Tag: Sarah Dargan

U18 Girls season preview: Calder Cannons

NEW Calder Cannons Female Talent Manager, Russell Humphrey is buoyant about the future of the Cannons after a strong pre-season with plenty of standouts. After taking out the inaugural 2017 premiership with future AFL Women’s young guns, Chloe Molloy, Monique Conti and Sarah Dargan on the list, the Cannons had a lot of bottom-agers in 2018, winning only the two games but getting better with every match. Now with another season under their belts, the Cannons are expected to improve again and with plenty of Under 16s forcing their way into the line-up, the next few years are looking good for the Craigieburn-based side.

Humphrey said while new to the role, he was a familiar face around the club, having worked with the premiership-winning girls side in 2017, before assisting the boys last season.

“I was involved in the year before so 2017 when I coached the forward line, and then last year I was moved into a different role with the boys,” Humphrey said. “From afar obviously last season wasn’t as good as the year before. “I think we noticed and we’ve have rectified it with the shape of our bodies so you’ll notice this year hopefully. We’re a different shape; we’re a little bit taller, a little bit more athletic – the competition became like that.”

Humphrey said looking at the practice game against Western Jets, and the clash between Northern Knights and Sandringham Dragons, he felt the Cannons were in a good position.

“We had some games here on Sunday and I noticed we’re a lot closer to the other sides this year than we were last year, so we’re hoping that will help us get some results going our way. “Not that it’s a result-driven competition or things like that, but when you’re playing well that’s when you get a chance to get someone drafted. “The deeper we go in the season, if we can finish in the top four, and no doubt every other club is thinking the same thing, you give your players more of an opportunity, performing in front of recruiters and list managers and everything else that goes with it. “I think we’ll improve.”

This year, Madison Prespakis has joined Conti, Molloy and Dargan in the AFL Women’s competition and already showed why she was taken as the first Victorian metropolitan pick.

“She had a great year,” Humphrey said. “She had a good year the year before as well, we always knew she was a talent. “She’s proven that already in the three games she’s played at AFLW. “Much like Monique Conti and Chloe Molloy and even Sarah Dargan this year has really showed her improvement in the AFLW, which I find quite pleasing to see Sarah going so well. “Obviously we would have liked someone else get drafted but that didn’t happen. “Maybe this year we might get a couple, but Madi’s obviously doing the work and the reward is the way she is playing her AFLW footy at the moment which is fantastic. “Especially from our end.”

While the Cannons will be minus Prespakis in 2019, Humphrey hopes the ball magnet has left a legacy with the now top-age group. Humphrey said the Futures squad of Under 16s were already promising signs for the future.

“You hope that the older girls now being in the system for three years. They’ve gone through the system … and hopefully they can lead this next group coming though. I think every club will agree their under 16s are better than what their under 16s were two years ago and probably better than the under 16s were last year. That’s what I’ve found anyway.”

Stepping up into Prespakis’ shoes is never going to be easy, but AFL Women’s Academy member and All-Australian in her bottom-age year, Georgia Patrikios has been the clear standout over the past few years.

“I think that Georgia’s attributes and her willingness to improve over the three years shows her coachability, her understanding of what needs to be done, her skill up-skilling right across the board,” Humphrey said. “It gives her a great opportunity to be in the top five. “I think if it was an open draft she could go one or two. I’m not sure how that’s going to work next year.”

Humphrey said Patrikios has plenty of tricks that will attract AFL Women’s recruiters throughout the year.

“She does a couple of things that are little bit of a ‘wow factor’. She’ll get the ball out and not kick a high ball but kick a flat ball forward to their advantage which I think is how AFLW is going to head. They are going to look for players who can do that, similar to how the men do it. I think Georgia is on the right track for that.”

Having mixed between midfield and forward last year, Humphrey hopes to use Patrikios’ agility and pace as a run-and-carry player to create a “60-metre player”.

“I can see her playing both in the mid but on the wing as well,” Humphrey said. “I think she plays her best footy on the wing so she can use her agility to get out and her leg speed to get out. “I think that one of her major assets is her leg speed. “Being inside sometimes you don’t quite see that. “But on the outside if we can get it out to her quick enough, we know she’s going to carry it 20, we know she can kick it 40, so she becomes automatically a 60m player so if we can do that, for us that is a massive, massive bonus. “We may have missed that a little bit last year because we didn’t get it out as clean as we might have liked to, but hopefully this year we can.”

Other than Patrikios, Humphrey said the Cannons had a few other players to keep an eye on throughout the season.

Krstel Petrevski has got some good attributes,” he said. “She uses the ball well, she can get it … she needs to tidy up below her knees on ground balls, but she’s getting better at it, she just needs to keep improving. “Makeisha Muller is one we got from Gippsland last year who moved into the area. I think she’s draftable, she’s an X-factor player. “She’s worked really hard in the pre-season. “We’ve tracked her with the GPS pretty much the whole pre-season because she wanted that, she wanted to know how hard she was working.

“My smokey from our point of view is Alana Barba who can play in the middle, half-back and can go forward and probably even on the wing. “I see how hard she’s working, her kick’s not elite, but it’s better than okay. “Her leg speed and ability to get out of a pack is probably second to Patrikios at times. She seems to now understand that she’s got to run both ways … I think her playing down back has helped that too.

Felicity Theodore‘s another one who’s got good leg speed. “Her only downside may be her size, but apart from that, she’s in-and-under, she doesn’t get bumped off the ball a lot, she gets it a lot, her kicking needs a little bit more depth. “But having said that, the coaching staff have been working on that at training.”

Humphrey said the coaching staff was pleased with how the girls had prepared for the upcoming season, which begins on March 2 at RAMS Arena. The Cannons face Western Jets, a side they played on the weekend.

“The preparation so far has been pretty good,” Humphrey said. “They’ve bought in what Paul‘s (Tilley, head coach) tried to teach them and what all the coaching staff is trying to teach them, which is three quarters of the battle. “We had a practice match against Western on the weekend, I know they had a few girls out and we played everyone. “The coaching staff were happy with the way we played, so that was a bonus. “We played 18 (players) one quarter, 18 for a half and 18 for the last quarter, so it was a little bit different but we were all a bit closer to our list than what they are, I think they’re another week away and that’s okay.”

One thing to expect is plenty of Futures making their way into the Cannons squad, with Humphrey naming Tahlia Gillard – a 187cm centre half-back – and Georgie Prespakis – sister of Madison but with different attributes – among a host of Under 16s to watch this year.

“When we looked at our list this year, we looked at our under 16 girls as top-age players,” Humphrey said. “What are they going to be like in 2021? “How will they go there as top-age players rather than the now. “I know everyone says it, but you like to think of this Under 16 group we could get two or three drafted again. “Which is a possibility because it will be a bigger pool with other AFL clubs coming in other years.

“Our Under 16 group is a fairly talented group … if I was to have a guess, of the nine or 10 under 16s, eight could play Round 1. “Comfortably play Round 1. “We’re not going to go overboard in it, we’ll be smart about it. “We could quite easily have six under 16s play their first game in under 18 footy in Round 1 and be confident in them doing what they’ve shown at local level.”

Weekend wash-up: AFLW – Round 2

ROUND 2 of AFLW 2019 is done and dusted, with Melbourne and Adelaide entering the winners list for the first time this year. North Melbourne continued their dominant start to the season, while Collingwood struggled and Carlton were unlucky to come away with a loss to Adelaide. Three matches recorded high scores in Round 2, showing good signs for the rest of the season.

North Melbourne 7.6 (48) defeated GWS GIANTS 2.11 (23)
By: James Halley

North Melbourne continued its perfect start to the AFL Women’s, defeating GWS GIANTS by 25 points in treacherous conditions. Two weather delays could not stop the flag favourites from proving their worth. The midfield duo of Emma Kearney and Jess Duffin, alongside dominating ruck, Emma King led the way for the Kangaroos. The formidable trio will prove hard to beat deep into the season.

Alicia Eva kicked the opening goal of the match for the GIANTS, but once Jasmine Garner and Kate Gillespie-Jones found the big sticks for North Melbourne, the Roos maintained their lead for the rest of the match. A third quarter flurry from GIANT, Yvonne Bonner gave the Kangaroos a scare, however GWS did not capitalise on its opportunities, finishing the game with two goals and 11 behinds. At the final break, the GIANTS only trailed by eight points, giving them hope of snatching the match at the death. All hope was lost when Roos ruck, King was pushed forward early and kicked two quick goals proving too much for GWS defender, Louise Stephenson. Kangaroos’ captain, Kearney leads her team out in Tasmania against her former side, 2018 Premiers the Western Bulldogs next Friday night. GWS hosts Carlton in Blacktown next Saturday.

 

Collingwood 1.3 (9) defeated by Melbourne 3.8 (26)
By: Sophie Taylor

In gusty conditions Melbourne battled it out against traditional rivals, Collingwood at Victoria Park in Abbotsford, marking a historic day at the ground as it hosted a women’s game for the first time in park history. With over 7000 faithful turning up to see the two teams battle it out, the match was looking to be a big one.

Melbourne’s Harriet Cordner was the seventh Cordner and third-generation Melbourne player to take the field, marking the occasion with a win her family name is sure to be proud of. Ainsley Kemp was an exciting returnee to the Dees, having sat out the 2018 season with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

An inaccurate first term from both sides saw the scores sit at 2-all at the end of the first change. Though Melbourne had opportunities on goal and options forward, the side was kicking into the wind and unlucky on the scoreboard.
Collingwood were unlucky early, unable to capitalise on their opportunities inside 50, and losing Emma Grant to a suspected AC-joint injury midway through the first term.

Melbourne’s tight defence was commendable, with a constant body-on-body making it hard for the Pies to get boot to ball. The Magpies struggled with their forward structure throughout the game, having difficulty making it through Melbourne’s strong backline. However, a shining light for the Pies was Mikala Cann, providing a constant blockade on the wing and preventing Melbourne’s run downfield. Cann picked up 11 tackles, highest on field. Cross-coder, Ash Brazill was dominant for the losing side, proving her ability on the field picking up 23 touches and three tackles to her name, one of which stopped an opportunity at goal for Demon, Tegan Cunningham (five tackles, four marks).

The Dees were around every contest, but were unable to capitalise on their midfield performance with a goal until late in the second quarter, courtesy of co-captain and best on ground, Elise O’Dea. O’Dea was dominant in the match, picking up 26 disposals for the game with 18 by half time. Melbourne draftee, Tyla Hanks was impressive in her second game for the red and blue with 11 touches and a goal to her name, as well as a perfectly placed kick to tall, Lauren Pearce, setting up Melbourne’s second goal of the game.

Collingwood remained scoreless through the second and third term, despite constant pressure preventing Melbourne’s attack from running away with an easy win. The third quarter was highly contested, with neither team managing to get a goal on the board. The wind was once again not in the Dees’ favour, kicking three behinds for the quarter.

Karen Paxman looked dangerous early for the Dees, however finished out the match with four behinds to her name to go with her 18 touches. Sarah Rowe (eight tackles), Jaimee Lambert (seven tackles) and captain, Steph Chiocci (11 disposals, five tackles) were also effective for the Pies, getting around the ball at pivotal points of the match and making it difficult for Melbourne to take advantage of the midfield.

The Pies looked like a different side in the final term, smothering the ball to get as many opportunities forward as possible. With a three quarter time score of 0.2 (2), the Pies needed a goal to ensure they didn’t come away with the lowest AFLW score in the league’s three year history, finally managing a goal midway through the final term, courtesy of Sarah Dargan. Melbourne’s clean game play through the second half paved the way for the 17 point win, marking a historic occasion at Victoria Park.

Western Bulldogs 5.4 (34) defeated Geelong 2.4 (16)
By: Peter Williams

The night game between reigning premiers, Western Bulldogs, and newcomers, Geelong was expected to be a thrilling contest, and the final 18-point margin did not do the match justice. In a polar opposite to the earlier game at Victoria Park, both sides backed their running ability, while also winning one-on-ones in their defensive ends. Space opened up inside 50 at times for the likes of Phoebe McWilliams and Katie Brennan to run into and clunk marks for their respective sides. In fact it took just 110 seconds for McWilliams to get on the board much to the satisfaction of the visiting fans who an hour earlier witnessed the Bulldogs unfurling their 2018 premiership flag.

The Cats knew the Dogs would be a tougher challenge than the week before, especially under lights at Whitten Oval, and when Deanna Berry put on the after burners inside and open 50 to slam home the Dogs’ second right in front of the Footscray faithful, the crowd sensed the reigning premiers were starting to click. Bonnie Toogood put her hand up for a Goal of the Year nomination with a terrific snap under immense pressure, and then a longe-range conversion from co-captain, Ellie Blackburn had the Dogs up by 16 points at the main break.

Geelong debutant Georgia Clarke showed why she earned a spot in the team, playing strong in defence while drifting forward to be on the end of fellow draftees’ Denby Taylor and Olivia Purcell handballs to give the Cats a sniff early in the third. Less than two minutes later, Bulldogs debutant Aisling McCarthy kicked a goal and handed the Dogs a 16-point buffer again. McWilliams could have been the hero as she had two very gettable chances but squandered both, as did Bulldogs sharp shooter, Brennan. Neither team kicked a goal in the final term as the Dogs took out the game, ad the four points in a three-goal win.

Blackburn was unbelievable in leading her Bulldogs’ team through the midfield, bashing and crashing her way to 18 disposals, eight tackles and that crucial goal in the second term. Kirsty Lamb also had 18 touches, two marks and five tackles, while Monique Conti buzzed around for 19 disposals, two marks and five tackles. For the Cats, Meg McDonald had another inspired performance with 21 disposals and four marks, while Julia Crockett-Grills laid eight tackles to go with her 13 touches. Teenager, Purcell had 17 disposals, three marks and four tackles in the midfield, while VFL Women’s captain, Renee Garing led the way defensively with 12 tackles.

 

Carlton 7.2 (44) defeated by Adelaide 9.3 (57)
By: Sophie Taylor

After a less than perfect start to 2019, the Blues were looking to claim a position on the winners list in round two. Hosting interstaters, Adelaide at Ikon Park, the clash was looking to be an interesting one, with an intense start to the match setting the tone for the afternoon. The Blues certainly put up a fight on home turf, but unfortunately for the local fans, could not get the job done against the Crows’ ruthless forward line, going down by 13 points.

Though the Blues had a good run out of defence, there was no one forward to receive the ball allowing turnovers by a clinical and offence-driven Crows side. However, with the Blues relentlessly pressing forward, some goals were bound to break through the Crows’ backline, allowing for spurts of Carlton greatness up forward. Carlton took the lead midway through the second term, looking to be in control of the ball and maintaining a four-point lead come the main break. With an intense face off for the lead come half-time, the only score of the second term was a goal courtesy of Carlton’s Natalie Plane, who kicked two for the day.

A dominant third quarter effort by the Blues looked to seal the game, leading by 17 points midway through the third term. Seven goals were kicked in the third, with Adelaide forward and game breaker Stevie-Lee Thompson kicking two of her career-high four goals for the match in the third quarter. However 2017 premiers, Adelaide were not to be ruled out of the match, with late third quarter goals from captain Lauren Philips and returnee, Sarah Perkins taking the Crows back into the lead ahead of the final quarter.

A three goals to one burst in the final quarter gave Adelaide their second win of the season, with Anne Hatchard and Philips steaming home to finish with 22 and 21 disposals respectively. Crows midfielder, Ebony Marinoff came away with a confidence-boosting eight tackles. Blues’ fan favourite, Tayla Harris was a shock late omission from the side, replaced by newbie Rhiannon Watt on her AFLW debut. Madison Prespakis showed off her footy smarts, picking up a casual 20 disposals and a goal in only her second game of AFLW, while Kerryn Harrington (20 disposals) and Shae Audley (eight tackles) were also impressive in the loss.

Despite Carlton’s hungry four quarter effort, they could not beat the efficient Crows side on a mission, losing by a margin much less telling than the intensity of the game itself.

 

Fremantle 10.7 (67) defeated Brisbane 6.4 (59)
By: Brandon Hutchinson

Local fans were treated to a thriller on Sunday evening as Fremantle secured their first win against Brisbane since the league’s launch in 2017. The match opened in Brisbane’s favour as they outscored Fremantle three goals to one.

Fremantle found their footing in the second, keeping Brisbane scoreless and adding three majors to the board. They went into the main break with a 13-point lead and multiple goal kickers, dominating the overhead contest, disputed and firing hard off momentum.

Brisbane’s Jess Wuetschner opened the third with her second goal, but Fremantle quickly replied with a penetrating run into their forward 50 and a subsequent goal from Ashley Sharp. Ebony Antonio followed up with a second soon after and increased their lead to 14 as they opened the final quarter. Despite kicking multiple goals for the first time since the first quarter, Brisbane were greatly outscored by Fremantle in the closer, kicking two goals to four.

First year player, Sabreena Duffy added two more goals to her stat sheet in an outstanding performance for Fremantle. Teammates, Gabby O’Sullivan and Sharp were also among their multiple goal kickers, each having two apiece. Dana Hooker followed up a phenomenal Round 1 performance with a team-high 24 disposals and five tackles. Kiara Bowers also impressed (15 disposals, four marks and five tackles) alongside Kara Donnellan (14 disposals, three marks and three tackles).

Nat Exon (15 disposals, two marks and four tackles) and Wuetschner (nine disposals and three marks) also kicked two apiece for Brisbane. Alexandra Anderson (26 disposals, one goal, four marks and five tackles) dominated the midfield while Kate Lutkins (13 disposals and six marks) remained a pillar with excellent disposal efficiency (77 per cent).

Number Crunching: AFLW – Round 1

THERE are plenty of individual stats to put under the microscope after Round 1 of the Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) competition, with a handful of players starring on the sheet across multiple lines – including a gun draftee, former rising star, and high-profile tradee.

Adelaide’s Ebony Marinoff was the talk of the town after her round-leading 23 disposal performance in a losing effort against the ‘Dogs. It was an incredible game from the hard-working midfielder, who topped the fantasy charts at 107 points having also laid 11 tackles and spread her load at almost an even 50 per cent between contested and uncontested possessions. Not to be outdone by the former rising star, Geelong’s number one draft pick, Nina Morrison starred in the season-opener to be the equal-second leading disposal winner for the round with 22. The midfielder showed her balance in the craft with 14 contested possessions and six clearances, while also providing her trademark run with three inside 50’s. Meanwhile, Emily Bates and Ally Anderson had 22 disposals each in the Lions’ midfield to match Morrison as they overcame GWS.

Anderson’s 14 contested possessions were enough for equal-second best alongside Morrison, but Melbourne’s Karen Paxman was the boss of the engine room for Round 1, with a whopping 18 contested possessions from her 21 disposals at a rate of 85 per cent. Stepping up in the absence of stalwart, Daisy Pearce, Paxman also earned a round-high nine clearances to lead in the stat from Fremantle’s Dana Hooker (eight) and Adelaide superstar, Erin Phillips (seven). While Paxman and co won the contested ball in spades, a current and a former Magpie won all of their touches in the clinches. Collingwood’s Sarah Dargan (11 disposals) and Kangaroo ruck recruit, Emma King (10 disposals) both had contested possession rates of 100 per cent in impressively gritty displays. Geelong’s Maddy Keryk was the only player bar-Paxman with over 15 disposals to also have had a rate of over 80 per cent contested possessions. On the other end of the scale, Bates and new-Roo Jess Duffin won the most uncontested ball with 13 apiece, with Duffin’s teammate, Emma Kearney working in tandem for her tally of 10 – matched by GWS draftee Alyce Parker on debut.

The Fremantle duo of Hooker and Kiara Bowers topped the tackle count with 12 each as they put the clamps on Melbourne, with Hooker’s hard work also translating to ball-winning as she had 15 disposals. But it was again the efforts of Marinoff which attracted the headlines, as the premiership Crow laid 11 tackles to bring her career tally to 169 – the only AFLW player to have cracked the ton at the time of writing. Despite all that, Marinoff was amazingly still down on her 2018 tackle average of 11.7. In a sign of things to come, Morrison (eight tackles) was also not far behind as the teenager with the highest count.

Moving from the ground to the air, Lauren Spark reeled in the most marks with her effort of 11 – finding space well to have 13 kicks amongst her 14 disposals (nine uncontested). Spark’s Bulldogs teammate, Ellie Blackburn had six but was narrowly beaten out to second-best honours by Duffin’s seven. She may have only had three, but Carlton’s dynamic forward star, Tayla Harris took an absolute screamer to claim mark of the round. Melbourne’s Lauren Pearce dominated the air in a different fashion with her round-high of 32 hit-outs, while Giant, Erin McKinnon won 31 taps. Carlton’s tall duo of Breann Moody and Alison Downie combined for 29 against the otherwise dominant King in their loss to the ‘Roos.

Brisbane goalsneak Jess Wuetschner bagged the highest goal tally for the week, booting three of the Lions’ four goals as seven others claimed hauls of two. Amongst the group of multiple goal kickers was returning Bulldog gun, Katie Brennan – who came up clutch for her side – as well as arguably the player of the round, King. The worst offenders in front of goal collectively were the Crows with 1.11, however Phillips was the only player in that game to miss more than once. She was not alone though as eight others registered multiple behinds in their respective outings – four of them from the Kangaroos/Carlton game.

Future is bright for women’s football

IF anyone ever had any doubts about the future of AFL Women’s, then they need look no further than this week’s V/Line Cup. The best 14-16 year-olds from across regional and rural Victoria tackled each other in Gippsland in the annual tournament held at Moe, Morwell and Traralgon. Walking away from the event, I was blown away by the quality of the competitors, not just in terms of skill development, but in terms of game smarts and decision making.

Put it down to coaching, natural development or other factors, the women’s game is growing, fast. Having watched the inaugural TAC Cup Girls competition in 2017, you had your absolute standouts like Chloe Molloy and Monique Conti tearing it up for Calder Cannons, and everyone had been talking about Isabel Huntington for years. Then there were the next group of talented players that made their way onto AFL Women’s lists such as Maddy Guerin, Sarah Dargan, Iilish Ross, Bridie Kennedy and Georgia Gee, plus others.

Fast forward 12 months, and attending the TAC Cup Girls competition in 2018, I attended 26 matches in the nine round season, and instead of having two or three unbelievable players, that had grown into double figures – that is, of players who could seriously impact at senior level almost immediately. Geelong Falcons duo Nina Morrison and Olivia Purcell were outstanding against their peers, and had no troubles finding the ball at higher levels. Mikala Cann is a perfect example of how players from other sports can adapt in such a short amount of time, while Emerson Woods joined Cann as a premiership player at senior level.

Even at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, having witnessed all the games on the Gold Coast, you saw those players who had starred at TAC Cup Girls level, go up to face the best players from across the country. Talents like Alyce Parker, McKenzie Dowrick, Nikki Gore, Nat Grider, and Chloe and Libby Haines showed why they had been held in such high regard in their respective states. All of the above earned invites to the National Draft Combine.

But what was just as pleasing at those championships, was the development of the bottom-age players who shone through. It is hard to believe the likes of Georgia Patrikios, Gabby Newton, Lucy McEvoy, Lily Postlethwaite, Montana McKinnon, Mia King and Mikayla Bowen should all be running around on the Gold Coast for their respective states again next year. Remarkably, the 2020 draft crop already has names that are worthy of representing their state, as Abbey Dowrick, Abbie Ballard, Netty Garlo and Zimmorlei Farquharson were among those double bottom-agers who still matched it with more experienced players. Add in the likes of Ellie McKenzie, Isabelle Pritchard, Renee Saulitis and Tyanna Smith who were all impressive for the Victorian Under 16s outfits, and the foundations for the future are certainly there. An extra element will be the possible father-daughter selections, with Abbie McKay (Carlton) being the first possible case study this year, while Tarni Brown (Collingwood) and Alice Burke (St Kilda) loom as two more.

While we will go into more detail about the V/Line Cup recap next week, the overall standard of the competition was arguably equal to or even better than the 2017 TAC Cup competition. Or in other words, the players are two to three years more advanced than their predecessors. In the Geelong Falcons game against Bendigo Pioneers, there were two players that were worth highlighting even early on in the game. In one instance, a player was against two opponents just inside 50 and the easiest option would have been to bring the ball out and cause a forward stoppage. Instead, she tapped the ball in front of her, not taking possession, but maintaining speed, and kept dribbling it ahead of her pursuing opponents, then without even taking possession, managed to kick it off the ground into the goal square, where a teammate soccered it through.

The second example was even better, and exemplified the game sense that players have developed over time. A player had the ball tight against the boundary line under pressure not far from the behind post. In year’s gone by, regardless of competition, most young players, especially at the age where goals are usually the only statistical measure you can brag about to your mates on the league website, would blaze away and go for the miracle snap. With so many opposition players inside 50, it would have been the easy option, and no-one would have blamed her for doing so. Instead, she calmly assessed her options and spotted a teammate amongst the chaos about 25m out, sending a nice kick to her advantage, setting up an easy shot on goal. Without being their live, you do not see these things, but it is little moments like that, which make all the difference.

Another example, just to show it was not just one game, was on the second day when a Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy (GWV Rebels region) player won the ball at half-back. She won the ball in defence, had an opponent chasing her from a 45-degree angle to close her down, and backed her speed to take her on and get around her. She did just that, but looking ahead, the opposition had blocked up the easiest option along the wing. She would have to kick long to a contest, probably outnumbered. Instead she briefly glanced inside and in one of the toughest kicks to do, managed to hit that kick around her body to the defensive 50 where a teammate marked, and not only was it an effective kick, but it opened up the corridor, and the game, with the opponents already set in running towards the wing.

Aside from the few examples, there was more contested marking, more protecting of ball drops and ground balls, more fend-offs, more deft taps to teammates. Areas in which players generally do not always think of as first options. But the past week, it was happening more and more. There is no doubt there has been some serious critics of women’s football, and no doubt that will continue, but if you can stop and look hard enough, you do not have to look too far to see the game is blossoming, and I for one, am excited for what 2019 and beyond holds.

Prespakis overcomes initial pressure for impressive top-age year

THERE are plenty of talented players who have followed the Youth Girls pathways, but the name Madison Prespakis is one that has been frequently mentioned within the pathways. With accolades that include TAC Cup Girls Best and Fairest, two-time Vic Metro Most Valuable Player, joint overall Most Valuable Player at the National Under 18 Championships and Calder Cannons Best and Fairest – all of that coming in the past 18 months, Prespakis is building a CV that is equal to any junior footballer, boy or girl. But just where did it all begin for the talented Cannons captain?

“It all really started when I was about four years old,” Prespakis said. “I started playing Auskick and I was always going down there and hanging out with all the boys and some of the girls who were playing. “I started from there and then when I was seven, I went and started playing Under 9s for Romsey Football Club with the boys and I think my dad really got me into footy from there. “He was a big footballer when he was young and he loved footy and I think the pathway I’m going, I’m trying to be that one step ahead of him. “I think my dad’s had the biggest influence on me and after starting Auskick and junior footy I just haven’t looked back, I’m just looking ahead to future now.”

With the passion for football always around her in the household, Prespakis said there were very few moments where she was not analysing some part of her footballing life.

“There’s not really that describes football to me, it’s kind of everything to me really,” she said. “When I go to school in the morning and all that, I don’t think about anything else throughout the day, I just think about what I’m going to do at footy training tonight and who we’re playing on the weekend and things like that. “For me, I just love footy and there’s nothing that would not make me not love it.”

In the two years of the TAC Cup Girls, Prespakis has experienced both the highs of a premiership, and the rebuilding stage in 2018, leading a number of talented bottom-agers this season.

“It’s been a lot different having a younger side and obviously being the top-age, one of the top-age girls, for me, I’ve found it a little bit hard at the start of the year,” Prespakis said. “I felt a little bit of pressure at the start of the year because we were such a young side, but to get the opportunity to captain the girls, I really took on board and I really took that opportunity well and for those girls I think for them, to have a role model in myself and a few other of the top-age girls was something for them really special to have for the first year so when they go on they can hopefully be role models to younger girls. “I think as well, not so much on-field, but off-field having a younger side the girls just gelled better. “Everyone was friends and as soon as we got onto the field, everyone just wanted to improve and hopefully by the end of the year we’d win a few games. “By the end of the year we did, we showed improvement. “We did win two games overall, but we did bring it up to top sides and I think the girls are really proud of themselves throughout the year. “Obviously we didn’t get wins on the scoreboard, but we got individual wins as a team, so that was the highlight.”

Prespakis has as much humility as she does natural talent, and for the tough onballer, winning the Vic Metro MVP in her bottom-age year was a learning curve in regards to external noise.

“Yeah for me, obviously I wasn’t expecting awards like that to be won at Nationals last year, I wasn’t going into that thinking that,” Prespakis said. “Then coming out of that, there was a lot of pressure I found on myself. “I did have to try and deal with it after a while because there was a lot of speculation in the media and that sort of stuff, so I unfollowed a lot of pages to get away from that because it was putting a lot of stress on me in my pre-season and how I have to perform this year. “So going into Nationals there has been that bit of speculation as well, coming off with that award last year, but like I said I just don’t put pressure on myself. “I don’t think about that stuff, i just think about the team things.”

The Vic Metro captain had put expectations to the back of her mind ahead of this year’s AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, so much so she was just taking it one step at a time.

“(The) goal this year is probably hopefully make the squad,” Prespakis said. “Just wait for that to be announced, and if so, head off to Gold Coast and then just play good footy. “(I) don’t really put too much pressure on myself or anything like that, just play good footy.”

Unsurprisingly, Prespakis did more than just make the squad, she shared the captaincy, and took out both the Vic Metro and tournament MVP awards, standing out across the midfield and going forward when required. Across all levels, Prespakis felt more prepared for what was coming, as did the other girls on her respective teams.

“It’s definitely lifted,” Prespakis said. “I remember the last few years it’s definitely lifted heaps. “The girls know what to expect when they come into pre-season and they know how to deal with pre-season, get themselves fit and right for the games. “Even VFL and all that, the girls are just getting better every year and the standard’s just lifting and lifting, it’s really good for female footy.”

Prespakis also stood out against the senior players in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, learning a lot at Melbourne Uni and being named in the best every game she played.

“I loved it, something I can’t wait to do again,” she said. “I’ve trained with them for the last couple of years in that team has been great. “Learning off some of the best like Emma Kearney, Ellie Blackburn, all those sorts of girls has helped me be a better footballer. “I think I adapted well to the bigger bodies, but definitely a lot of room for improvement but I can’t wait to keep playing senior footy.”

Last season the Calder Cannons had three players drafted – Chloe Molloy, Monique Conti and Sarah Dargan – all of whom tasted AFL Women’s action in season 2018, with Molloy taking out the Rising Star award, while Conti was best on ground in the grand final.

“I definitely went to a few games and watched either Sarah, Chloe or Monique play to support them after playing with them for a few years,” Prespakis said. “Watching them for a few years, it was just crazy to think I was playing with them last year and look where they are, playing AFLW. “I definitely speak to Monique more about the way she balances. “I just watch the way she balances both her basketball and footy and she did Year 12 last year as well. “If she can do it, then I suppose I can balance it to, she’s a good athlete and someone that I look up to in that perspective.”

Prespakis described her key strengths as her power through stoppages and her kicking – something that was evident in season 2018 across all competitions.

“Some of my strengths are my actual strength, I’m a pretty powerful player, I’ve got a lot of strength in me,” Prespakis said. “I work hard, I like to think i work hard running both ways, doing anything to lift the team. “Room for improvement obviously just keep working on fitness, overall fitness, getting myself right for every game, recovering right. “Just keep improving that the coaches say, but definitely a strength for me is my disposal and power through packs.”

Like most girls, Prepakis has balanced her football with study and work, something she has got the hang of the past few years. With October’s National AFL Women’s Draft approaching, Prespakis is hoping to live out her ultimate dream.

“I was actually talking to my parents about it and ever since I was a little girl, I said I wanted to play AFL footy and now that us girls have that pathway, we have that spot in AFL footy, it’s definitely a dream and if my name does get called out on the draft day, it will probably be the most overwhelming thing,” Prespakis said. “I will just be so excited for a start.”

Team Selection: VFLW – Round 4

ROUND four sees many TAC Cup Girls stars come into line-ups for their first ever stint in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s. The Western Bulldogs, Williamstown, Casey and Essendon are the teams without wins at the moment and would be keen to get on the board this weekend. 

 

MELBOURNE UNI  v. NT THUNDER

Round 4 – Saturday, May 26, 11:50AM
Avalon Airport Oval (Chirnside Park), Werribee

Melbourne Uni take on NT Thunder to kick off round four. Coming off the bye, Melbourne Uni have made no team changes with all players well rested after their round three bye. Calder Cannons’ jet Madison Prespakis has been named as the 23rd player and will no doubt be one to watch throughout the season.

On the other hand, Thunder have made seven changes to their side. They have called upon five debutants to take to the field including Sally Riley, Kylie Duggan, Jemma Iacono, Sophia Mauboy and Sue Nalder. Also pulling on the Thunder jumper for the second time this season will be Adelaide AFLW players, Sophie Armitstead and Marijana Rajcic. However, the Thunder do lose Palmerston Magpies talent, Janet Baird. Lucy Adam, Michelle Ellis, Tahlia Holtze, Rhiannon Metcalfe and Deni Varnhagen will all be rested while Eloise Jones is out with illness.

Melbourne Uni

B: 20. L. Belza, 29. K. Klatt, 11. P. Cordes
HB: 6. E. Keaney, 27. J. Anderson, 24. S. Wilson
C: 19. L.  Ahrens, 15. E.  Kearney, 44. A.  Runnalls
HF: 1. S. Abbatangelo, 9. K. Price, 45. M. McDonald
F: 13. R. Green, 28. A. Dalley, 2. H. Ibrahim
R: 41. K. Gillespie-Jones, 43. L. Munday, 7. A. Riddell
Int: 12. M. Cantwell, 25. S. De Bortoli, 32. I. Milford, 18. A. Tupper
Emg: 10. A. Price, 35. M. Shone, 36. L. Watkin, 16. T. Watson
23P: 46. M. Prespakis

 

NT Thunder

B: 16. S. Armitstead, 37. S. Allan, 19. J. Iacono
HB: 23. S. Mauboy, 20. J. Hewett, 13. L. Roberts
C: 10. S.  Barnett, 26. C.  Randall, 24. G.  Bevan
HF: 5. M. Roberts, 29. M. Rajcic, 17. E. Swanson
F: 8. S. Riley, 11. J. Hickey, 31. J. Sedunary
R: 25. J. Allan, 3. A. Foley, 28. R. Forth
Int: 12. J. Anderson, 43. K. Duggan, 44. M. Johnston, 4. S. Nalder
Emg: 18. T. Holtze
23P: 35. T. Thorn

In: M. Rajcic, J. Iacono, S. Riley, K. Duggan, S. Armitstead, S. Mauboy, S. Nalder
Out: M. Ellis, D. Varnhagen, R. Metcalfe, J. Baird, E. Jones, L. Adam

 

DAREBIN  v. CASEY DEMONS

Round 4 – Saturday, May 26, 12pm
Bill Lawry Oval, Northcote

Darebin also go into round four unchanged after its bye last weekend, however have named Eastern Ranges defender Lauren Szigeti as the Falcons’ 23rd player. Casey Demons have made a few changes after their narrow loss to the Saints in round three. Lorianne Lowerson, Sally Fyfield, and Dandenong Stingrays captain, Jordyn Allen have secured spots in the round four side while Lucy Rutter, Georgia McLean and Stingrays forward and AFLW Academy member, Brooke Struylaart will be awaiting their opportunity, named as emergencies. The Demons have named star defender, Katherine Smith out alongside fellow Melbourne teammates, Jasmine Grierson and Aliesha Newman.

Darebin

B: 32. G. Colvin, 14. M. McDonald, 35. L. Skipper
HB: 2. N. Callinan, 27. S. Hogan, 15. A. Lister
C: 26. T.  Olcorn, 9. M.  Eastman, 4. K.  Paxman
HF: 31. E. Gardner, 43. H. Mouncey, 11. K. Tyndall
F: 29. S. Normington – Dickens, 22. G. Hammond, 17. S. Simpson
R: 40. L. Pearce, 8. N. Exon, 20. M. Guerin
Int: 37. J. Bertoni, 44. S. Fairchild, 1. E. Honybun, 7. L. Mithen
Emg: 49. R. Hibbert, 48. L. Jacobs, 28. A. Morrow
23P: 46. L. Szigeti

 

Casey Demons

B: 21. H. Cordner, 27. A. Harrison, 16. C. Sheriff
HB: 38. J. Allen, 11. L. Duryea, 34. D. Guttridge
C: 4. C.  Emonson, 8. M.  Tatham, 25. M.  Shevlin
HF: 1. R. Guglielmino, 29. E. Zanker , 6. A. McDonough
F: 22. K. Guttridge, 18. K. Bentvelzen , 15. S. Phillips
R: 14. T. Orgill, 10. K. Hore, 5. S. Poke
Int: 44. N. Fullwood, 48. S. Fyfield, 9. A. Johnson, 37. L. Lowerson
Emg: 30. A. Marshall, 12. G. McLean, 33. L. Rutter, 49. B. Struylaart
23P: 3. R. Clayton

In: L. Lowerson, S. Fyfield, J. Allen, L. Rutter, G. McLean, B. Struylaart
Out: A. Newman, K. Smith, J. Grierson

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS v. COLLINGWOOD

Round 4 – Saturday, May 26, 2:00pm
Victoria University Whitten Oval, Footscray

The Western Bulldogs, who are also coming off last weeks bye, have followed suit with Darebin and Melbourne Uni, naming an unchanged side. Their opposition will be looking for their third win of the season after last week’s pumping against Richmond. Collingwood AFLW defender, Sarah D’Arcy will be a big out for the Magpies, however the addition of Collingwood’s AFLW vice-captain, Brittany Bonnici should bring experience back to the side. Collingwood also look to bring in Bianca Jones, Grace Knox, Ally Bild, as well as Oakleigh Chargers’ pair Hannah McLaren and Daisy Bateman in place of Paris Davey and AFLW players, Ruby Schleicher and Sarah Dargan.

Western Bulldogs

B: 18. E. Birch, 30. A. Tessari, 9. T. Dinuccio
HB: 15. R. Ashley, 13. L. Bailey, 38. C. O’Brien
C: 25. R.  Gastin, 21. B.  Hunt, 34. E.  Mackay
HF: 31. A. Gunn, 12. J. Francke, 10. S. Jolly
F: 1. B. Lochland, 47. N. McMahon, 41. A. Scott
R: 24. K. Rennie, 33. B. White, 16. N. Ferres
Int: 49. L. Butler, 5. R. Martinuzzo, 42. N. Paul, 48. A. Rooth
Emg: 14. E. Gamble, 46. T. Moss, 37. L. Murphy
23P: 27. E. Muller

 

Collingwood

B: 22. S. Casey, 47. J. Edwards, 52. N. Hales
HB: 93. V. Laloifi, 72. K. Lee, 61. A. Malander
C: 49. S.  Alexander, 50. G.  Buchan, 13. J.  Lambert
HF: 73. G. Biedenweg-Webster, 8. B. Bonnici, 54. H. Grubb
F: 57. G. Knox, 77. C. Leighton, 51. G. Ploegsma
R: 11. E. Hynes, 63. P. Nash, 28. H. Whitford
Int: 65. E. Browning, 81. B. Jones, 99. S. Marsh, 67. H. McLaren
Emg: 48. A. Bild , 88. M. Brown, 53. R. Grant, 92. S. King
23P: 66. D. Bateman

In: B. Jones, B. Bonnici, G. Knox, D. Bateman, A. Bild , H. McLaren
Out: P. Davey, S. Dargan, S. D’Arcy, R. Schleicher

 

GEELONG CATS v. CARLTON

Round 4 – Saturday, May 26, 4:30pm
GMHBA Stadium, Geelong

After last weeks big win against Williamstown, the Cats have made a number of changes to their list, bringing in Madison Maguire, Hannah Mangan and Cassie Blakeway. GWV Rebels defender, Georgia Clarke has been named as 23rd player, replacing Bianca Cheever. Lara Williams, Emily Ramsay and Maddison Janssen have also been named out for round four.

Carlton have made six bold changes to their line-up. The biggest of them all is perhaps Gippsland Power co-captain, Tyla Hanks making her debut for the side. She has been part of the AFLW Academy and will hopefully bring the Blues the class they missed against Hawthorn last week. Also coming in is newly appointed vice-captain, Katelyn Cox and AFLW players, Sarah Hosking, Kerryn Harrington and Lauren Brazzale. Jorja Borg has also been recalled to the side as 23rd player.

Geelong Cats

B: 26. R. Pearce, 44. R. Goring, 35. K. Woodroffe
HB: 34. A. McDonald, 25. E. Coventry, 10. L. Taylor
C: 4. C.  Blakeway, 12. R.  Garing, 3. H.  Burchell
HF: 23. I. Currenti, 2. D. Orr, 21. E. Oliver
F: 36. E. Dhamarrandji, 8. K. Darby, 32. A. Habib
R: 24. M. McMahon, 30. R. Cranston, 7. M. Clifford
Int: 28. M. Fedele, 13. M. Fogas, 18. M. Maguire, 17. H. Mangan
Emg: 37. T. Andree-Jansz, 20. L. Brancatisano, 11. M. Klingbeil
23P: 41. G. Clarke

In: M. Klingbeil , M. Maguire, G. Clarke, T. Andree-Jansz, H. Mangan, C. Blakeway, L. Brancatisano
Out: E. Ramsay,  M. Janssen,  B. Cheever,  L. Williams

 

Carlton

B: 40. K. Harvey, 9. K. Harrington, 24. R. Hicks
HB: 2. M. Keryk, 5. L. Brazzale, 90. B. Walker
C: 55. C.  Dalton, 27. K.  Cox, 45. R.  King
HF: 20. C. Bromage, 36. C. Moody, 37. B. Schultz
F: 41. K. Cunico, 3. D. Vescio, 15. I. Gietzmann
R: 16. B. Moody, 10. S. Hosking, 38. L. Arnell
Int: 82. N. Burns, 30. T. Hanks, 42. C. Hardeman, 11. J. Hosking
Emg: 35. S. Li, 17. T. Lucas-Rodd, 32. N. Plane, 31. K. Shierlaw
23P: 50. J. Borg

In: S. Hosking, T. Hanks, L. Brazzale, K. Cox, K. Harrington, J. Borg
Out: C. Williams, S. Last

 

SOUTHERN SAINTS v. ESSENDON

Round 4 – Sunday, May 27, 11:30am
Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Sandringham

The Saints and Essendon will take to Trevor Barker Beach Oval this Sunday, and both teams have named a few changes. After their clutch win to the Demons last week, the Saints have named two outs including Sophie Bolding and Jennifer Vissenjoux. Sandringham Dragons duo, Eleanor Brown and captain, Jemma Owen have been named to fill their shoes at their home ground, and will be joined by Eastern Ranges midfielder, Gabriella De Angelis in the line-up. Dandenong Stingrays defender, Shelley Heath has been named as an emergency. 

Essendon’s ins include an exciting TAC Cup Girls product in Oakleigh Chargers ruck, Bridie Winbanks. Winbanks has been named as the 23rd player and would be hopeful of a debut at Sandringham. However, there is a massive out in the side with key forward, Danielle Ponter taking to the sidelines.

Southern Saints

B: 11. T. Annear, 14. I. Quintal, 26. A. Ryan
HB: 34. S. Casey, 38. S. Karlson, 17. L. Olsen
C: 40. M.  Maitland, 2. A.  Brown, 31. G.  Walker
HF: 12. J. Hull, 15. T. Bohanna, 21. D. Lawrence
F: 27. K. Macqueen, 13. C. Munn, 33. J. Owen
R: 28. R. Watt, 8. A. Drennan, 32. S. Johnson
Int: 35. G. De Angelis, 24. K. Ripari, 22. D. Smith, 7. M. Supple
Emg: 49. A. Allsopp, 43. S. Heath, 9. S. Long, 16. K. Thompson
23P: 39. E. Brown

In: E. Brown, J. Owen, G. De Angelis, K. Thompson, S. Heath, S. Long
Out: S. Bolding,  J. Vissenjoux

 

Essendon

B: 14. J. Barker, 16. L. Morecroft, 15. L. Caruso
HB: 27. A. Morcom, 7. K. Hicks, 25. R. Neaves
C: 44. M.  Collier, 8. H.  Bullas, 46. C.  Ugle
HF: 18. K. Heil, 47. A. Ward, 6. A. Quigley
F: 4. N. Hardy, 12. B. Kearney, 35. V. Moreau
R: 30. S. Nalder, 9. L. Williams, 20. J. Anwyl
Int: 22. N. MacDonald, 26. A. Madden, 37. I. Malliaras, 1. J. Trend
Emg: 49. E. Bult, 40. G. Golds, 21. K. McFadyen, 28. C. Portlock
23P: 19. B. Winbanks

In: G. Golds, E. Bult, C. Portlock, K. McFadyen, B. Winbanks
Out: D. Ponter

 

WILLIAMSTOWN v. RICHMOND

Round 4 – Sunday, May 27, 2pm
Williamstown Football Ground, Williamstown

After three winless rounds, Williamstown will be hungry for the win this week and they have brought in some fresh talent to take on the Tigers. Maddison James, Jessica Kile, Kaitlin Smith and Sharni Dixon will miss out this week, leaving room for Georgia Harris, Stacey Cross and Rebecca Dardengo. On the AFLW side of things, we’ll see new North Melbourne duo, Jenna Bruton and Jasmine Garner return to the line-up. The side also has no shortage of TAC Cup Girls talent with Bendigo Pioneers captain, Megan Williamson and GWS forward, Sophie Van De Heuvel making their debut for the Seagulls.

Richmond have made four changes in the lead up to their contest against Williamstown. Ruck, Jenna Colwell and Bethany Lynch have been named out while Courtney Wakefield, Grace Bibby and Collingwood AFLW talent, Amelia Barden will pull on the yellow and black guernsey. 

Williamstown

B: 19. E. Meade, 10. B. Hateley, 34. J. Reid
HB: 3. S. Murphy-Burke, 1. R. Dardengo, 32. B. Stevens
C: 17. S.  Chapman, 13. N.  Wallace, 2. J.  Duffin
HF: 16. A. Cameron, 8. C. Portelli, 6. S. Cross
F: 25. J. Garner, 12. G. Harris, 22. M. Lowe
R: 9. R. Achampong, 44. I. Porter, 4. E. Paterno
Int: 35. J. Bruton, 26. J. Heard, 20. S. Seabrook, 33. S. Van De Heuvel
Emg: 15. J. Malouf, 30. A. Melnikas, 24. A. Saxton, 27. L. Suleiman
23P: 36. M. Williamson

In: A. Melnikas, G. Harris, M. Williamson, J. Bruton, S. Cross, J. Garner, S. Van De Heuvel, R. Dardengo
Out: M. James,  J. Kile,  K. Smith,  S. Dixon

 

Richmond

B: 84. L. Bieniara, 77. J. Hocking, 69. E. Burry
HB: 73. L. Davie, 63. J. Graham, 70. E. Findlay
C: 60. K.  Dempsey, 76. E.  Ross, 55. C.  Wakefield
HF: 53. K. Dixon, 64. E. Gunn, 56. E. Hogan
F: 66. A. Barden, 79. L. Tesoriero, 86. N. Clarke
R: 88. P. Monahan, 83. J. Gardner, 52. J. Kennedy
Int: 82. G. Bibby, 80. J. Louttit, 62. T. Muller, 59. A. Woodward
Emg: 74. G. Fisher, 81. E. George, 57. E. King, 78. V. Tonin
23P: 89. G. Deller

In: C. Wakefield , G. Fisher, E. King, E. George, A. Barden, N. Clarke, G. Bibby, G. Deller
Out: J. Colwell, L. Stephenson, C. Musico, B. Lynch

BYE – HAWTHORN

Weekend previews: VFLW – Round 4

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season rolls along into round four with a number of huge games throughout the weekend. The Hawks enjoy the bye after a huge win over Carlton, helping further establish them as league leaders. The Thunder, Cats and Pies all look to build on impressive starts, while the Bombers and Seagulls desperately try to notch up their first wins.

 

Melbourne Uni vs NT Thunder

Saturday May 26, 11:50AM, Avalon Airport Oval

The NT Thunder sent another huge message last week in its demolition of the Bombers, moving to 2-0 for the season with both wins being dominant. Terrific performances from captain, Angela Foley with 28 possessions and two goals, alongside Emma Swanson, who also added two goals herself, contributed to the big win in Darwin. The Thunder look to continue its unbelievable run against a rested and ready Melbourne Uni, who is fresh off the bye. The Mugars will need a huge game from AFLW MVP winner and North Melbourne recruit, Emma Kearney through the middle of the ground if they wish to stop the prolific offence of the Thunder and improve on their 1-1 beginning to the season.

 

Darebin vs Casey Demons

Saturday May 26, 12 Midday, Bill Lawry Oval

The Demons come off a disappointing loss to the Saints last week, where poor goal kicking, along with a poor last quarter ultimately did them in. Despite the loss, Casey was impressive throughout the game and showed great signs without getting the four points. Former Bendigo Pioneer, Eden Zanker was particularly impressive as she works to continue developing throughout the competition. AFLW teammate, Kate Hore also had a terrific game in her own right. Big performances from these two could help the Demons to get back on track. The Falcons on the other hand come off a bye and will look to establish dominance early on after having two weeks of preparation. Hannah Mouncey will look to continue her spectacular start to the season, building off her three-goal effort in the Falcons’ last encounter.

 

Western Bulldogs vs Collingwood

Saturday May 26, 2PM, Victoria University Whitten oval

Collingwood is looking to continue their great run of form in round four in a clash against the Western Bulldogs. Undefeated from their three games (two wins, one draw), the Magpies have built quite the impressive squad to begin the season. Jaimee Lambert found form last week in a two goal, 24 possession effort to lead the Pies to a comfortable win. This came alongside another impressive performance from former Calder Cannon, Sarah Dargan, who continues to grow in leaps and bounds. The Bulldogs come into the contest in desperate need of a win to get their season going, having lost their first two encounters, and rested with a bye last week. Hayley Wildes has been off to a great start in the opening two games for the Bulldogs, tallying up a high amount of possessions and using the ball extremely well. They will need another great game from Wildes, as well as a step up overall from the team at large if they wish to notch up their first win.

 

Geelong vs Carlton

Saturday May 26, 4:30PM, GMHBA Stadium

The Cats come into round four in a great run of form, having smashed Williamstown by 53 points last week. A terrific effort saw the Cats hold Williamstown to just four behinds for the entire game, with relentless effort down in defence, led by their captain, Rebecca Goring, who was spectacular. The emergence of NT recruit, Evelyn Dhamarrandji  in round three just added to Geelong’s dominance in the competition so far. The supporting cast such as Richelle Cranston have also stepped up and been great for the Cats in the first three weeks and will be pivotal again against a Carlton side who also find themselves in good form. Despite a loss to the Hawks last week, the Blues still come in with a great deal of hope against Geelong. Last week was a classic ‘’burn the tape’’ game for the Blues as they were beaten in all areas by a determined Hawthorn side who were firing on all cylinders. If the Blues are able to find their form from the first two games with players such as Darcy Vescio, Jess Hosking and Lauren Arnell continuing their good stretch, it will go a long way towards getting a rebound win.

 

 

Southern Saints vs Essendon

Sunday May 27, 11:30AM, Trevor Barker Beach Oval

The Saints fought their way to a well-earned victory last week, placing them at 2-1 heading into their clash against the bottom of the ladder Bombers. Alison Drennan continued her fantastic start to the season with another great outing of 22 possessions and a goal, and was instrumental in the Saints fourth quarter run to get them over the line in a close finish. Four goals in the final term showcased the Saints’ firepower, which they will look to put to great use in overwhelming an Essendon defence which has given up big scores throughout the early rounds. Essendon enter the round winless and are in desperate need of a big game to kick-start their season. For this to happen, they must put together a full four-quarter effort, something that has eluded them thus far. After being held scoreless from quarter time onwards last week, they will be looking to take control early and maintain that pressure to the end this time.

 

 

Williamstown vs Richmond

Sunday May 27, 2PM, Williamstown Football Ground

What a difference two weeks makes! After a terrific outing in round one, the Tigers come in off the back of two blowout losses and will look to get back on track against the equally struggling Williamstown. The Tigers had a strong performance last week from Jacqueline Graham in defence but struggled to get any other meaningful contributions down back, which resulted in an overall poor performance. With just two goals in the last two weeks the Tigers will also be looking for better results from the forwards.  A four goal game from co vice-captain, Kate Dixon propelled them to victory in round one and a similar effort from her or another Tigers player would go a long way towards a win. Williamstown, similar to Essendon find themselves winless from three games and will be doing everything they can to avoid going 0-4. An incredibly disappointing performance last week saw them fall to the Cats by nine goals, with them being dominated in all areas. Jess Duffin, however continues to be a shining light for the team, despite their poor performance overall. A better team effort could do wonders for the Seagulls and potentially yield their first win.

Scouting notes: VFLW – Round 3

AFTER three rounds of Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s football, NT, Hawthorn, Geelong and Collingwood are the undefeated teams. Down the other end of the ladder, Casey, Williamstown, Essendon and the Bulldogs hare yet to experience their first win. We watched three games on the weekend and took notes on all the players that impressed across the round. 

 

NT Thunder vs. Essendon

By: Julia Montesano

NT Thunder:

#26 Chelsea Randall

Always put her head over the footy and busted her way through tacklers. Showed her agility with an excellent spin around her opponent, turning her inside out to get the ball forward. Her intercept marking was fantastic as usual, she reads the footy so well. I thought her running was also fantastic this game, as she impacted the contest at both ends of the ground. When she was kicking the ball inside 50, she instructed her forwards of where to go, showing great on-field leadership. A highlight was when she delivered a kick perfectly to Eloise Jones, which was one of many perfectly pinpointed kicks. Randall chases every ball hard and tackles even stronger, giving her opponent no chance to dispose of the ball at times. Her composure with the ball in hand is exquisite. Randall proved that she can do anything when she took an excellent contested mark, ran around the player on the mark and attempted a torpedo inside 50.

#24 Georgia Bevan

Bevan was unstoppable in the midfield, as she was a ball magnet at every contest. She laid a fantastic tackle that halted the Bombers’ momentum, which slowed down a fast passage of play. Delivered a nice clearing kick from the centre square which sailed a long way towards forward 50. Bevan was able to burst through the middle towards inside 50 on plenty of occasions, racking up key clearances for the Thunder. She executed a great hack kick out of a pack and used that same quickness to tackle opponents immediately, stopping them in their tracks. She earned a free kick off one of her tackles, and booted the kick through for a goal, topping off her hard work throughout the day.

#3 Angela Foley

Started her day off marvellously with a great outside of the boot kick towards goal that sailed through. Foley had the ball on a string, getting plenty of the footy and clearing it out of the pack on many occasions. She usually makes an impact in defence but against the Bombers, she created so many scoring opportunities, which played a huge part in piling the pressure on the Bombers. Foley always tackled hard, and displayed great vision to switch the ball to Georgia Bevan who was on her own in space. Executed a good spin around her opponent to get the ball into space inside 50. Played a great captain’s game.

#17 Emma Swanson

Swanson was extremely lively inside 50. She displayed great hands as well as quick and accurate kicking. Laid a great run-down tackle to trap the ball inside 50, and backed it up with strong tackling throughout the game. A highlight of Swanson’s game was when she chased the ball on the ground, ducked under a pack to get the ball and worked in tandem with Sarah Allan for a great one-two to set up a forward thrust for NT, which resulted in an Angela Foley goal. Took a great leading mark when she worked in tandem with Deni Varnhagen, who told her where to run. Swanson was strong force in the contest, taking a good contested one-on-one mark. For one of her goals, she read the ball well off the bounce to pick it up and kick it through for a major. She has been on fire in the season so far.

#40 Deni Varnhagen

Varnhagen was everywhere, with her trademark long kick having an impact throughout the day. What impressed me most about Varnhagen was her unselfish play, as she always looks up when she gets the ball in hand. She used her booming kick to boot a goal from long range, and also used it on the boundary line. The kick went high but stayed in. demonstrating Varnhagen’s ability to manipulate her kicks. A highlight of her game was when she burst through a pack of players to kick a goal. She also delivered plenty of great goal assists, with one to Renee Forth and another to Emma Swanson off a beautiful long kick to the goal square, which landed perfectly out the back of the contest. Took a great intercept mark and executed a lovely lace-out kick to Emma Swanson. Varnhagen just gets and goes whenever she gets the ball, which is a real asset in her game.  

#28 Renee Forth

Burst well out of the centre and delivered a lovely chip kick inside 50. Displayed great acceleration throughout the afternoon. Read the play wonderfully and looked like one of the smartest players out there. This was demonstrated when the ball fell out the back of the pack and she snapped it around the body perfectly for a great goal. Forth took a great intercept mark to send the ball back inside 50 and got plenty of the ball. I thought she did her best work at the top of 50, where she would deliver long booming kicks that would create space for the Thunder’s forwards.

 

Essendon:

#6 Alex Quigley

Started her day by taking a strong mark between two players in a pack. She then delivered the ball perfectly inside 50 for Essendon’s first score of the match, which was a Lisa Williams miss. Ran well next to her teammate to create the one-two. Quigley kicked a remarkable goal when she picked up the ball and snapped around the body from long range. Quigley showed great goal sense, and has been doing so at the beginning of the competition.

#35 Valerie Moreau

The Canadian pocket rocket was really lively early on the day, getting plenty of touches in the first quarter. She was one of the reasons that Essendon got in top in the first term, with her great run and carry as well as her ability to create forward thrusts from the back half of the ground. Took a nice mark in defensive 50, and took it right up to Rhiannon Metcalfe, despite the size difference, with a really strong tackle, which stopped her flow. Moreau used the ball well off a free kick with a perfectly delivered kick inside space in the 50 metre arc for the Bombers.  

#8 Hayley Bullas

Took a nice mark and used it to switch the play and open up the ground. Bullas was really proactive with the ball in hand, creating plenty of opportunities for Essendon to get forward. Bullas loves to get the footy and run, and does it really well as she has immense speed and endurance to back up her innate agility.

#7 Kirby Hicks

Did a great job of kicking out for the Bombers. She was able to easily transition from a long, booming kick to a short, deft kick in order to hit a target. Hicks had one of the longest kicks of the ground, which was handy for the Bombers to try and get some momentum going forward. A highlight of her game came in the form of a great run-down tackle to save a goal.

#46 Courtney Ugle

Laid a perfect tackle on Jessica Sedunary, where she pinned one arm and got a free kick. Ugle tried hard for the Bombers all day, displaying good run and carry throughout the back half. She was rewarded for hard work with free kicks. She often mopped up well on the back line and showed great composure for her side.

#30 Simone Nalder

Nalder was Essendon’s best-on-ground for me because her marking was second to none. Although the Bombers faded away in the end, without her strong hands, the margin in the end would’ve been even bigger. She took a great contested mark that saved a crucial goal, courageously clunking the ball and bringing it down in a pack. Nalder was a general down back, holding her own in the toughest of contests. She probably had the best set of hands on the ground and used them to effect, making her Essendon teammates proud.

 

Collingwood vs. Richmond

By: James Halley

Collingwood: 

#93 Vaomua Laloifi

She is really good deep in defence under immense pressure. She was probably the cleanest player on the ground in the wet conditions. When many would fall to their feet, she would keep her composure and gather many loose balls.

#73 Gabrielle Biedenweg-Webster

She was a really dangerous forward for Collingwood with one goal for the day. She kicked Collingwood’s third for the game with a free kick from the pocket, using her smarts to run around the corner to open up the angle and have an easy shot. 

#11 Eliza Hynes

She played in the ruck and was a lot taller then every other player. She used her height to her advantage as she took a pack mark in the goal square for the first goal of the game. She also took numerous marks.

#46 Sarah Dargan

Dargan is often used as the distributor into the forward 50, and she is quite proficient in the role. She rarely misses a kick!

#53 Rebecca Grant

She has a very nice kick where she can pinpoint teammates deep forward. After immense pressure, she was let out the back and kicked one through the goals to finish the half.

 

Richmond:

#77 Justine Hocking

She won herself a free kick on the 50 and after ill-discipline from Sarah D’Arcy. Hocking was then brought forward 50 metres and kicked Richmond’s first goal for the game from the goal line. She bobbed up a few times and did her job when needed. Hocking was not disgraced. 

#63 Jacqueline Graham

She has a lot of courage as she took a mark going back with the flight in the second term. She was a key player for Richmond, taking numerous intercepts possessions. She is very clean with her hands and rarely drops a mark.

#76 Ella Ross

She was able to kick a miraculous soccer goal from the pocket in the third quarter. This was the highlight of the game for Richmond.

#58 Courtney Musico

Due to the large amount of ball that came her way in defence, she was solid in her role. She chose to spoil almost every time the ball came near her. This was effective in parts but cost Richmond a goal as well. Going for a simple chest mark would have been more effective. 

#64 Emma Gunn

After a scrimmage in the goal square she managed to get a kick away but only managed a point for the Tigers’ first score for the game. She was lively all day but just couldn’t convert in front of goal.

 

Williamstown vs. Geelong

By: Julia Montesano

Williamstown:

#9 Rachel Achampong

Delivered a really long kick off one step, and displayed that same skill throughout the game. A highlight of her game was when she took a great one-handed mark. I thought she did really well in the ruck, getting plenty of hit-outs and getting penetration on her taps. She worked hard at the contest, and she was in most ruck contests, displaying her endurance around the ground.

#22 Morgan Lowe

Laid a great wrap-around tackle that won her a free kick and finished with a nice kick towards the goal-square. Seemed to always pop up around the contest and never failed to make an impact with the ball in hand.

#19 Erin Meade

Meade is a really speedy player who has that trademark acceleration that can tear a game wide open. Unfortunately, her team couldn’t make much of an impact but she did. Meade was lively and got plenty of the ball. Her acceleration was a highlight of her game, as she just took the ball and burst into space.

#13 Nikki Wallace

Delivered a great kick towards the centre-square and showed good endurance when she followed up her kick to provide the next link in the chain. Executed a nice hack kick out of a contest towards the coal-face Always tried to provide an option for her teammate and never gave up trying throughout the afternoon.

#2 Jess Duffin

Duffin was the star of the day for the Seagulls once again. She was able to spin out of trouble on many occasions, giving her teammates opportunity to run. Did some of her finest work on the boundary line, as she delivered a quick-fire handball to a teammate and also curled the line perfectly with her kick towards the Seagulls’ forward 50. Duffin even managed to stop the best-on-ground in Richelle Cranston, when she stole the footy off her in the contest and burst away to kick the ball forward. She also took a fantastic pack mark in the back line and delivered a precise kick to a teammate. At one point, she beat four players in a contest inside 50, steaming towards goal.

 

Geelong:

#44 Rebecca Goring

The Geelong captain was solid as ever in the back line, mopping up everything that came her way. Was able to execute some really nice deft kicks out of defensive 50 and kicked it long when she needed to. Goring was never in a rush to get the ball out of defensive 50, always looking for an option instead of hacking the ball away. Her defensive pressure contributed to keeping Williamstown goalless.

#30 Richelle Cranston

Cranston was unstoppable for the Cats, she seemed to have the ball on a string for the whole afternoon! Her acceleration was unbelievable as there were numerous occasions where she would get the ball, tuck it under her arm and just burst. She got past whoever was in her way and did everything she could to propel Geelong forward. Cranston combined her exceptional speed and composure, when she lowered her eyes magnificently to hit Kate Darby perfectly on the lead. Cranston even mopped up well in the backline when she saved the ball going through for a point, keeping the ball in play and letting her defenders mop up on transition. She pinpointed her kick on another occasion when she hit Danielle Orr perfectly on the chest lace-out. Delivered some great balls inside 50. Whether it was long, short or speared, you just knew Cranston’s kick was going to hit a target.

#8 Kate Darby

I thought Darby did well around the ground, working hard to get the footy. She read the ball quite well in defensive 50 to take some handy intercept marks to disrupt the flow of the Seagulls. At the other end of the ground, she led to the ball really well and was a key presence inside 50, as she always is. She was lively and displayed good acceleration at times as well. A highlight for her was when she displayed good endurance to run hard and keep hunting a dribbling ball. Her effort paid off as the ball spilled out the back of the pack and she ran into an open goal to sign off on a good day at Williamstown.

#24 Maddy McMahon

Executed a perfect bump on her opponent, and attempted to trap the footy shortly after. She looked dangerous inside 50 throughout the afternoon. McMahon delivered a beautiful long kick towards the goal-square, always helping her teammates to get on the scoreboard. She got a major herself, capping off an unselfish performance in the forward line. The best part of her game for me was her strong hands, as she took a great mark in the goal-square as well as a great juggling mark in a pack.

#36 Evelyn Dhamarrandji

Dhamarrandji had a stellar performance in the blue and white hoops, as she killed it inside 50. Her marking was superb, clunking everything that came in her vicinity. She always kept her eyes on the footy in any situation, whether she was marking the ball in a pack or leading out rapidly to capture it on her chest. Also displayed good second and third efforts in multiple instances throughout the contest. At one point, she laid a strong tackle after her kick got smothered, then went and tackled an opponent in her vicinity to stop the ball from spilling out of a contest. Was not only on the end of goals, kicking two herself, but also got plenty of score involvements, with a nice kick from the centre-square towards the forward 50.

Weekend previews: VFLW – Round 3

AS the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition begins to take shape, we see a number of intriguing encounters in round three. The round kicks off with the battle of the unbeaten teams, as the Hawks take on the Blues in Box Hill and culminates with the classic Richmond and Collingwood rivalry down at Punt Road. The Darebin Falcons, Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Uni Football Club all enjoy byes this week. 

Hawthorn vs Carlton

Saturday May 19, 11:30AM
Box Hill City Oval, Box Hill

The Hawks look to continue their impressive start to the season when they take on the Blues in a Saturday morning clash at home. After a decisive victory over the Bombers in round one, the Hawks were able to grind out a tough seven-point win over Casey to improve to 2-0 for the season. Sarah Perkins has looked dangerous up forward to begin the season, booting three goals and creating a number of scoring opportunities for herself and her teammates. The Hawks welcome back Melissa Kuys in defence after she missed the game against Casey, however the side will be without fellow defender Pepa Randall. Carlton is also coming off two terrific performances in the first two rounds, with comprehensive wins over the Saints and the Bulldogs. The Blues hit the scoreboard with ease the past week led by Jess Hosking, Kimberley Cunico and Kate Shierlaw’s two goals each. Expect a tight contest as two of the early season contenders go head-to-head.  

Southern Saints vs Casey Demons

Saturday May 19, 3:30PM
SkyBus Stadium, Frankston

The Saints bounced back in a big way last week, recording a 30-point win over Williamstown, and will look to build off of that performance with another strong outing against the Casey Demons, who are winless from their only outing. Danielle Lawrence was a force to be reckoned with last week as she absolutely tore the Seagulls apart, kicking four goals, and was complemented by Alison Drennan who had another outstanding performance with 35 disposals and a goal. Casey produced a strong performance against Box Hill last week, before ultimately running out of legs in the last quarter as the Hawks ran over the top of them en route to victory. The Demons will look to put together a full four-quarter effort and notch up win number one of their VFLW season. Their defence was key in their contest last week, led by Katherine Smith, and they will need another strong performance from her and her fellow defenders in order to shut down the prolific Saints, who kicked nine goals in their victory last week.  

NT Thunder vs Essendon

Saturday May 19, 4:00PM
TIO Stadium, Darwin    

The Thunder come into their round three clash fresh off the bye, while the Bombers come off another disappointing encounter, having lost to Melbourne Uni. The Thunder absolutely destroyed the Darebin Falcons in the opening round to the tune of a 54 points and were dominant in all facets of the game. Led by AFLW stars Chelsea Randall and Emma Swanson who each got plenty of the footy with 23 disposals and 31 disposals respectively, as well as a dominant performance from Marijana Rajcic who kicked three goals and four behinds from her 25 possessions up forward. Essendon on the other hand are in desperate need of a win, having dropped its first two encounters. The Bombers were good in patches last week, holding a half-time lead over Melbourne Uni, and were in the game right until the end before succumbing to an eight-point defeat. Captain, Lisa Williams led from the front and will look to put in another strong game and lead the Bombers to their inaugural VFLW win.  

Williamstown vs Geelong

Sunday May 20, 2:00PM
Williamstown Football Ground, Williamstown

The Cats were a part of history last week as they played out the first ever VFLW draw against the Pies, while Williamstown fell for the second straight week. Renee Garing led the way through the middle of the ground with 30 possessions, with new recruit Richelle Cranston also turning in an impressive performance. Their side faces a desperate Williamstown team who look to announce themselves in the competition by getting their first win on the board. Despite the loss last week, Jess Duffin was a standout with three goals from her 20 possessions to help keep the Seagulls within striking distance. Williamstown will be hoping that the changes made at the selection table will inspire a new sense of belief into the players, with several inclusions into the side.

Collingwood vs Richmond

Sunday May 20, 2:00PM
Swinburne Centre, Richmond

Two traditional rival clubs go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon down at Punt Road Oval. The Tigers were unbelievable in round one, holding the Western Bulldogs goalless in a 38-point victory. However, they were on the other side of a goalless affair last week with an almost identical scoreline, this time resulting in a 39-point loss which saw them held to only four behinds. They look to get back on the winners list against an impressive Collingwood side, who come in with a win and draw to their name. Despite being the better team for the majority of the game last Sunday, the Pies’ bad kicking ultimately did them in, resulting in the competition’s first draw. Jaimee Lambert was terrific last week, alongside Sarah D’Arcy, who really put their impact on the game early. Young gun, Sarah Dargan also continues to develop nicely as she turned in an impressive 21-possession game in a breakout performance.

Team of the Week: VFLW – Round 2

ROUND two of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s gave the football world a more clear picture of where each team sits. Richmond has crashed back down to earth after being smashed by Darebin on Saturday. After their win, the Falcons showed that they cannot be ruled out after their mammoth loss to NT in round one. The Hawks also stamped themselves as contenders with their second straight win.

Darebin dominated Richmond, and the Team of the Week with three players getting a spot in the best 22, headlined by Hannah Mouncey who was dominant up forward with three goals. Melbourne University also had three players, including new North Melbourne recruit, Emma Kearney who finished with 25 disposals. The Southern Saints got some love this week after their first win in the competition, with Danielle Lawrence (four goals) and Alison Drennan (35 disposals) making their way into the best 22. 

With so many standout midfielders this week, it was too hard to fit Carlton’s Sophie Li and Collingwood’s Sarah Dargan into the Team of the Week, but they should still be commended for wonderful performances.