that second term, while Nell Morris-Dalton started to turn up the heat, spraying a set shot, just missing a snap and then arguably nailing the hardest shot of the attempts. Over the middle two quarters, Metro controlled play, with Bannan, McKenzie and Newton all impressing, including a great one-on-one goal to Morris-Dalton in the third term that saw her stay on her feet against Lucy McEvoy, win the ball and snap around her body to all but ice the game. It came after Shanara Notman converted a vital goal for the Country team, doing all she could leading up forward and making good on her set shot. For all of Metro’s dominance on the field, they finally had it on the scoreboard with a 44-point margin.

The final quarter looked like a different game to start with, as Country began to win more of the ball out of midfield and give its forwards opportunities to kick goals. Renee Saulitis finally got her chance with a bit of space and she weaved her magic not once, but twice, getting the ball over the top and using her calm, cool composure to slot two goals after a miss earlier in the game. Country cut the deficit back to less than 40 points, but another double 50-metre penalty to Grant – with an opponent getting in the protected area – saw her remarkably kick her third goal of the game, and her second from point-blank. Not to be outdone on the scoreboard, the most clinical play of the day came next with Oakleigh Chargers’ Nicola Xenos roving a tap and pumping the ball inside 50 to a contest. Bannan was the first to pick up the ball cleanly, evade an opponent and kick her third truly to match Grant. This time, for all of Country’s dominance, a purple patch by the Metro team saw them draw level for the quarter and enjoy a big win.

Metro had winners across the park, with McKenzie, Lagioia, Gutknect and Western Jets’ skipper Elisabeth Georgostathis all playing important roles through the midfield, while Sandringham Dragons’ skipper Molly Denahy Maloney played an underrated game through the middle quarters, intercepting a lot of ball through the midfield and half-forward to set up plays. Morris-Dalton and Bannan were the benficiaries up forward, while down back, Hartwig was sensational, knowing when to drop off the contest and stand a kick behind play ready for the quick Country clearance out of a wing stoppage. Despite the ball largely being camped up the other end, Hartwig and Isabelle Pritchard rebounded most of what came near them, and loom as a damaging duo not just this year, but next year as well.

For Country, Brown was absolutely sensational throughout the four quarters, often under siege on the last line, she and Murray Bushrangers’ teammate Sophie Locke were often the ones clearing the ball out of the back 50, while Tyanna Smith and Paige Sheppard provided some great run from half-back and through midfield. McEvoy unsurprisingly played a four-quarter game and showed intent laying some massive tackles on opponents as she tried to will the side over the line. Saulitis was another who stood out when given her chance going forward, while the likes of Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels middle-agers Maggie Caris and Simmons kept presenting around the ground. Ultimately though, Metro had too many winners across the park, and head up to Queensland full of confidence following a terrific victory over their Victorian Country counterparts.

VIC COUNTRY 1.0 | 1.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 (26)
VIC METRO 3.3 | 5.6 | 8.9 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

Vic Country: R. Saulitis (GWV) 2, I. Simmons (GWV), S. Notman (Gippsland)
Vic Metro: I. Grant (Western) 3, A. Bannan (Northern) 3, N. Morris-Dalton (Northern) 2, E. Georgostathis (Western), G. Newton (Northern)

ADC BEST:

Vic Country: M. Brown, L. McEvoy, P. Sheppard, T. Smith, R. Saulitis, M. Caris
Vic Metro: E. McKenzie, G. Lagioia, A. Bannan, S. Hartwig, G. Newton, I. Grant.

AFLW U18 Championships preview: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

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

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

VIC COUNTRY

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

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

1. Defence

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

2. Hardness at the ball

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

3. X-factor up forward

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

VIC METRO

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

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

1. Marks inside 50

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

2. Speed

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

3. Intercept marking

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

Draft Central Team of the Year: NAB League Girls

WITH so many impressive individuals performing across the NAB League Girls nine-week season, it was incredibly tough to pick our Draft Central Team of the Year for 2019. The Team of the Year is decided by the amount of Team of the Week nominations a player receives, with everyone in the team receiving between three and seven nominations for the year. There were a further 10 players who were unlucky to miss out on the team despite receiving three nominations, while another 18 players – 52 in total – received at least two nominations.

Three players received the highest amount of nominations, with Western Jets’ Elisabeth Georgostathis, Dandenong Stingrays’ Brooke Vernon and Calder Cannons’ Georgie Prespakis making our Team of the Week seven times. Georgostathis has been named captain of the side, having led the Jets in season 2019. Two other club captains – Geelong Falcons’ Lucy McEvoy and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Sophie Molan – as well as Falcons midfielder Paige Sheppard, received six nominations to make our 24-player squad.

It is a phenomenal effort to even have five nominations – more than half the possible games – and Sandringham Dragons duo, Sarah Hartwig and Alice Burke, Northern Knights duo Gabby Newton and Britney Gutknecht, Calder Cannons captain Georgia Patrikios, and Eastern Ranges tall Serena Gibbs all achieved that feat. In terms of those players with four nominations and thus automatically qualifying for the side are Stingrays’ key defender Zoe Hill, potential Collingwood father-daughter selection Tarni Brown, Gippsland Power defender Matilda Van Berkel, Murray Bushrangers’ captain Millie Brown, and Northern Knights middle-age duo Jess Fitzgerald and Ellie McKenzie.

Of the remaining six players chosen to make the side, there were Oakleigh Chargers duo Emily Harley and Gemma Lagioia, both of whom have been electrifying at times in an even team, top five leading goalkicker, Northern’s Nell Morris-Dalton, Geelong Falcons talls; competition leading goalkicker Mia Skinner and reliable defender Abbey Chapman, and Bendigo Pioneers tackling machine Brooke Hards. The emphasis for the remaining players with three nominations was to allow for top-agers to fill the side, but Hards’ efforts were that impressive – summed up by winning the Bendigo Pioneers’ Best and Fairest award – that she earned a spot in the side.

In terms of club spread, it is no surprise to see minor premiers Northern Knights with the most nominees, having five in the side, while reigning premiers Geelong Falcons had four. A number of sides had two each including finalists, Calder Cannons and Eastern Ranges, as well as Dandenong Stingrays, Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons, while Bendigo Pioneers, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets had one player each. In terms of the three emergencies, key defenders Kate Douglass (Bendigo) and Isabelle Pritchard (Western), and Murray midfielder Abby Favell were the next three in line for a spot in the team.

Eight players followed up from their Draft Central Team of the Year in 2018 with a second nomination, those being Knights, Newton, Gutknecht and McKenzie, as well as Georgostathis, Burke, McEvoy and Patrikios.