WITH the equal-most All-Australian nominations, Vic Country’s flawless series two AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships was a joy to watch for spectators at the three grounds. There was no shortage of impressive players, with quite a few standing up and making their performances count on the big state. We take a look at some of these key players, and the results at the championships.
The star of the carnival, not only winning Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, but also sharing the overall MVP award with Vic Metro’s Madison Prespakis. Worked hard on the outside, using her speed to advantage, and then going forward and taking some important grabs, or dishing off the handballs to teammates running past. Has gone from strength to strength this season and is a bonafide star through midfield. Laid some great tackles chasing down opponents and just caused a nuisance of herself to opponents by running them ragged around the ground.
The carnival’s leading goal kicker, the impressive key position defender played permanent forward in series too and had the most impact of any player in terms of hurt factor per minute. In the opening game she booted five goals in a combined three minutes – three in the space of two minutes and two in the space of another minute – in what was a match-winning effort against Queensland. She then backed it up with four goals in the second game, and should have had more than her solitary one in the final match, but just missed a few shots on goal.
Sophie Van De Heuvel
Switched kicking boots with Lucy McEvoy in the final game, because after missing her chances in the second game she nailed nearly every chance she had in the final match. Was best on ground against Western Australia and in the top couple against Central Allies on Wednesday. The link-up work between midfield and forward is vital and she is the perfect player to deliver the ball inside 50. Just a classy player who uses it so well when kicking inside 50.
It is hard to think a player of Hanks’ calibre could be underrated, but it seemed to be that way at the championships. She was able to just do what she does best in midfield without too much fanfare and did a lot of work on the inside, bursting from a stoppage, and using her smarts to hit a target up forward. While Nina Morrison caught the eye with her pace and Lucy McEvoy and Sophie Van De Heuvel were the hurt factor up forward, it was Hanks and Olivia Purcell in the midfield who did all the grunt work getting it forward.
Her last game was unbelievable and reminded everyone of the talent she has, with 28 disposals against Western Australia. She just wins the ball and burrows under packs to fearlessly throw herself at every contest. Her link-up work throughout the carnival, as well as her versatility to go forward and provide a target at half-forward was important as well. Just moves well and added a crucial layer to the Vic Country midfield.
A player who seems to step up when going to the next level, which is really exciting. For the AFL Women’s Academy earlier in the year she was ultra-impressive, and again in the championships she was another who stood up and make her performances count. One of her biggest strengths is her ability to remain composed and just lower the eyes when going forward and hit up targets on short leads. Played that high half-forward role to perfection and deserved her All-Australian honours.
A strong inside midfielder who can literally play anywhere. Many of the Country midfielders are smaller but nearly all of them have great strength. Webster is that taller inside midfielder who drops back and helps out the defence, or can go forward and apply good defensive pressure around the stoppages. Can find the ball with ease and spreads well, often giving the quick handball to the outside to release a running teammate.
The centre half-back was a rock in defence and rebounded everything she could, working well with Lucy Cripps back in Vic Country’s defensive half. She pushed up the ground at times and took intercept marks on the wing, then would pump the ball forward to teammates’ advantage. Clarke positions herself well and is strong overhead, then works hard with good second efforts to clear the danger zone.
Another consistent player who played her role across the week, moving between midfield to half-forward and some time in defence. She used her long kick to advantage and showed good leadership along with all the other captains on the team. Allen seems to find space all around the ground and unsurprisingly earned All-Australian honours for her performances. Just never plays a bad game.
Stood tall in defence with Georgia Clarke, really good one-on-one and created good rebound out of defence. Cripps continues to improve and did well against highly rated opponents on the big stage. She was one of the 12 All-Australian squad members from Vic Country and was one of the top defenders across the carnival.
Monday, July 9
QUEENSLAND 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 (11)
VIC COUNTRY 1.2 | 5.5 | 7.6 | 10.7 (67)
Queensland: Dee Heslop.
Vic Country: Lucy McEvoy 5, Julia Harvey 2, Tyla Hanks, Rene Caris, Nina Morrison.
Queensland: Zimmorlei Farquharson, Ellie Hampson, Lily Postlethwaite, Kitara Farrar, Natalie Grider, Dee Heslop.
Vic Country: Lucy McEvoy, Nina Morrison, Rebecca Webster, Julia Harvey, Rene Caris, Olivia Purcell.
Wednesday, July 11
VIC COUNTRY: 1.1 | 3.2 | 5.4 | 6.6 (42)
CENTRAL ALLIES: 0.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 | 3.1 (19)
Vic Country: Lucy McEvoy 4, Molly McDonald, Nikia Webber.
Central Allies: Danielle Ponter 2, Katelyn Rosenzweig.
VIC COUNTRY: Lucy McEvoy, Nina Morrison, Jordyn Allen, Olivia Purcell, Nikia Webber, Sophie Van De Heuvel.
CENTRAL ALLIES: Danielle Ponter, Amber Ward, Nikki Gore, Rachel Dunstan, Esther Boles, Hannah Munyard.
Friday, July 13
VIC COUNTRY 2.1 | 2.7 | 4.9 | 7.11 (53)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 0.3 | 1.3 | 2.4 | 2.5 (17)
Vic Country Sophie Van de Heuvel 3, Nikia Webber, Lucy McEvoy, Courtney Jones, Nina Morrison.
Western Australia: Mikayla Hyde, Savannah Ahearn.
Vic Country: Sophie Van De Heuvel, Olivia Purcell, Nina Morrison, Courtney Jones, Georgia Clarke, Rebecca Webster.
Western Australia: Sabreena Duffy, Emma O’Driscoll, Mikayla Hyde, McKenzie Dowrick, Sonia Dorizzi, Brianna Hyde.