Tag: tac cup girls preview

TAC Cup Girls preview: Sandringham Dragons

THE Sandringham Dragons had an okay inaugural TAC Cup Girls competition, winning two of their five games and had a number of standout players including Team of the Year selection Georgia Ricardo, and best and fairest winner OIivia Vesely.

Without a doubt the Dragons would have loved to have had Isabel Huntington out on the park in 2017 – with the AFLW National Draft top pick missing the entire year through an ACL rupture. Her talent was obvious from a young age and did not deter the Western Bulldogs from pouncing on the key utility with the first pick. One thing that stood out about the Dragons in 2017 is that they had 16 players who played every game of the season, and just four players in the squad that took part in three or less games, enabling some continuity within the team.

In 2018, the Dragons will be guided by Tamara Hyett who will lead them into battle against the Geelong Falcons on Saturday, before facing Oakleigh Chargers on March 17 and Northern Knights a week later. The Dragons had an early pre-season hit-out with the Chargers recently, culminating in a strong victory to give them plenty to be excited about for the year ahead.

Sandringham also announced its leadership group ahead of the season, with Jemma Owen named captain, alongside Chelsea Bowen, Maddi Wilson and Alana Dalley. Owen played all five games last season, named in the best on two occasions, and was one of the few who stood up against the onslaught of GWV Rebels in the final round.

Dalley is one to watch in 2018 with the over-age ruck a notable performer over the pre-season, after looking good last season. Another top-ager worth keeping track of is Eleanor Brown who shone in the Dragons’ loss to the Northern Knights last season, and was named Sandringham’s best. She causes headaches for the opposition and has a strong endurance base stemming from her athletics background.

Sandringham also has a number of players still a year or two off being drafted with Eliza McNamara one that is likely to catch the eye after being a standout for Melbourne Girls Grammar in the Herald Sun Shield Division 1 Senior Girls Grand Final last season. Despite being 15 years-old at the time, the talented junior was consistently named among the best throughout the tournament, even in the school’s 23-point loss to Ballarat Grammar in the final.

A teammate of McNamara’s during that grand final was Abbie McKay, who also stood out as one of the best across the tournament, with the daughter of former Blue Andrew, playing five games for the Dragons in 2017. McKay was another one who stood tall in the Dragons’ loss to the Rebels and will be one to watch as a potential father-daughter selection for the Blues at the end of the year.

Another famous name to carry on the football tradition at the Dragons is Burke, with sisters Molly and Alice to run out for Sandringham in 2018. The daughters of St Kilda star Nathan, Molly is eligible to be drafted this season, with Alice a couple of years away. It will be interesting to see how the soccer-converts take to the field, with Burke recently putting pen to paper in Inside Footy telling of his experiences with coaching female footballers.

TAC Cup Girls preview: Northern Knights

AFTER an impressive first season, the Northern Knights welcome some fresh eyes to the TAC Cup Girls’ program, with a new female talent coordinator, and coach for the 2018 season. Last year the Knights finished fourth overall, winning four of their five games, and have already made some big inclusions for the upcoming season, with Diamond Valley College’s sports academy coordinator Zoe Slatter appointed as female talent coordinator, and Marcus Abney-Hastings as coach. Abney-Hastings is familiar with the Knights program, having served as the defensive line coach for the boys’ squad in 2017.

Last year’s AFLW National Draft saw one Northern Knight selected, as Maddy Guerin headed to Melbourne after winning the Knights’ best and fairest award, and being selected in the 2017 TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year. Guerin has already impressed at AFLW level, holding her own at Casey Fields in the Demons’ tight victory over GWS Giants in round one.

The Knights have a number of impressive prospects heading into 2018, headlined by bottom-ager Gabby Newton, who is a member of the 2018 AFLW Academy. Having come from a basketball background, Newton has a touch of class and smarts about the way she plays and is one to watch this year. With 18 months of development still left in her before she is eligible to be drafted, Newton could emerge as one of the top 2019 draft prospects with a good season this year.

Of the top-agers to watch, Madeline Brancatisano is the first name to come to mind after impressing in the TAC Cup Girls competition last season. She covers the ground well and is a well-rounded player who predominantly plays through the midfield and is used as a link-up player in transition from defence to attack. In 2017, she was named in the best on three occasions, including a best on ground performance in a narrow two-point win over Eastern Ranges. Leadership also runs in Bracantisano’s blood with older sister Lily selected as the Knights’ inaugural captain last season.

Another player to watch from the top-agers is Alexandra Pronesti, who also played every game last season and impressed. In the Knights’ final-round win over the Dandenong Stingrays, she booted two goals and was named in the best . From her bottom-age year, Pronesti looks to be a smooth mover with a good combination of strength and speed, and can be damaging when coming off the half-back flank.

Britney Gutknecht is another bottom-ager, but burst onto the scene in 2017, playing all five games despite being two years away from being drafted. She collected a best on ground against Dandenong Stingrays in the final round, and was one of the best in the Knights’ loss to the Geelong Falcons in round one. Gutknecht managed to boot two goals last season and is a determined player who is among the most consistent in the league.

Northern also recently enjoyed training alongside the girls’ AFLW heroes when they ran through their paces with Carlton last week.

Heading into the 2018 campaign, the Northern Knights take on the Dandenong Stingrays in Beaconsfield on Saturday as part of a TAC Cup Girls’ double header, before measuring themselves against the 2017 benchmark in the Calder Cannons on March 18.

TAC Cup Girls preview: Oakleigh Chargers

THE Oakleigh Chargers will aim to be a more settled side in 2018 after tasting TAC Cup Girls football in 2017. While they finished the five-game season without a win, there were a number of players who stood out with impressive performances, of which a number of them have gone on to sign with VFL Women’s clubs ahead of the 2018 season, including three players to Collingwood.

Perhaps the biggest signing was former Charger Chelsea Mitchell to Hawthorn’s VFLW side, joining her brother and AFL disposal-leading Hawk, Tom at the affiliated club. Mitchell played through the midfield for the Chargers last season, and has an elite endurance base – similar to her brother – registering 11.05 on the last beep test conducted for the TAC Cup Girls in the 2017 pre-season – fourth overall in the competition.

The Chargers copped a heavy loss against the premiers Calder Cannons, but showed amazing resilience to almost knock off the undefeated Murray Bushrangers in the final round of the season – just a week later – falling four points short of victory. They were unlucky not to defeat Sandringham Dragons, having led for patches in the low-scoring contest at Frankston, while kicking their highest score of the season against Dandenong Stingrays in round one.

Among the top prospects for the 2018 season is rock-solid defender Hannah McLaren, who was best-on-ground against the Eastern Ranges, and was rarely beaten one-on-one throughout the 2017 season. Towards the end of the year, McLaren – who is the daughter of former AFL umpire Scott – showed her versatility by moving up the ground and impressing through the midfield and forward 50. Her performances throughout the year earned her the Oakleigh best and fairest award.

McLaren will be the reliable leader who second-year coach Luke O’Shannessy looks to as Oakleigh aims to tackle the season with a strong understanding of how competitive the TAC Cup Girls competition is, especially fast forwarding 12 months.

A familiar name for cricketing fans might be Isabella Gietzmann, who is one of the many dual-sport athletes running around the TAC Cup competition. Gietzmann plays high-level cricket but has also been a regular performer on the football field, booting 11 goals in the 2015 Vic Metro Championships for Youth Girls Under 16s. In that competition she represented Yarra Junior Football League, booting nine goals in back-to-back games against the Northern Football League and South Metro Junior Football League.

A top-ager that has always been close to the top in football circles is Bridie Winbanks, who was initially selected in the Sandringham Dragons Youth Girls squad in 2016 – the competition pre-dating the TAC Cup Girls. Once the latter started up, Winbanks was picked up by Oakleigh and was solid in her bottom-age year, and her high work ethic was obvious for those who watched the Chargers in 2017.

They start their campaign off against Gippsland Power on March 3 at Moe, as a curtain-raiser to the Collingwood-Western Bulldogs AFLW clash. Following on from that, the Chargers face neighbours Sandringham Dragons – a side they got to get a glimpse of in a practice match recently, before meeting Eastern Ranges a week later.

Like every TAC Cup club, Oakleigh will focus its efforts on development, and after a shorter inaugural season in 2017, are ready to hit the ground running in 2018. With the likes of McLaren, Gietzmann and Winbanks covering each area on the ground, the Chargers will have more depth than last season and will look to improve throughout the season as more players begin to stand out.