Tag: st kilda women’s

2021 VFLW season preview: Southern Saints

THE Southern Saints are setting no ceiling on their potential in 2021 according to incoming VFLW head coach, Dale Robinson, who says her players are “super excited” to be back out on the track ahead of season proper. Previously a St Kilda AFLW development coach, Robinson has taken the reigns of the Saints-aligned reserves side this year as both competitions run concurrently.

AFLW-listed players will now gain the opportunity to run out each week even when they are not selected in the senior side, with VFLW talent feeding off the experience of their elite level teammates, and NAB League prospects also filtering into the grade as each season progresses.

Robinson says there is some promising youth coming into the program at an age where their development could be accelerated in a senior competition. She outlined some of the standouts who will look to have an impact on the side in 2021, as well as the style of play fans can expect from the Saints.

“There’s a lot of young kids coming through that are at that age where they might have been out of the NAB League program now for a couple of years, but they’re really ready to develop their senior stuff,” Robinson said. “I’m excited about what some of those young kids can bring with the girls that have been there for a few years and built a really good culture around the club.

“I’m excited to see what Rebecca Ott can bring – she was actually elevated into the AFLW list a couple of weeks ago when, unfortunately, Nicola Xenos had a season-ending injury. “I think this will be a great year for her transition out of basketball to see what she can do from a footy perspective. “Georgia McLean has come across from Casey and I think she’ll add some good experience across our backline.

Maddi Capsalis is another one that I think will have some significant growth this year, the way that she attacks the ball is just phenomenal and it’ll be exciting to see what she does. “Then there’s a couple of the NAB League kids like Abbey Jordan and Zoe Hill to come through the program as well, so there’s some good young talent there that I’m excited to see what they can do.”

“I think the way that we want to try and look at moving the ball is to really open things up and not be too predictable in the way we move the ball. “I’d like to see some really good defensive work all across the ground, that’ll turn into good offensive run.”

As St Kilda transitioned into the AFLW competition, it brought with it a heap of former Southern Saints-listed players who are now thriving at the top level. It meant the VFLW Saints would be forced into a heavy list turnover and talent search, which has been heightened by the loss of a whole season.

Still, Robinson says the group has remained tight and many of the players who were set to go around in 2020 have recommitted to the club. With a “one club” mentality further aiding the connection across both levels, the Saints were able to keep close throughout the unexpected break while maintaining good levels of football fitness and touch.

“We probably look very different from 2019 because obviously the girls that were playing at that time, a lot of them are actually part of our St Kilda AFLW side now,” Robinson said. “That was that real transition year where we led into our first year of AFLW, but we’ve kept the majority of the girls that we were bringing together at the start of the 2020 season and then we’ve added a few players from different areas that have fitted in really seamlessly.

“It’s been great to sort of have 12 months of connection with those girls even though it hasn’t necessarily been on the track… (now) they’ve brought that in and for built on it across the last 10-11 weeks.

“From a fitness perspective, the majority of them kept as much touch and fitness as they could so we found that most of them came back in reasonably good shape. “There’s been quite a bit of work around the touch side of things, just to get that feel of the ball back in the hands, but that’s coming along pretty well and that’ll only get stronger as the season goes on.”

The group’s togetherness showed as it was able to overcome North Melbourne’s reserves in a preseason hitout last week, winning by 28 points at Trevor Barker Beach Oval. With one more scratch match set before season proper, Robinson says the Saints will look to learn from their performances with the chance to cap off a strong preseason.

“There were some really good things to take out of the game from an education perspective,” she said. “To look at the things that we’ve been working on over the season – what works, what we still need to put a little bit of time into… I was really happy with the way they ran out our practice game last week and I think that’ll put us in good stead to have a good season.”

The Saints’ six-player leadership group will be headed by a trio of co-captains in Tara Bohanna, Deanna Jolliffe, and Frankie Hocking. Robinson says the leaders voted in were largely reflective of who the coaching staff had identified for the role.

“We announced our leadership about three weeks ago, we have three co-captains that have really epitomised the way we’ve gone about our preseason and the player vote was reflective of the leaders that I’d seen coming through,” she said.

While no fixture has officially been released as of yet, the Saints are set to commence their VFLW season in late-February, hoping to match the competitiveness shown by their AFLW counterparts.

Image Credit: Lawrence Raja/Sandringham FC Media

2020 AFLW Draft review: St Kilda Saints

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is over, we take a look at each club, who they picked and what they might offer to their team next year. We continue our countdown with St Kilda, a team that showed promising signs in its inaugural season and will be on the rise in 2021 after being one of the most impressive performers through the draft.

St Kilda:

#6 – Tyanna Smith (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
#24 – Alice Burke (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#34 – Renee Saulitis (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#40 – Jacqueline Vogt (Southern Saints VFLW)
#51 – Tahlia Meyer (South Adelaide)

Every club is a winner post-draft, but St Kilda’s draft hand is one to celebrate and leave the red, white and black supporters really excited. Three young guns who were steals in the draft, followed by a couple of mature-agers including one already in the Saints’ program and another underrated talent in the SANFL Women’s, this is a side to watch in 2021.

Tyanna Smith was one of only a few who could challenge as the best player in the AFL Women’s Draft crop, so to see the Dandenong Stingrays star land at pick six and join former Stingrays’ teammates Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon at Moorabbin is a coup in itself. She is arguably the most complete player from the Under 18s, with elite athleticism, great skills, terrific decision making and a big-game player. She will complement Georgia Patrikios in there and the two will almost be uncatchable.

Alice Burke is one the fans would have been tracking for a little while given the men’s team has not had too many father-sons over the years. The daughter of club legend and now Western Bulldogs’ coach Nathan, Burke is a tenacious midfielder who has also spent time at half-back. Coming from a soccer background, Burke would have been a top 15 pick in an open draft, so again like Smith, represents value. With her defensive pressure and dual-sidedness, Burke is a massive inclusion to the Saints’ outfit.

Renee Saulitis was the premier pure small forward in the draft, and while she showed over the last 18 months she could play in defence or midfield, she is most at home in a forward pocket. Oozing X-factor and goal sense, she is another who could come straight in and cause all sorts of damage at the feet of Caitlin Greiser, and is one to watch as a quick developer. She provides a niche little role in there, and cannot be left alone inside 50.

Jacqueline Vogt comes out of the Southern Saints program where she performed as a versatile forward. Strong and not afraid of the contest, the mature-age Vogt could slot into the side straight away if required following her consistent 2019 VFL Women’s season.

Finally, the Saints picked up slick ball user Tahlia Meyer with the extra pick they opted to pass on draft night. The South Adelaide prospect was one of the most underrated players in the SANFL Women’s competition, but hardly put a foot wrong with her disposal and vision going inside 50 a treat to watch. It seems to be a running theme with the Saints – good ball use and decision making – and Meyer fits the bill and is also readymade to have an impact at senior level.

Overall the Saints included some serious X-factor and talent to their line-up with fans likely to see them continue to rise up the ladder and worry some more experienced teams next season.

Picture: St Kilda Women’s Twitter

2020 AFL Women’s season review: St Kilda

ST KILDA’S inaugural AFL Women’s season saw the newcomers bring football back to Moorabbin in 2020, and very nearly ended with an unlikely finals berth. Led by a trio of co-captains in Rhiannon Watt, Kate Shierlaw, and Cat Phillips, the Saints notched two very impressive wins on the way to a 2-4 record, combining experience with some incredibly talented youth in a promising maiden campaign. We take a look at some of those key individual performers, and delve into the highs and lows of St Kilda’s season in the latest edition of our 2020 reviews.

RECORD: 5th (B), 2-4, 90.6%

RESULTS:

R1: lost to Western Bulldogs by 25 points
R2: lost to Adelaide by 13 points
R3: defeated Melbourne by 5 points
R4:
lost to Fremantle by 1 point
R5:
lost to Carlton by 21 points 
R6:
defeated Richmond by 39 points

Pitched against five inaugural AFLW clubs in its eventual six games, outsiders would be forgiven for thinking St Kilda would be the expansion side to find the going most tough this year. But that was far from what eventuated as the Saints very nearly overcame reigning premier, Adelaide before trumping Melbourne for their first-ever win, and later giving the undefeated Fremantle an almighty scare in a one-point loss. Throw in the 39-point smashing of Richmond where the Tigers became the first AFLW team to be held goalless, and there was a wealth of positives to be drawn from the season for St Kilda.

SEASON HIGH: Knocking off Melbourne for win number one

This was a result no one truly expected, even after the Saints got within a quarter of overcoming Adelaide the week before, and there was no better way to claim a maiden AFLW win than on home turf. It made the result of this low-scoring slugfest all the more sweeter for the Saints, who proved too accurate in front of goal with their 3.1 (19) outgunning Melbourne’s 1.8 (14). Overcoming any established and finals-bound team would have been impressive, getting one over the hardened Melbourne side really proved St Kilda’s ability to compete.

SEASON LOW: Letting it slip against Fremantle

From a soaring high to a heart-breaking low, all the confidence from St Kilda’s win in the previous week fell just short of carrying it over the line against a fearsome Dockers outfit. After snatching the lead in the third term and bringing it into the final break, the Saints found themselves two goals clear thanks to a beautiful Molly McDonald snap. But just as quickly as she became the would-be hero, McDonald’s brain fade gifted the Dockers a 50m penalty and the chance to draw level, before they pinched the last-minute victory.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Georgia Patrikios (15.7 disposals, 1.8 marks, 3.3 tackles, 1.3 rebound 50s, 2.7 inside 50s)

You would be hard-pressed to find a more impressive first-year player than Patrikios, even in the face of the competition’s prosperous youth. ‘GP’ hit the ground running on debut against the Bulldogs with her 18 disposals earning her a Rising Star nomination and capturing the attention of fans everywhere. It helped form the base of a terrific year, where the Calder Cannons graduate led St Kilda for disposals, metres gained, and clearances.

Olivia Vesely (15.2 disposals, 2.3 marks, 4.3 tackles, 2.8 inside 50s, 1 goal)

Another first-year player who stood tall under enormous responsibility was Vesely, who became a key support for Patrikios through midfield. There was plenty of hype surrounding last year’s VFLW Rising Star winner, and she delivered in spades to stamp her name as a certain starter for the Saints each week. The 20-year-old’s consistency saw her earn an AFLW Rising Star nomination in Round 4, for her 18-disposal performance against Carlton.

Tilly Lucas-Rodd (13.2 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2.3 tackles, 1.5 rebound 50s, 76% efficiency)

Lucas-Rodd was one who built on the promise shown in her three seasons at Carlton to fully justify the second chance awarded to her at the elite level, becoming a key member of this exciting St Kilda side. A VFLW best and fairest and team of the year member, Lucas-Rodd is a gritty utility who has adapted well to a more defensive-based role with the Saints. At 23 years of age, her rate of development means there is plenty of scope for even more improvement.

Rosie Dillon (13.3 disposals, 1.2 marks, 5.8 tackles, 1.7 inside 50s)

The Saints would have been chuffed with their selection of Dillon in last year’s draft at pick 24, as the 2019 Hawthorn VFLW best and fairest hit the ground running upon entering the elite system. A hardened midfielder who loves the contest, Dillon had a terrific back-end of the season where she averaged 17 disposals across her last four games while also keeping up her impressive tackle numbers. A shrewd recruit who combines well with the outside class of Patrikios.

Alison Drennan (12.4 disposals, 1 mark, 4.4 tackles, 1 rebound 50, 1 inside 50)

One of the Saints’ best AFLW snares was Drennan, who donned the red, black, and white once again after turning-out for the VFLW side. The former-North Melbourne midfielder is again one who loves the contest, and built into the season well after missing Round 1. Leading from her midfield post, Drennan added great value to the diverse and hard-working St Kilda engine room across her five outings.

THE SPEARHEAD:

Caitlin Greiser (9.7 disposals, 2.7 marks, 1.3 tackles, 3.2 inside 50s, 10 goals)

‘The G-Train’ was nothing short of spectacular in her maiden AFLW campaign, finishing second in the competitions’ goalkicking charts (10) while leading her side for score involvements and inside 50s. A true, traditional centre-half forward, Greiser’s lead-up work was hard to beat, and her booming boot made her a threat from all angles within 50 metres of the big sticks. With multiple goals in four games, the Round 3 Rising Star nominee is one to watch.

YOUNG GUN:

Molly McDonald (9.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, 2.2 tackles, 1.7 rebound 50s, 1.3 inside 50s, 2 goals)

The pre-listed Saints draftee went above and beyond in justifying that status in her debut senior year, turning out consistent showings across all six games for her side. Rotating between the forwardline and midfield, McDonald continued her happy knack of finding the goals as displayed at Under 18 level, while also showing great poise on the ball. Impressively, the outside mover also led her side for marks this year (21).

VERDICT:

Looking back, the Saints perhaps exceeded expectations in a memorable first season at the top level, bringing football home to Moorabbin and giving their fans something to cheer about. Their two wins were of high quality, while a couple of tight losses could have gone the other way and afforded a finals berth. The most exciting thing about St Kilda’s future is its youth, with a number of Under-21 talents shining brightly already.