IT was a cracking weekend of Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s football where the ladder-leaders went down and TAC Cup Girls players shone in their respective games. We watched three games on the weekend and took notes on who performed well in each outing.
Southern Saints vs. NT Thunder
By: Peter Williams
#8 Alison Drennan
It’s clear she is a big ball winner through the midfield, covering ground with ease and getting to contest after contest. She lays plenty of tackles and burrows in under the packs. Drennan also has a nice first few steps to charge away from a contest and kick forward.
#10 Lauren Arnell
The former Blues skipper now Lion, was one of the Saints’ best early on, booting a goal late in the first quarter leading to space and kicking truly for a long range set shot. She had another in the second term but it was touched on the line. Provided some important nous up forward.
#15 Tara Bohanna
Booted a great goal off a step from a loose ball in the second term, and finished the game with three majors to be the dominant forward on the ground. Put an end to the contest with her two majors in the final quarter within a few minutes of each other to hand the Saints a vital win.
#24 Kayla Ripari
Played up forward and I thought immediately ‘her stats won’t look good but she is doing everything right’. The kind of forward who hunts the ball, hunts her opponents and just continues to play the brand of football teammates love. She crashes packs, gives off handballs, applies shepherds, does all the one percenters and thought she did a terrific job.
#30 Charlotte Wilson
The Eastern Ranges defender was really impressive on debut, particularly in the first term where she often got in front of her opponent, won the ball with clean hands and handballed clear. She was courageous and not afraid to switch play when she had a chance. Took a few strong marks back there too.
#33 Jemma Owen
Good defensive pressure up forward and along the wing, showing good vision on her knees to handball into space to a teammate without her breaking stride in the opening term. In the second quarter she was agressive and laid a shepherd so Ripari could get a clear kick to Bohanna in the second quarter for a goal.
#35 Gabriella De Angelis
A hard-working, clever player who had a couple of real highlights. In the opening term she had a smart pick-up near the boundary line and had the composure to kick in-board to the leading Lauren Arnell who goaled. Then in the second term, De Angelis showed off her work rate by receiving the pass on the wing from Shelley Heath, then kicked to half-forward, sprinted hard into the forward line and was involved in the next pass deep inside 50.
#39 Eleanor Brown
Can find the ball with ease and moves well for a taller player. Clean and just got involved around the ground, playing in her preferred wing position. She showed quick hands on both the inside and outside to keep it moving. The one improvement I would give to her is to not get too sucked in to the play because I noticed her opponent would drift out into space behind her while she ran towards the contest. Another solid performance though.
#42 Courtney Jones
Started on the bench and came on to have an immediate impact. Her first pass was a perfectly weighted kick to Lauren Arnell on the wing. She showed good hands at ground level to handball to a teammate in space and applied some good hip-and-shoulders. Jones took a strong intercept mark in defence and kicked long to Shelley Heath.
#43 Shelley Heath
The best of the TAC Cup Girls and looked natural at the level. Despite being smaller than her opponents, she never stopped running and generally used the ball pretty well. She was not afraid to back into a contest and won a free kick in one instance because she was pushed in the back doing so. Reads the ball well in the air or at ground level and showed great hands in close. A huge cheer came in the second term when she stood strongly in a marking contest to spoil, her opponent recovered, picked up the ball, ran off, but Heath did not give up and ran her down, earning a free kick.
#49 Ashleigh Allsopp
Kicked the opening goal of the game, roving forward to read the ball drop off hands.
#3 Angela Foley
Just wins so much of the ball and works hard on the inside. She is a strong tackler and a piercing kick of the football. She showed great vision and smarts to chop off a Gabriella De Angelis pass and kick forward, cutting short a potential goal surge from the Saints. Foley is a powerful kick and was NT’s best early, winning the ball in all thirds of the ground.
#5 Machaelia Roberts
Put her body on the line in the opening term, had a running shot on goal but was tackled doing so and it just missed. Worked hard in the forward line, providing a strong body and pressure to her opponents down there.
#12 Jasmine Anderson
A big contributor through the midfield, she often played on some of the talented TAC Cup Girls in Eleanor Brown or Shelley Heath, and won her fair share of the footy. She worked well with Angela Foley and Emma Swanson in the middle and spread out to the wings, winning it on the outside and kicking forward.
#17 Emma Swanson
A really strong tackler. Just fierce with the way she went about it, making sure her opponents earned every touch and won a number of frees for holding the ball. She worked hard on the inside and applied plenty of defensive pressure to the ball carrier so the Saints midfielders knew to be wary of her around the stoppages.
#25 Jess Allan
A superb job in the ruck, I thought she was one of their best. Her hands were good and she was mobile with her second efforts. She often won the tap, then roved her own work, but the most noticeable thing was her spread around the ground. She would take the important contested mark or intercept grab at half-forward or half-back, and ran hard to get to positions to impact.
#31 Jess Sedunary
Had a highlight moment in the first term, booting a goal off the ground in the goal square, just pouncing on the loose ball and using her smarts to get the Thunder on the board. It was not a day for forwards, but Sedunary kept trying throughout.
Casey Demons vs. Western Bulldogs
By: Peter Williams
#7 Bianca Jakobsson
Donning the long sleeves, Jakobsson took some great overhead marks and just kept getting involved across the four quarters. A contributor without being dominant, Jakobsson was a good link in the chain from defence to midfield, pushing up the ground and influencing the contest.
#13 Katherine Smith
A big game from Smith who was one of Casey’s best in the wet. She laid some fantastic tackles, including one on the opposition ruck in the final term. Buzzed around the stoppages and won it on the inside or out, and also did all the defensive things right. Played what you would call a wet weather brand of footy and led by example.
#16 Casey Sheriff
Really liked her game because she never took a backwards step. Just so strong in close, and the amount of times she would extract the ball from a tight situation was amazing. On one occasion she ripped the ball from an opposition player and got it out of the zone. She also showed her smarts by being able to have a deft kick avoiding her opponent who was about to pounce.
#21 Harriet Cordner
Had a shot on goal on the edge of three quarter time and just nailed it – it was perfect in the wet and luckily it just cleared the line. Got more involved in the final term, producing a thumping kick off half-back while standing up in the tackle. Pumped the ball long inside 50 in the final term too.
#22 Kasey Guthridge
Showed some promising signs, just needs to build confidence. Won a few frees and threatened to break the lines, but sometimes stop-started. Took some good marks around the ground and had a good long kick.
#29 Eden Zanker
The key forward was enormous in conditions that were not suited for taller players, taking several strong grabs, or bringing the ball down in front and working hard with second efforts to pass to teammates in space. She took a great mark sliding on her knees in the opening term, and was unlucky not to have a goal earlier with a snap just being rushed through. A second quarter set shot just missed, with the kick travelling 50 metres, showing her ability to fire from long range. She presented up the ground throughout the game, making leads out of the forward 50, and assisted with rucking when up forward, showing a good vertical leap. A very impressive performance, unlucky not to be rewarded with at least a goal or two.
#34 Darcy Guttridge
Really good early on, has that great acceleration and fearlessness through the contest. She has quick hands and once she sees an opening she takes it. Her power through acceleration is great, and she has a lovely long penetrating kick. She has the smarts when under pressure at ground level to punch it clear, using good vision to spot a teammate free on the outside. Works well through traffic and is really suited to the half-back role with the way she attacks the contest and kicks cleanly.
#38 Jordyn Allen
Played a role similar to the one we have become accustomed to at half-back in the TAC Cup Girls competition. She would win the football in the defensive half and kick long to the wing. Often her kicks are more to the advantage of her teammates rather than directly to them, but she has good decision making which helps. She was clean despite the conditions, and worked hard up the ground to win possessions on the wing as well.
#49 Brooke Struylaart
The Dandenong Stingrays’ AFL Women’s Academy member kicked a great opportunistic goal from a snap out of nothing, showing her great goal sense.
#1 Brooke Lochland
A severely underrated player in the whole scheme on things. She has that great balance between offence and defence, and can hurt the opposition in a number of ways – kicking goals and running them down in bone-crunching tackles. She looked dangerous from the get-go with a number of chances early, hitting the post from a 20 metre set shot. But she worked hard, laying some fierce tackles, and pushed up the ground, then worked back, tiring her opponents. She took a great mark dropping back inside 50 in the third term and slotted the goal from 20 metres out on a slight angle. One of the Dogs best.
#2 Ellie Blackburn
In her debut game, Blackburn only lasted a half before coming off after a hard hit late in the second term. She played her usual game, winning plenty of it on the inside and running to the outside, and the opposition let her know they were there, with Blackburn drawing a number of free kicks. A true warrior, hopefully it is not a major injury.
#6 Kirsten McLeod
The forward ended up being the most damaging for the winners on the scoreboard, slotting two goals, including the first of the game with a quick pick-up and snap off a step. She made it two with another snap in the third term and had a chance for a third in the final term, but her shot went across the face. She laid a number of tackles and put pressure on her opponents both up forward and through the midfield.
#12 Jessica Francke
The Bulldogs forward took a good mark deep in the pocket in the second term, but her shot just missed. She did not manage to kick a major after a good game last week, but showed a good set of mits in the wet weather and led at the football, taking some strong grabs and using her body well one-on-one.
#17 Hayley Wildes
A smart player who pounced on a loose ball and ran into an open goal for the Dogs’ second goal. She was instrumental throughout the game, stepping up particularly when Ellie Blackburn went off, and refused to give in, putting in a four-quarter effort and covering the ground well.
18 Libby Birch
The important rebounder off half-back, Birch continued to remain involved throughout the four quarters. She has that smart sense to know when to push up the ground, and when to drop back. She would have recorded plenty of metres gained as she often intercept marks and takes off down the wing. She had a good deep kick inside 50 in the third term and worked hard throughout the game with good running.
#32 Alyssa Mifsud
Another Dogs forward who provides the dual-edge sword of offensive and defensive pressure on the opposition. She harasses the ball carrier and has great second and third efforts, never giving in and eventually laying a strong tackle on the possessor of the pill. Did not end up with a goal, but continually pressed hard in the attacking end.
#51 Katarina Rebuffo
The Western Jets player did not look out of place in the contest when the ball came in her zone. She showed a willingness to lay tackles and put pressure on the ball carrier.
Hawthorn vs. Essendon
By: Julia Montesano
#8 Rebecca Beeson
Beeson did not disappoint. She went in hard for every ball that she could, demonstrated when she went head-first into a contest. Although she came off groggy, she still got straight back up and prepared for the next incoming contest. She bobbed up in a lot of spots for the Hawks throughout the day, taking some lovely marks and using her speed and smarts to move play on quickly. She delivered some nice kicks on the day as well, proving to be a vital link in the chain. Was lively in the forward line as well where she has had so much success for Greater Western Sydney (GWS).
#22 Tamara Luke
Luke was damaging in the first quarter, booting the opening goal of the game in a matter of seconds, prompting an opening of the floodgates for the Hawks. After spending most of last year in defence, she looked right at home up forward at Box Hill, kicking two goals for the day. Her work rate was exceptional as she didn’t just sit back in the goal square. She made her direct opponent for most of the game, Tanya Hetherington work hard as Luke often found herself taking big grabs at the top of the 50 metre arc, creating scoring opportunities with her booming kick. Hetherington and teammate, Lauren Morecroft had to rotate playing on Luke because of her domination in the forward line. Great game from the experienced player.
#25 Meg Hutchins
Hutchins was composed with the ball in hand and provided fantastic outside run. Her kicks were penetrating and precise, giving her teammates prime opportunity to run a mock up forward. She was often the spare player in a contest, always ready to receive a handball or kick on the outside, demonstrating her exquisite positioning throughout the day. Loves to wheel around and go.
#37 Jade Barnden
Yet another debutant who impressed in her first outing for the Hawks. A classy runner that knew how to find the footy, Barnden used it well and was always there to help a teammate out. Her pressure around the ball was good and resulted in her getting a lot of it. She often generated good outside run and had solid hands throughout the day.
#45 Mikala Cann
Cann was superb in her Hawthorn debut. There was a never a moment where she did not go in hard for the footy, showing constant hunger and determination. After two early behinds, Cann got on the board with a running goal, being rewarded for her hard work in the contest. Usually it is her hands that are exceptional when she plays for the Eastern Ranges, but at Box Hill, her kicks were just as good. What stood out for me was her follow up work, as she proved how impressive her endurance is by running through after the kick and getting into a good position to receive the ball again.
#1 Jessica Trend
Trend was a key cog in defence, penetrating the ball well in the back line. Her kicks were long and she used them to effect to rebound the ball whenever she could. She positioned herself well against bigger bodies and did whatever she could to win the ball. Even floated up forward to kick Essendon’s second goal. Pressured well in defence to ensure that Hawthorn only scored five goals from 16 scoring shots.
#17 Tanya Hetherington
Hetherington was dealt with a big task in her first game for the Bombers, having to play on Tamara Luke. Hetherington competed well and was great aerially, bringing down some strong marks. She brought vital experience and footy smarts to the back line which the Bombers are in need of. Never did too much with the ball in hand and always tried her best to create slingshot footy from the defensive 50. Was thrown up forward in the last quarter to provide a target for the Bombers, which is a move that could occur throughout the season.
#32 Tait Mackrill
Just like in round one, Mackrill was one of Essendon’s best players. She crashed in hard at the contests, often bollocking her way through two or three players to surge the ball forward. Her marking was spectacular and was often in a contested situation, demonstrating good composure in congestion. Her kicks were long and strong, often getting the Bombers out of trouble. She was a big part of Essendon’s manic pressure game. Was thrown forward to try and steer the ship for the Bombers and competed well.
#35 Valerie Moreau
The Canadian jet competed hard at Box Hill, bollocking her way through contests. She kicked Essendon’s first goal of the day and was lively inside 50. Her kicking was sound and she worked hard to get the ball both on the inside and outside. Faded in and out of the game but overall she did well to keep Essendon in the game throughout the second and third quarters, applying plenty of pressure on her opponent.
#44 Maddy Collier
I thought Collier was Essendon’s best player on the day. She worked immensely hard to get the ball and created run and drive. While the Bombers struggled with the ball inside 50, Collier was always there to mop up errors. She had great hands and kicked the ball just as well, demonstrating composure with the ball in hand. Never seemed rushed to get a kick away and held the fort down well for the Bombers throughout the second and third quarter, where they pressured the opposition hard.