Tag: vic metro

Victorian AFL Women’s Under 18 Championship teams announced

REIGNING premiers, Geelong Falcons have dominated the Victorian representation with nine players in the Vic Country 29-player squad, while minor premiers Northern Knights, finalists Eastern Ranges and fifth placed Oakleigh Chargers have six apiece in the 30-player Vic Metro squad. Of the other sides, Dandenong Stingrays also has six players in the Country team, meaning more than half the squad are Falcons or Stingrays, including St Kilda pre-listed duo, Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Sandringham Dragons have five players each in the Country and Metro squads respectively, while Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets have four apiece. Bendigo Pioneers and Calder Cannons have three players in their representative squad, while Gippsland Power has the two.

Vic Country has included eight middle-agers (not eligible to be drafted until next year) in its squad, while Vic Metro has seven. The two coaches will have more than their fair share of AFL and AFLW experience, with Nathan Burke taking the reigns at Vic Metro, while Aasta O’Connor will coach Vic Country. The sides face off on June 22, before squads are reduced to fly to Gold Coast for three games against other states from July 8-12. AFL Draft Central will be on the ground in Queensland providing you all the latest.

State Talent Manager Paul Hamilton said the Championships gave Victoria’s best emerging female footballers the chance to highlight their skills on a big stage.

“The NAB AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships have the potential to put our up-and-coming female players firmly on the radar of AFL Women’s clubs,” Hamilton said. “Our Vic Country and Vic Metro girls will have access to some of the best coaching resources in women’s football in order to develop their games and will be able to experience playing at elite-level venues against the best talent the rest of Australia has to offer. “Travelling to the Gold Coast in July will also provide them an extra opportunity to bond with girls who share a common goal of furthering their careers within the elite talent pathway.”

The Country vs Metro under-18 match on June 22 will be part of a double-header along with an under-16 Country vs Metro clash (commencing at 12pm), with the initial squads for those teams to be announced next week. All the non-Victorian state lists will be posted once the final team lists are completed, with some out, while others are yet to be released.

Tomorrow we will provide more details on each of those players selected in the Victorian squads.

VIC COUNTRY

NO. NAME   DOB HT NAB LEAGUE GIRLS CLUB
1 Elise Vella 05-Sep-01 156 Geelong Falcons
2 Teagan Brett 08-Feb-01 157 Murray Bushrangers
3 Paige Sheppard 23-Apr-01 158 Geelong Falcons
4 Renee Saulitis 14-Aug-02 163 GWV Rebels
5 Luka Lesosky-Hay 07-Jan-01 164 Geelong Falcons
6 Laura Gardiner 21-Nov-02 164 Geelong Falcons
7 Ella Wood 14-Feb-01 164 GWV Rebels
8 Elizabeth Snell 14-Mar-02 165 Bendigo Pioneers
9 Darcy Moloney 20-Nov-02 165 Geelong Falcons
10 Sophie Locke 24-Apr-01 166 Murray Bushrangers
11 Brooke Hards 19-Jul-02 166 Bendigo Pioneers
12 Tyanna Smith 29-Oct-02 167 Dandenong Stingrays
13 Molly McDonald 04-May-01 168 Dandenong Stingrays
14 Abbey Chapman 15-Apr-01 170 Geelong Falcons
15 Nikia Webber 29-Aug-01 170 Gippsland Power
16 Renee Tierney 23-May-02 168 Geelong Falcons
17 Mia Skinner 30-Jan-01 170 Geelong Falcons
18 Kate Douglass 19-Jul-01 171 Bendigo Pioneers
19 Brooke Vernon 20-Oct-01 172 Dandenong Stingrays
20 Zoe Hill 13-May-02 173 Dandenong Stingrays
21 Sophie Molan 24-Mar-01 175 GWV Rebels
22 Millie Brown 15-Jan-01 175 Murray Bushrangers
23 Lucy McEvoy 13-May-01 172 Geelong Falcons
24 Isabella Simmons 19-Apr-02 181 GWV Rebels
25 Olivia Barber 14-Jul-02 184 Murray Bushrangers
26 Isabella Shannon 30-Jun-01 178 Dandenong Stingrays
27 Shanara Notman 27-Jul-01 178 Gippsland Power
28 Georgia Howes 26-Jul-00 183 Dandenong Stingrays
29 Maggie Caris 21-Dec-02 188 GWV Rebels

 

VIC METRO

NO. NAME   DOB HT NAB LEAGUE GIRLS CLUB
1 Olivia Meagher 10-Dec-02 158 Eastern Ranges
2 Felicity Theodore 14-Mar-01 159 Calder Cannons
3 Gemma Lagioia 03-May-01 160 Oakleigh Chargers
4 Nicola Xenos 08-Mar-01 161 Oakleigh Chargers
5 Elisabeth Georgostathis 17-Oct-01 162 Western Jets
6 Madeleine Edwards 19-Jan-01 164 Eastern Ranges
7 Amelia Van Oosterwijck 08-Nov-01 164 Oakleigh Chargers
8 Mimi Hill 04-Oct-01 165 Oakleigh Chargers
9 Bella Eddey 02-Nov-02 165 Sandringham Dragons
10 Alana Barba 26-Sep-01 166 Calder Cannons
11 Tarni Brown 26-Mar-02 166 Eastern Ranges
12 Alice Burke 10-Mar-02 166 Sandringham Dragons
13 Britney Gutknecht 20-Apr-01 167 Northern Knights
14 Laura McClelland 03-Jul-01 169 Eastern Ranges
15 Alyssa Bannan 13-Apr-02 169 Northern Knights
16 Emily Harley 04-Dec-01 169 Oakleigh Chargers
17 Georgia Patrikios 30-Mar-01 170 Calder Cannons
18 Emma Horne 29-Nov-01 170 Eastern Ranges
19 Marguerite Purcell 27-Jul-01 170 Sandringham Dragons
20 Sarah Sansonetti 02-Aug-01 172 Northern Knights
21 Ellie McKenzie 17-Oct-02 173 Northern Knights
22 Sarah Hartwig 04-Dec-02 173 Sandringham Dragons
23 Nell Morris-Dalton 05-Apr-01 174 Northern Knights
24 Isabella Grant 21-Sep-01 174 Western Jets
25 Tahlia Merrett 08-Jan-01 174 Eastern Ranges
26 Gabrielle Newton 31-Aug-01 175 Northern Knights
27 Molly Denahy Maloney 25-Feb-01 175 Sandringham Dragons
28 Isabelle Pritchard 08-Mar-02 176 Western Jets
29 Cleo Saxon-Jones 04-Nov-01 181 Western Jets
30 Amelia Peck 13-Jan-00 183 Oakleigh Chargers

Scouting notes: Victorian trials

VICTORIA’S top talents in the 2019 and 2020 draft crops took to Ikon Park yesterday with two trial games in front of Victorian selectors and AFL club recruiters in a bid to impress for selection ahead of the National Under 18 Championships. We took a look at 15 of the top performers from both sides across the two games.

 

VIC COUNTRY:

By: Ed Pascoe

Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers)

Ash was a strong performer down back, he rarely missed a target all day and his run and carry throughout the game was a huge factor in the Country team getting the win. Ash showed his dash with some huge runs down the wing, often taking the game on and his constant sideways movement and composure made him a nightmare to tackle for the opposition. Ash often took the kick outs and was extremely organised and often picked the right option and worked hard to again link up.

Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays)

Cahill started the game through the midfield – winning the ball on the inside and outside. He had a nice bit of play in the first quarter winning a contested ball on the wing and then a good handball to is teammate. Cahill would go forward on a few occasions, kicking a nice running goal in the second quarter and a nice pass inside 50 to teammate Josh Smith in the third quarter, he would crumb a contest in the last quarter and showed his dash away from the contests and delivered the ball well by hand.

Sam De Koning (Dandenong Stingrays)

De Koning looked lively early down back, taking the ball at every opportunity and showing some real class with his pickups at ground level – exceptional for a 200cm player. His rebound work was solid and whenever he was around the ball he did some nice things and looked to play with good intent.

Kyle Dunkley (Gippsland Power)

Dunkley looked best inside the contest using his quick and clean hands at stoppages to release to his running teammates and he did well doing the bulk of the contested work through the midfield. It was not a prolific day stats wise for Dunkley but he would add a nice goal to his name with a long bomb from 50 meters.

Sam Flanders (Gippsland Power)

Flanders was busy through the midfield winning clearances and pumping the ball inside 50. Flanders usually has a big impact up forward so it was good to see him getting some midfield time where he contributed well. He had a nice bit of play in the third quarter, taking a mark inside 50 and quickly kicking to the advantage to teammate Sam Conforti which lead to a goal.

Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)

Hollands was seriously impressive up forward, he was a constant threat and was often minded by one of 2019’s top prospects Dylan Williams. He kicked his first goal in the first quarter running into open goal and he set up others with his kicking inside 50 all class. One of his standout features was his ability to keep strong in the contest and get his arms up, and his second goal came from a classy snap goal 40 metres out in the third quarter. His best bit of play also came in the third quarter where he worked hard to keep the ball in play on a wing and used the ball well with a long handball to a running teammate inboard.

Mitch Martin (GWV Rebels)

Martin did some really nice things through the midfield, he won some great clearances and showed plenty of class with ball in hand with his best movement coming in the first quarter with a bullet pass inside 50 to teammate Fraser Phillips. Martin was good at stoppages and won some nice clearances.

Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power)

Phillips looked lively early with a nice lead up mark but missing the set shot, he would look bests setting up others with his laser left foot with some impressive kicks inside 50 in the third quarter with one to the smallest player for Country in Jye Chalcraft and tallest, Aaron Gundry.

Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels)

Rantall has had a fantastic start to the year and that trend continued with an impressive showing for Country through the midfield. Rantall’s clean hands and quick handballs at stoppages were a highlight and he was a consistent performer winning plenty of the ball over the four quarters. Rantall added a goal after a 50 metre penalty, he would quickly play on and kick the running goal.

Mitchell Riordan (Dandenong Stingrays)

Riordan was one of Country’s more impactful midfielders showing his class and composure around the ball and working hard to move the ball on and attack at any opportunity. He had a lovely kick inside 50 in the first quarter and showed some dash in the third quarter with a great run through the middle of the ground and kicking long inside 50.

Caleb Serong (Gippsland Power)

Serong was a really strong player through the midfield and Country’s obvious standout in the second game. His work through the midfield was first class with his clean and hard attack on the ball and his movement to avoid tacklers to get a handball out. Serong would kick a terrific long goal from 50 meters which showed his class and why he is considered one of Country’s better prospects for the 2019 season.

Brock Smith (Gippsland Power)

Smith was solid down back doing well in one on ones and working hard to rebound ad move the ball forward. Smith played his role well down back doing everything required and showing strong leadership showing why he was named the Gippsland captain.

Cody Weightman (Dandenong Stingrays)

Weightman did not get a lot of the ball but he always looked dangerous both in the air and at ground level constantly throwing himself up for marks and making defenders panic at ground level with his run and excitement, Weightman had his best quarter in the last with some very nice things around the ball.

Cameron Wild (Murray Bushrangers)

Wild was a solid player through the midfield, working hard inside and outside the contests to stay involved over the four quarters. He kicked a goal from a set shot after winning a free kick in the first quarter, and Wild showed his toughness with a hard tackle winning a free kick in the third quarter and then kicking wide with lovely delivery to his teammates advantage.

Hayden Young (Dandenong Stingrays)

Young started slow down back but really lifted in the second quarter with some great work under pressure and some good link-up play. He would work really hard for the rest of the game doing his best to win every contest he was near and run off to be an option and use his lethal left boot. Young was often used for kick outs where he was effective at hitting short and long passes with ease.

 

VIC METRO:

By: Peter Williams

Noah Anderson (Oakleigh Chargers)

Finished the game a bit sore after a ripping first half where he showed good hands under pressure, in one instance giving it off to Carafa in the third term to give him time and space. Kicked a goal in the same quarter after running into the hole and taking a mark uncontested then converting the set shot. Showed off his nice penetrating kick at times.

Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers)

The classy ball magnet was deployed off half-back and just used the ball so well. He was busy early and able to hit up targets with ease on his left. He showed great composure in traffic and got to the outside and had an impact.

Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons)

After a fumble or two early, Butler came into his own as the game went on, looking very impressive off half-back – running off his opponent to get forward and creative scoring opportunities for teammates. He had a terrific kick out in front of a leading Billy McCormack who capitalised with a goal, and had the ball on a string throughout the second half. An impressive performance.

Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons)

Was played on the outside most of the game, often playing off a wing. He used quick hands and showed nice speed out of a stoppage using his opposite foot to find a target inside 50.

Adam Carafa (Northern Knights)

Was hit and miss by foot at times, but performed throughout the four quarters, setting up a few players inside 50 including neat kicks to Curtis Brown and Josh May in the second half. Just kept battling and giving his all throughout the game.

Charlie Dean (Sandringham Dragons)

The Sandringham Dragons forward shines as the clear standout key position forward from the Victorian perspective, with his leading patterns and work rate impressive. He pushes up the ground and finds the ball, and can double back and make second leads where required. He did have a set shot to forget missing the lot early, but capped it off with some goals including the easiest of attempts alone in the goal square and another from long range which bounced through.

Cody Hirst (Eastern Ranges)

The half-forward had a number of strong chances, going in hard and providing plenty of defensive pressure, booting a goal for his efforts after protecting the ball drop inside 50 then putting it straight through the middle. One of the more memorable moments was spoiling a kick and nullifying a contest against three opponents.

Emerson Jeka (Western Jets)

After a quiet start to the game, Jeka came into his own in the final term, booting three goals and hitting the post to almost single-handedly take the game away from Country. He showed good aggression going for his marks and took a couple of great contested grabs. Jeka showed a good presence and while he did go to ground a number of times, when marking took the ball at the highest point.

Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons)

Not a huge possession winner but took a number of good marks playing at half-back. Spread to dangerous positions and took a great intercept mark at centre-half back in the second half.

Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons)

The big disposal winner played a multitude of roles across the ground, winning the ball on the wing, in defence and even getting forward to kick a goal and set up another. He has neat skills and particularly stepped up in the second half, pushing hard along the wing to win a chain of possessions from the back pocket to forward pocket. Just keeps running all day.

Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges)

The energetic small was clean at ground level and moved well throughout the game. Mellis showed good composure and good vision and was able to use his hands on the inside with quick hands. Was solid throughout.

Daniel Mott (Calder Cannons)

A big game from the Calder Cannons midfielder who was second to Matt Rowell across the four quarters. He and Rowell combined well through the middle and he was able to capitalise on the outside using his slick skills to get the ball forward. He won his fair share of his own footy as well and was able to use quick hands to keep the ball moving. Mott also had a number of scoring assists and kicked a terrific goal in the final term off a step.

Brodie Newman (Calder Cannons)

Got better as the game went on and was strong in the back 50 showing composure coming off half-back and using his penetrating kick to clear defence. Was often mopping up throughout the back half and getting it cleanly to teammates. Peeled off when needed but was accountable at the same time.

Matthew Rowell (Oakleigh Chargers)

Going from strength to strength is the star midfielder. Hardly puts a foot wrong and is just a complete all-round player not dissimilar to Sam Walsh last year. Rowell took a number of strong marks around the ground, won plenty of the football and clearances, then capped off a stunning performance with a couple of goals. Kicked his first with a perfect kick on his left straight through the middle, then did it again later in the game where he seemingly cruised out of a stoppage and just put it straight through. No doubt suffered leather poisoning in a best on ground performance.

Lachlan Stapleton (Eastern Ranges)

Kicked a couple of goals throughout and had a crack, a quick snap through in the first half got him on the board then snuck inside 50, took an uncontested mark and kicked a good goal.

Taking opportunities pays off for Katie Lynch

IN the midst of Year 12, Katie Lynch had a lot on her plate.

She featured in the TAC Cup Girls competition, represented Vic Metro, played for Collingwood in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition and balanced school sport commitments as well. Although it was a difficult situation to be in for Lynch, she says she had no choice but to take those opportunities that came her way.

“Obviously I was a bit under the pump earlier in the year, well at least I put myself under the pump,” Lynch said. “I had the opportunities come my way and I just had to take them and I thought I did that pretty well so it’s got me here. “I’m proud of myself.”

Now, she finds herself on Collingwood’s AFL Women’s list, with the club selecting her with pick 10 in the draft. Lynch says although it was unexpected, she was relieved to hear her name being called out on draft day.

“It was obviously really exciting, probably something I didn’t expect either,” she said. “But I heard my name get read out and yeah it was just a real relieving feeling I guess but I’m excited to get started.”

Lynch has already experienced playing for the Magpies, having played with them in the VFLW, meaning she will be able to continue playing with some familiar faces. This also signals a new opportunity for Lynch to mingle with the new draftees, who she regards quite highly.

“There’s some really exciting players that we’ve drafted as well,” Lynch said. “We’ve got Jordy Allen so I’m just excited, everyone’s great, I know a lot of the faces there which will really help.”

The 18 year-old admits the VFL experience, along with the TAC Cup Girls and AFL Women’s Under 18 competitions, have helped her adapt to different game styles. This is something that she hopes will hold her in good stead for her upcoming stint in the AFL Women’s.

“TAC Cup, Metro, VFL, they all bring a different kind of game,” Lynch said. “They’re each unique in their own way so it was kind of interesting trying to adapt to each game style. “But at the end of the day, you’re just playing footy so it was good.”

Despite the simplicity of playing the game, Lynch admits she is is still coming to terms with being an AFL Women’s footballer, not accustomed to the prestigious title.

“It’s pretty surreal, hard to believe, really,” she said. “But I guess I’ll start believing it once everything really kicks off into pre-season but at the moment, it’s really surreal.”

Growing up as a Richmond supporter, Lynch has quickly adapted to the black and white, donning the stripes for both the Oakleigh Chargers and Collingwood Magpies this year. Now she will have the opportunity to continue to dominate in those colours at the highest level.

From young admirer to footballer: Patrikios lives out her dream

CALDER Cannons star, Georgia Patrikios was simply following in her brother’s footsteps as a youngster.

Now, she is one of Calder’s key players, a multiple Vic Metro representative and a member of the AFL Women’s Academy. Patrikios admits she cannot believe that young admirer of football is now a player herself.

“Ever since I saw my brother step onto the field, it’s sort of been a dream of mine to do what he does,” she said. “Now, it’s become a reality.”

Part of the reality has included being selected to travel to the Gold Coast for this year’s AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships back in July. Although she’s pulled on the ‘Big V’ before, the 17 year-old is still honoured to do it again.

“It’s pretty special to me, playing with the best girls at Cannons and playing with the best girls in Victoria,” Patrikios said. “I’m glad I got the opportunity to do so.”

This has been largely thanks to her development at the Cannons. Playing under the likes of top-agers, Madison Prespakis, Carla Rendelmann and Molly Warburton has really helped Patrikios develop her game.

“Being a bottom-ager, playing with the older girls, it’s been real good learning off them,” she said. “The coaches and the facilities are also amazing.”

Out of this development, Patrikios has developed some clear strengths.

“I’d probably say maybe my speed and agility, they’re probably my best assets,” she said.

Being eligible for next year’s draft, Patrikios has a year to finesse her skills, noting an improvement she’d like to make in her game.

“I’d probably say my overhead mark and probably my one-on-one contest, just getting my body a bit stronger and a be able to win those one-one contests,” the 17 year-old said.

Now with some time off football, Patrikios will get away, but she will not exactly relax.

“I like to go away so I do a lot of work at my beach house, a lot of running, go to the gym with my brother, kick the footy with them,” she said.

This work will undoubtedly help Patrikios play a big part in the Cannons’ 2019 season, and help her relive her favourite football memory, which was lifting up the premiership cup with her Calder teammates. She admits this year was a tough one to endure, but it started to come together towards the back half of the season.

“It’s just how it goes, the older girls move up, the younger girls just have to step up,” the Vic Metro representative said. “I had a pretty interrupted pre-season. “I found the start of my season a bit shaky but then coming to the last few weeks of the season, I put a few good games together.”

Despite the TAC Cup Girls season being over, Patrikios still went back to her local club, Pascoe Vale in a bid to turn a couple of good games into a solid season.

“I’ve gone back to local club, just working on my skills there and a bit of fitness,” she said. “Then we go back to the Cannons every second week and just do some training, fix up what we need to.”

The Pascoe Vale Football Club has played a big part in Patrikios’ football development, making the transition from boys football at West Coburg to female football seamless. Now approaching her top-age year of football, Patrikios hopes to combine her career choice of being a personal trainer with football.

“I’m hoping to maybe do a course after school after Year 12, so that would be good,” she said. “But I’ll probably hone down on going to the gym, getting my body right and just working on those basic skills.”

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.”

Cann powers home with remarkable improvement

IF there is one player in the TAC Cup Girls competition who has come from the back of the pack to storm home in the final straight, it is Eastern Ranges’ Mikala Cann. Having starred as a sprinter, and enjoyed playing basketball, Cann decided to try her hand at football once her friends were taking up the sport.

“I was playing basketball before I played footy and a lot of my mates started playing so I think that was the biggest influence and I really love the physically side of basketball, so coming to footy it’s all about the physicality and I really loved that part,” Cann said. “That was the main influence right there.”

Having rocked up to Eastern Ranges try-outs in the pre-season and not sure what to expect, Cann not only managed to hold her own, she caused some jaw-dropping reactions with her ability to use her great combination of speed and strength in advantage. Eastern Ranges Female Talent Manager Jessie Mulholland singled out Cann as one to watch from the pre-season.

“Mikala Cann – she has never played football in her life and she’s definitely going to be a utility player [to watch],” Mulholland said. “She can run out of that 50 insanely. “She played midfield on the weekend [vs. Calder two weekends ago] and the way she can get that ball out of the centre square will be incredible to watch for somebody that has no idea. “Basically we have to teach her the rules from scratch.”

The assessment was something Cann could relate to, admitting the rules were an area she had to learn.

“I think it was the knowledge that a lot of the other girls had because they had that first year playing at Eastern and that was the difference,” Cann said. “Me trying to learn all the structures and the positions and just really learning about the game. “That was the biggest thing, really trying to learn where the ball is and where to stand and all that. But they’ve done really well and taught me a lot, so I’ve learnt a lot, it’s been really good.”

Cann said the development at the Ranges was first class and has helped her rapid rise to Vic Metro and named in the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year.

“Absolutely (love it),” the Eastern Ranges midfielder said. “I reckon I enjoy it (footy) more than basketball, I enjoy Eastern, there are such good people around. “I’ve loved every minute of it, it’s been so good. “I played a bit at school footy, but it was more just running around with mates. “It wasn’t really intensive skills or that. “I was just trying to kick a few snags, not in terms of technical stuff we do here.”

Cann said the physical nature of the game is what attracted her to the sport, and what she considered to be a major strength in her game.

“I think my strengths and what they really try teach me to do and focus on is my in and under, so tackling, and pressure and then trying to burst away from the contest too,” she said. “Getting in and under and getting it out and getting away too. “My physical side I try to focus on most.”

Along with her continued game sense, Cann said she was learning to kick on her opposite foot “as much as she didn’t want to”.

“Obviously the knowledge of the game,” she said. “Getting to the contests and knowing where the ball’s going to be, where to stand, how to read the tap from ruckman’s tap, they’re the biggest one. “Also my skill level too. “Using my left side, as much as I don’t want to, I have to as you get higher up, you’re going to need to start.”

Such has been Cann’s rise in the football ranks that the sprinter is now on the verge of a finals appearance for Hawthorn in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition. Once told of her call-up to Hawthorn intially, Cann could hardly believe it.

“Not really at all (expecting to be picked for VFLW), I was just trying to get picked every week,” Cann said. “I was really focusing on VFL and/or higher up and I think just focusing on each week has enabled me to really try and play the best each week and not really focus on it. “I like thinking in the now, rather than the future. “That’s really enabled me, but I never really thought about it.”

Cann said the close bond at Eastern made it an enjoyable year, and heading to the Gold Coast with so many teammates – and head coach Tom Humphrey – made it an easy transition into Vic Metro. The eye-catching runner said the team success had made everyone better players.

“I thought that we played really well against some really top quality sides and I think we developed and we got better as we got on, which is the best thing that can really happen is your improvement and individually,” Cann said. “I feel like I played well when the team played well. “When the team’s up and about, it gets everyone up and about.”

Cann said she was lucky not to have too much travel involved with her football saying she enjoyed the road trips.

“It’s not too bad, fortunately enough, mum loves coming to my games so she’ll always drive me,” she said. “I really like the driving to the games, the experience and the excitement for a game, I dunno, I love it. It’s not too bad.”

As for the next step in her career? Cann was determined to make it as high up as possible.

“Yeah to get drafted is the end-goal,” Cann said. “I guess that’s for everyone, but we’ll see how we go.”

Consistent Connor continues to make the most of his TAC Cup journey

WHEN he missed out on getting the call-up to Vic Metro, Connor Thar was admittedly “pretty shattered”. But instead of worry about the things outside of his control, Thar buckled down in the TAC Cup and became the most prominent ball winner in the competition. The Western Jets midfielder has racked up 412 disposals at an average of 25.75 per game, playing every game in 2018 and has been ranked in the top five for clearances, and top 10 for tackles. His final round was quite possibly his best, racking up 32 disposals on his way to the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Player of the Week award for Round 16.

“I’m very passionate about the game,” Thar said earlier in the season. “Coming to training I always wanted to improve and learn, work on my craft and the relationships you have with footy, nothing can beat it. “The coaches, the friends you make, even people that aren’t in the team at the moment, you’re friends with them for life anyway and that’s the main thing. “Going out on the weekend and getting wins and after the game celebrating, it’s like all the hard work has paid off and nothing beats that.”

Thar has been lucky enough to have plenty of continuity in his game, playing for Werribee Districts his whole life, joining the Western Jets system as soon as he could, and has been a part of that system ever since. He has been exposed to the first teams in each of his years despite his slight stature (174cm and 69kg at the start of the season). For Thar, he wanted to build his fitness in 2018, while using his smarts around the ground to play the game on his terms.

“The way I can read the game, my football IQ (is my main strength),” Thar said. “I’m not the fittest boy going around, but I use my smarts and my brains around the field, my quick hands and my silkiness around the ground helps me. “Definitely my fitness, every Tuesday I come to training earlier, I work with Tony the boxing coach, do a couple of rounds of boxing. “That’s pretty tough, and then on the weekends I do two cardio sessions trying to improve the cardiovascular side of it.”

Thar has played predominantly midfield in 2018, reflecting his huge ball-winning numbers, but he has shown the capability to play anywhere on the field.

“Last year I played everywhere, I played on the wing, backline, forward,” Thar said. “I went back for a couple of games and that was different, that was a good, new role. “I was able to get my hands on the ball. “The defensive side I was still improving on, but I like going forward as well. “Everywhere you play, you’ve got different styles, you have to put into the game.”

The top-age Jet is level headed and understands the reality of the draft system – with so many players striving to play AFL, you have to stand out and push yourself to the limits. For Thar, he goes out each and every week never losing the faith, as shown in his consistency.

“It’s been my dream my whole life really,” Thar said. “Obviously there’s a little voice in your head saying it’s not always going to happen, you’re aware of that, but you’ve got to aim high and that’s what I’ve been trying to do, but I’ve set my little goals to get there, and it’s obviously everyone here at the Jets dream, it’s everyone’s dream to play AFL. “It’s a long road ahead but it’s the dream.”

As for the Jets, they are headed into a finals series with the Wild Card Round match against the Eastern Ranges this weekend ahead of an elimination final with Oakleigh Chargers, should Western defeat the Ranges. Thar said the team had belief in its system and everyone was on the same page.

“There was a lot of hype around this season because last year we always knew we had real good bottom-age talent and everyone had the right mindset coming into the season,” he said. “We all knew that if we put our minds to it, we could have a big season. “It showed with our start. “There’s a lot of positivity around the club, everyone wants to get better and improve, and it shows on the training track, we’re all connected.”

Bate kicking goals at all levels

HOLLY Bate has never really listened to popular opinion. If she had, she might never have joined Prahran and kick-started a football career that would see her take out the TAC Cup Girls Leading Goalkicker Award in her top-age year. Looking back, Bate is glad she took the chance on running around with the boys.

“Well I have a twin brother and it was about Under 9s and he played his first game of footy at Prahran junior footy club,” Bate said. “I went to watch and I was like ‘that’s so cool, like ‘I really want to play’, but I was the only girl and would be the only girl on the team so I was like ‘I can’t really play’. “I didn’t really think much of it, but everyone else was like ‘it’s a bit weird’ and so I was like ‘nup I want to play’ so I just joined up and was playing with the boys and I got along really well with the boys so it was an easy transition to start playing.”

The Sandringham Dragons forward burst onto the scene in 2018 when she booted 12 goals in two games against Western Jets and Bendigo Pioneers and snatched the leading goalkicker award.

“I didn’t really think much of it,” Bate said. “It kinda just happened, I didn’t really set out to try and win the goal kicking. “I think those few games we played at Trevor Barker were pretty handy. “I didn’t really celebrate it, I must say.”

Bate believed it took until later in the season for her to rise up above the level she had admittedly been at for some time, but is glad she did, enjoying her football on the way to representing Vic Metro at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships.

“I found that I came into it at a level I’d been at for a while now at the end of the last season,” Bate said. “I felt I had stepped up a bit, had improved. “I learned how to play forward at a more complex level. “It was quite enjoyable.”

Speaking of the championships, Bate was thrilled to run out representing her state alongside so many other talented players.

“It’s pretty full on,” she said. “I’ve never properly done this before. “It’s more elite than anything I’ve done, but it’s really good. I love it.”

Like so many others, Bate has noticed a definite standard increase amongst the competition describing the TAC Cup Girls as having “improved out of sight”. Now the Sandringham Dragons teenager hopes to keep playing at the highest possible level, following a newly found dream of playing AFL Women’s.

“(It’s) not always (been my dream to be drafted), because I never thought women’s footy would be a thing in my career,” Bate said. “Now it’s got going, I’m definitely playing now.”

Undecided about what she wants to do in her career just yet, she hopes to go to university once her Year 12 studies are over, something she has learnt to balance.

“Doing Year 12 it’s pretty busy at the moment, it’s very full on, but I’ve found ways to balance it all out,” she said.

Aside from the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Bate has also tasted senior football with the Southern Saints in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, kicking a goal on debut and continuing her passion of playing as high as possible in the football pathway.

Scouting notes: U17s – Vic Country vs Queensland

IN the first game at Ikon Park yesterday, Vic Country defeated Queensland in an exciting contest. We review all the players from both teams.

Vic Country:

By: Peter Williams and Craig Byrnes

#1 Kobe Brown

Had an early shot on goal on the run, but had an unlucky bounce and it went to the wrong side and out of bounds. A highlight-worthy moment came later in the game when he cleanly picked up the ball off the deck and side-stepped an opponent on the forward 50 arc. Fantastic agility.

#2 Jye Chalcraft

One of the more impressive Country players, Chalcraft showed fantastic strength and composure inside the forward 50 arc. We already knew he had top-class agility, but he went out with a real desire to hunt the football and the ball carrier in a contested brand of football. Spent a little bit of time through midfield, but majority inside 50, booting a goal in the final term to ice the game for Country. Laid some fantastic tackles and almost had a goal early in the game but just missed on the run.

#4 Jarryd Barker

Had one of the best clearances out of the middle early on, managing to burst away and hit-up a teammate lace-out in the first term by lowering the eyes. From then on it was a workman-like performance, laying some big tackles and he did well by hand or foot, lowering the eyes going inside 50. He had a shot on goal in the final term, but missed to the right. He still accumulated the footy, but a lot of it was in the contest, and often feeding it out to teammates, playing an important role at the stoppages.

#5 Flynn Perez

An exciting talent who oozes X-factor. His consistency throughout games still needs to improve, but when he has the ball he can do some magical things with it. He lowers his eyes going inside 50 and hit-up Fraser Phillips coming through the midfield when he was coming off half-back. Clean hands at ground level and his closing speed is top-notch. He was used in transition going forward, and was rewarded for hard running by playing deeper, marking 35m out and converting the set shot.

#6 Riley Baldi

An absolutely huge first half, having the ball on a string and seemingly covering the ground with ease. He was strong at the packs, winning clearances, cracking in hard at the contested ball and just extracting the ball to teammates in space. He was moved around in the second half, from half-back to half-forward and did not have as much impact as the first half through the guts, but he was still very solid and got to the right positions when required.

#7 Mitch Martin

Some players seem to step up at the higher level, and Mitch Martin was one of those players today. At the Rebels, Martin is always solid, but with the extra time and space, and plenty of midfield minutes, he thrived on the open spaces of Ikon Park. His kicking was sublime and equally matched by his vision. He is not a huge accumulator, but every time he won it, he seemed to use it well, setting up Flynn Perez for a goal in the third term. He almost kicked one himself after a good mark but missed to the right.

#8 Lachlan Williams

Cracked in hard and while he was another who did not win a lot of it, he had a couple of ‘wow’ moments in the third term. He used great vision to kick inside to Fraser Phillips, then teamed up with Phillips again with a pin-point pass to his teammates’ advantage amongst a pack of Queensland opponents who had zoned off in defence.

#9 Fraser Phillips

Building a rich vein of form of late and that continued on the weekend, with some really good play inside 50. He is a good runner and moved up to half-forward well, kicking inside 50 with good precision. He lowers the eyes when entering the 50 and gave his teammates chances to score. Booted a goal early in the peace by running back with the flight and nailing the short-range set shot, and just missed a couple of chances later on in the game.

#10 Leo Connolly

Provided good pressure on his opponents to force turnovers, and in one instant, took a mark off the next possession from the turnover. Laid a massive tackle early to bring his opponent to ground and keep the ball in the middle.

#12 Isaac Wareham

Not his best game, but was playing a defensive role in the back half. Just kept a close eye on his opponent at all times.

#13 Izaac Grant

Ultra-impressed with what Grant showed at IKON Park. Coming into the game I hoped to see if he could play a role other than the pigeonholed small forward which he has been thus far, and he showed some serious intent, not just in the midfield, but in contested situations as well. He was a lovely kick in space and not only used quick hands, but blocked an opponent while handballing to a teammate to give his teammate an extra couple of seconds. One of the better field kicks out there, and still showed his vertical leap. Did not kick a goal which is his forte, but his game was better than matches where he has kicked multiple goals – another string to his bow.

#14 Tye Hourigan

He plied his trade in defence as he usually does for Gippsland with commitment. While he only stands at 188cm, Hourigan is very capable in a key position role and is difficult to move off the ball. He generally reads the ball before his opponent, as shown during the third term when he took a strong intercept mark. More of a stopper at this stage, but I feel there is another offensive gear in him.

#15 Jake Van der Plight

Was in and out of the game a bit, but generally produced quality moments when he got his hands on the ball. Starting mostly on the wing, he ran up and down the ground, winning an excellent ground ball in the defensive 50 during the third term which was sharply released by hand. He is a lovely size at 188cm and is capable of playing multiple positions. He is another Gippsland bottom ager to keep an eye on next year.

#16 Jesse Clark

Clark looks an interesting type behind the ball. He was particularly calm when he gained possession in the defensive arc, displaying good skills and well thought out decisions. During the second term he was given the ball under pressure deep inside defensive 50, but found a teammate in the corridor by foot with minimal fuss to release the immediate pressure. I’m looking forward to having a closer look over the next 15 months or so.

#17 Riley Ironside

After a relatively quiet first half, Ironside came to life in the third term with a lovely left foot pass inside 50 to Martin. That classy piece of play saw him become more involved and while he shanked a set shot not long after, he started having an influence at the stoppages and spread to offensive positions. He hit another brilliant left foot pass inside 50 to Williams in the final quarter to show he has some forward of centre weapons at his disposal.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Boyer was another player who was dangerous running out of the back half, moving the ball forward with speed whenever he got the opportunity. Vic Country looked likely of scoring when he had the ball and his kicking was first rate on most occasions. While his offensive football was what immediately stood out, he also laid a heavy tackle in the third term to earn a holding the ball free kick.

#20 James Schischka

The Bendigo Pioneer was one of Vic Country’s better players on the day, controlling things in defence with his ability to read the play quickly and peel off his man when required. He took two strong intercept marks in the first term that appeared to spark his confidence to get to as many aerial contests as he could. While there were times he had to play deep KPD, when the opportunity presented he would look to swap with an opponent and get in the dangerous space. He laid a vital tackle in the final term to finish off a very solid outing.

#21 Darcey Chirgwin

Chirgwin was one of Vic Country’s more impressive performers and arguably produced the most transferrable AFL attributes. He is a tall inside midfielder who stands 190cm and while he looked lanky at times, he presented moments of class and time under pressure that would have excited the club representatives in the stands. In the first half he spun around an opponent with ease to kick inside 50. Later in the game after being disposed, he gathered the ball cleanly, regained balance and brilliantly hit a target near the arc. He looks a likely type.

#22 Sam De Koning

Battled well by manning some of Queensland’s taller forwards. He killed a few long Queensland entrances and took the kick outs on occasions. He perhaps would have liked to use the ball better at times, but is usually a reliable kick.

#23 Zac Skinner

Having lacked opportunities at Gippsland due to so many other tall options, Skinner would have enjoyed the chance to spend more extended periods on the ground. He started the game well, taking a mark on the lead inside 50 early in the first term. He was then rotated in the ruck, showing a soft touch in the air and was especially clean below his knees for a 199cm kid. He has composure with the ball and often makes good decisions by hand.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

The 195cm Nyuon provided some eye catching athleticism with his minutes forward and in the ruck, especially the latter where his outstanding vertical leap often won him the hit out. He gave his midfielders some excellent taps to advantage without breaking stride and competed defensively when the ball hit the ground. He didn’t win much of the ball, but that will come with further development.

#25 Josh Smith

The big, bullocking forward had a day out inside 50, kicking four goals and had a huge influence on the result. He made his presence known early in the game, taking a strong mark in the pocket and kicking truly with a brilliantly executed banana set shot. He demanded the ball all day and took a huge contested mark inside 50 during the third quarter. His work wasn’t all done in the air either, as he cleanly picked up a ground ball in the fourth term to set up a scoring chain. His fourth goal gave Vic Country the lead to end a great outing in the best possible way.

#26 Aaron Gundry

The 198cm Bendigo tall struggled to get consistently involved, but showed signs throughout the game forward and at times in the ruck. His best moment came deep inside in the pocket where he cleanly collected the ball and handballed to Smith for a goal assist.

Queensland:

By: Michael Alvaro and Ed Pascoe

#1 Danial Davidson

Davidson was slow to come into the game but began to rack up more possessions as the contest wore on. His tackling was good as a smaller midfielder, and he showed a willingness to attack the ball when the game was up for grabs in the second half.

#3 Hawego Paul Oea

The smooth moving forward posed a threat throughout the game with his pace and ability to find space in good areas. With ball in hand, Oea looked to move it on more often than not and was a valuable link between the wing and forward 50. He provided a smart assist to Will Martyn with a cutting ball from near the boundary in the fourth term, putting his smarts on full show.

#5 Corey Joyce

Joyce covers the ground really well and showed a solid work rate from the wing. While he didn’t rack up as much of the ball as in previous Maroons outings, Joyce was clean in possession and showed good agility in traffic. He has the potential to play above his size too, as he gets himself in handy positions to intercept and impact contests around the ground.

#6 Jack Wingrave

Wingrave was entrusted with the kick-out duties early on and spent most of his time in the defensive half. His long kicking out of the back is an asset, and he used it to good effect when clearing his own arc. A highlight of Wingrave’s game was a tough tussle with Country’s Fraser Phillips late in the piece, where the two battled hard for the ball deep in Country’s 50 with little separating the sides, showing his willingness to compete.

#7 Lachlan Barry

Sporting a yellow headband, Barry did not find huge amounts of the ball in his deep forward role but had a decent last quarter. He laid a hard tackle in the final term and hit up big-man Samson Ryan with a pin-point pass into the forward 50, which was his best moment.

#8 Coby Williams

Williams was another who was quiet until later on, but he made his presence felt with a big tackle on Country star Jye Chalcraft in the fourth quarter, as well as a nice intercept mark in the centre square to cap off his day.

#9 Connor Budarick

The skipper was one of the Maroons’ best throughout the day with an all-round performance from midfield. The Allies and Gold Coast Academy star has good speed around the contest and showed tenacity to win much of his own ball from the stoppages. He may be small in stature, but Budarick is solid and stood up in tackles – despite being caught holding the ball once in the third term. He bounced back from that with a nice take-on and run from half-back not long after.

#10 Jack Moseley

Moseley showed glimpses of promise from half-back, looking a natural footballer. Despite starting off with a crude in the back free kick against him, he went on to prove his worth with displays of agility and a cool head in traffic. His highlight was managing to deliver a perfect kick to Hawego Paul Oea after keeping his hands up and evading a tackler, showing off a bit of class.

#14 Will Martyn

Martyn was arguably his side’s best in an industrious midfield shift. While he was fumbly early on, the Brisbane Academy member continued to crash in and win the ball out of the stoppages through brute force. Martyn’s kicking improved alongside his handling as the game progressed, with some good balls inside 50 providing scoring opportunities. His final term was particularly impressive, as he stood courageously under a loopy ball to take a mark and slot his first goal, backing it up shortly after with a second set shot major to put his side in front, with an early celebration to boot.

#15 Bruce Reville

The wingman was another Maroon to really impress with good athletic traits and a knack for finding the footy in dangerous areas. Reville has good handles and can gather the ball at pace, highlighted by a nice gather at speed from a third term centre bounce. Based on the wing for most of the game, Reville had a brief stint at the centre bounces to start the second half, but quickly moved back outside where he continued to assist his forwards with effective inside 50 entries.

#16 Campbell Aston

Aston was quiet but battled hard in the back half, recording nine disposals. His highlight was a solid grab against the highly touted Riley Baldi in the first term where he showed good attack on the footy.

#17 Josh Gore

Gore continued his good form in the Queensland jumper with another effective display up forward. While he only managed the one major this time around, Gore had plenty of opportunities and was able to find the ball inside 50 well. His goal came from a decent mark backing deep towards the goalsquare in the second term, and he converted the set shot. Gore worked to find the ball further up the ground in the second half and proved calm when delivering the ball forward. He also laid a solid holding the ball tackle in the third quarter to cap an all-round game.

#18 Brandon Deslands

Deslands started the game in defence and was trusted with a kick out, you used his solid kicking up the ground more in the third and fourth quarter. Deslands managed to get some time in the midfield in the last quarter getting involved and laying a nice tackle.

#19 Gracen Sproule

Sproule played as a forward and he showed great movement and skill throughout the day. His best quarter came in the second when he kicked a nice long goal from beyond 50. What stood out from Sproule was his clean takes on the run and clean use by hand and his ability to move through traffic.

#21 Matthew Fraser

Had a quiet day but he looked good at ground level with his front and square work really impressing, he read the ball well and was clean at ground level. Fraser was not afraid to tackle and have an impact when the ball was in his area.

#22 Thomas Jeffrey

Jeffrey was impactful with his strong marking ability and long kicking being used to effect all over the ground. He had a lovely kick inside 50 in the 2nd quarter and got involved in a nice passage of play in the last quarter showing both his good marking and kicking ability.

#23 Sam Butler

A good user of the ball throughout the day, his best moment came with a good long kick to the hot spot in the first quarter hitting up teammate Matthew Conroy. Butler was neat with his handballing and his kicking was sound.

#24 Nickolas Haberer

Haberer played well down back taking some nice intercept marks and providing some good spoils and using his body well in one-on-one contests. Haberer did the defensive acts well with good tackling and spoiling while also using the ball well down back.

#26 Matthew Conroy

Conroy made a statement in the first half kicking a nice set shot goal in the first quarter and kicking a long bomb in the second quarter which hyped up his team. He competed well in the ruck and up forward before a quieter second half.

#27 Ashton Crossley

Queensland’s best player on the day, Crossley was industrious through he midfield using his strong body to crash packs and win the contested ball. Early in the game he had a few long kicks which were not accurate, but he improved as the game went on with one of his kicks in the last quarter coming from a nice mark and then unleashing a long penetrating kick out wide. His strong marking and contested ability was important for Queensland around the ground and he was a solid four-quarter player.

#28 Max Newman

Newman did some nice things down back with some timely spoils with one on the last line in the third quarter. Not a huge game but played his role well. 

#30 Joshua Hammond

Hammond was one of the better defenders for Queensland with some fantastic spoiling efforts especially in the first quarter where he was most prominent. Hammond did not get much of the ball but he did not give his opponents an inch and if he was not spoiling he was tackling hard and blocking for teammates. With a bit more confidence it would be good to see how well he could rebound himself to really make him a more complete modern day defender. 

#32 Thomas Wischnat

Wischnat was a permanent forward often giving good leads but wasn’t always rewarded. He kicked a nice snap goal in the first quarter and he took a nice lead up mark in the 2nd although he missed the set shot. Wischnat could have done more at ground level but also could have hit the scoreboard harder with better supply from teammates.

#33 Sampson Ryan

The 203cm Ryan not only use his height to his advantage in the ruck, but also managed to keep involved all over the ground working into defence to intercept and also resting forward, providing a good option despite spraying many of his opportunities at goal. What stood out with Ryan was his smarts around the ground for a ruckman with some nice visions by hand and even a solid opposite foot kick in the last quarter.

Humble O’Connor learns a lot from her football opportunities

NORTHERN Knights ruck, Neve O’Connor did not think she would be a part of the TAC Cup Girls program. Nor did she think she would be selected for Vic Metro.

The 18 year-old ticked both those boxes this year and is enjoying learning about Australian Rules through these opportunities. Before she played at the Knights, O’Connor was selected to play for the Calder Cannons, which kick-started her positive football experience.

“I first started at Calder Cannons when I was a youth before there was TAC,” she said. “I didn’t think that would happen (getting selected for Calder). “It was really good and definitely a great experience, and playing two seasons at the Knights has been amazing for my development and it’s just such a good culture. “I’ve learnt so much about my footy.”

O’Connor has continued to learn about her own game at the Northern Knights, but has also benefited from learning about her teammates’ style of football. Despite being one of the older players at the club, the 18 year-old says she has learned just as much off the younger players at the Knights and sees a bright future ahead for them.

“A few times at training, they’d (younger players) show me up and I would just kind of sit back and say ‘woah’,” O’Connor admitted. “Especially Ellie McKenzie, I wonder what she’ll be like in a couple of years. “I just think it was really great to see that we had depth for the future, I can’t wait to see where they go.”

Combining older and younger talent has been very beneficial for the Knights, who reached the maiden TAC Cup Girls Grand Final. Although they fell short to the Geelong Falcons, O’Connor says she is extremely proud of the achievement of getting to the big stage.

“To be in the Grand Final was phenomenal and to lose by a pretty small amount was pretty annoying,” she said. “But I’m still so proud of the fact that we had such a young team and we went really well against a developing natural team like Geelong.”

O’Connor is not surprised that her side made the Grand Final, as she sensed good things from her teammates just from training with them.

“I knew from the start that we had a really good team,” she said. “When the girls trained, we all bonded really quickly and worked pretty well together.”

Although she is focused on football now, O’Connor’s childhood consisted of many sports. As a junior, she participated in basketball, dancing, cricket and also trampolining. But when she stumbled across football, it was hard for her to look back, as she enjoyed the sport immediately.

“I first started (playing football) when I was 14,” the 18 year-old said. “I played basketball and a mix of other sports. “Then I played footy in PE (Physical Education) for two weeks. “My coach was starting a girls team and he sent me down there.”

Little did she know that four years later, she would be selected to represent her state. O’Connor met the opportunity with emotion, and was very grateful to have received the coveted invite to play for Vic Metro.

“It was such a relief, this season especially, because there were a lot of excellent rucks in the competition,” she said. “When I got the letter, I did cry a little. “I was so relieved to just get it. “I teared up, I couldn’t help it.”

Currently in Year 12, O’Connor’s career path is different to some other Under 18 players, but she shares the same focus with them.

“I think I’ll be taking a gap year to get out of school and try something new,” she said. “I’ll definitely be pursuing footy and see how I go. “Next year would be great but I’ll take each week as it comes and that sort of thing.”