Tag: emerson woods

AFLW Draft preview: Collingwood

COLLINGWOOD has been hit hard in the AFL Women’s off-season, losing plenty of stars including Christina Bernardi, Jess Duffin, Jasmine Garner, Emma King and Meg Hutchins. Luckily, the Pies have gained some exciting prospects in former netballer, Sharni Layton and former Gaelic footballer, Sarah Rowe, while Brisbane defender, Nicole Hildebrand will add some experience to the line-up.

 

Last season: 6th

In: Nicole Hildebrand, Sharni Layton, Sarah Rowe
Out: Caitlyn Edwards, Bree White, Christina Bernardi, Moana Hope, Jess Duffin, Jasmine Garner, Emma King, Amelia Barden, Lauren Tesoriero, Meg Hutchins, Tara Morgan

COLLINGWOOD AFLW LIST (22/30)

  • Brittany Bonnici
  • Ash Brazill
  • Sophie Casey
  • Stephanie Chiocci
  • Sarah D’Arcy
  • Sarah Dargan
  • Emma Grant
  • Darcy Guttridge
  • Nicole Hildebrand
  • Eliza Hynes
  • Melissa Kuys
  • Jaimee Lambert
  • Sharni Layton
  • Stacey Livingstone
  • Cecilia McIntosh
  • Chloe Molloy
  • Georgie Parker
  • Iilish Ross
  • Sarah Rowe  
  • Ruby Schleicher
  • Kristy Stratton
  • Holly Whitford

DRAFT PICKS

5, 11, 13, 18, 19, 29, 32, 51

POSSIBLE DRAFT PROSPECTS

Given Collingwood’s connection with Oakleigh, it is hard to look past Chargers trio, Hannah McLaren, Daisy Bateman and Katie Lynch. The trio all represented Vic Metro and played for Collingwood’s Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side. Bateman would be a great replacement for Moana Hope, as she positions well in the forward line, and is an solid mark and accurate kick. McLaren will boost the defensive stocks of the Pies while Lynch is a dominant force in the midfield. If Madison Prespakis isn’t taken in the draft yet, the Pies could have her on their radar as well. Eastern Ranges duo, Mikala Cann and Emerson Woods could also be thrown into the mix, as Cann impresses with her explosiveness and Woods is extremely athletic. Others they may consider include Gippsland Power co-captain, Tyla Hanks or Dandenong Stingrays captain, Jordyn Allen. They could provide support to captain, Stephanie Chiocci and vice-captain, Brittany Bonnici in Collingwood’s midfield.

AFL Women’s Draft Combine wrap

AN Eastern Ranges duo and the potential number one pick in the Under 18 AFL Women’s Draft have emerged as the top performers from the AFL Women’s Draft Combine yesterday.

Geelong Falcons star, Nina Morrison walked away with two combine records, smashing the Yo-Yo test with an 18.2 score, as well as clocking 7:14 in the 2km time trial. Morrison remarkably finished top five in six of the possible seven events. Eastern duo, Emerson Woods and Charlotte Wilson won their respective events in the 20m sprint and standing vertical jump, with Woods easily breaking the previous record when she produced a dazzling 3.129-second sprint. Wilson achieved a 56cm standing vertical jump, two centimetres more than any other participant.

Wilson finished second in both the running vertical jumps, and finished third in the 20m sprint and Yo-Yo test. Woods finished second to Morrison in the Yo-Yo test, third in the agility and 2km time trial, and equal fifth in the standing vertical jump. Both Eastern girls produced top five finishes in five of the seven tests.

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Sophie Van De Heuvel and Murray Bushrangers’ Rebecca Webster recorded the next best overall results, finishing top five in three events, with the pair taking out the left and right running vertical jumps respectively. In the other events, Gippsland Power co-captain, Tyla Hanks clocked up 8.788 in the agility to break the record in that test ahead of Geelong Falcons onballer, Olivia Purcell.

Of those participants outside Victoria, Queensland ruck, Lauren Bella was impressive with top five finishes in the running vertical jumps, while Tasmania’s Libby Haines finished fifth in the 20m sprint with a time of 3.299 seconds, and fourth in the 2km time trial. Others who achieved top five finishes were GWV Rebels, Rene Caris, Lauren Butler and Georgia Clarke, Sandringham Dragons’ Eleanor Brown, Northern Knights’ Madeline Brancatisano and Dandenong Stingrays’ Jordyn Allen.

20m sprint:

1 Emerson Woods (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro) 3.129 seconds
2 Sophie Van De Heuvel (GWV Rebels/Vic Country) 3.242
2 Charlotte Wilson (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro) 3.242
4 Madeline Brancatisano (Northern Knights/Vic Metro) 3.25
5 Libby Haines (Burnie/Tasmania) 3.299

Yo-Yo Test:

1 Nina Morrison (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country) 18.2
2 Emerson Woods (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro) 16.7
3 Charlotte Wilson (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro) 16.5
4 Lauren Butler (GWV Rebels/Vic Country) 16.3
5 Tyla Hanks (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) 16.2

Agility:

1 Tyla Hanks (Gippsland Power/Vic Country): 8.788
2 Olivia Purcell (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country): 8.809
3 Emerson Woods (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro): 8.859
4 Nina Morrison (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country): 8.878
5 Jordyn Allen (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country): 8.891

2km time trial:

1 Nina Morrison (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country) 7:14
2 Eleanor Brown (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) 7:29
3 Emerson Woods (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro) 7:39
4 Libby Haines (Burnie/Tasmania) 7:51
5 Lauren Butler (GWV Rebels/Vic Country) 7:52

Standing vertical jump:

1 Charlotte Wilson (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro) 56cm
2 Rebecca Webster (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country) 54cm
2 Sophie Van De Heuvel (GWV Rebels/Vic Country) 54cm
4 Georgia Clarke (GWV Rebels/Vic Country) 52cm
5 Emerson Woods (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro) 50cm
5 Nina Morrison (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country) 50cm
5 Rene Caris (GWV Rebels/Vic Country) 50cm

Running vertical jump (right):

1 Rebecca Webster (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country) 63cm
2 Charlotte Wilson (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro) 62
3 Rene Caris (GWV Rebels/Vic Country) 61
4 Lauren Bella (Bond University/Queensland) 59
5 Nina Morrison (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country) 59

Running vertical jump (left):

1 Sophie Van De Heuvel (GWV Rebels/Vic Country) 70cm
2 Charlotte Wilson (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro) 68cm
3 Nina Morrison (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country) 66cm
4 Lauren Bella (Bond University/Queensland) 65cm
5 Rebecca Webster (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country) 65cm

Future is bright for women’s football

IF anyone ever had any doubts about the future of AFL Women’s, then they need look no further than this week’s V/Line Cup. The best 14-16 year-olds from across regional and rural Victoria tackled each other in Gippsland in the annual tournament held at Moe, Morwell and Traralgon. Walking away from the event, I was blown away by the quality of the competitors, not just in terms of skill development, but in terms of game smarts and decision making.

Put it down to coaching, natural development or other factors, the women’s game is growing, fast. Having watched the inaugural TAC Cup Girls competition in 2017, you had your absolute standouts like Chloe Molloy and Monique Conti tearing it up for Calder Cannons, and everyone had been talking about Isabel Huntington for years. Then there were the next group of talented players that made their way onto AFL Women’s lists such as Maddy Guerin, Sarah Dargan, Iilish Ross, Bridie Kennedy and Georgia Gee, plus others.

Fast forward 12 months, and attending the TAC Cup Girls competition in 2018, I attended 26 matches in the nine round season, and instead of having two or three unbelievable players, that had grown into double figures – that is, of players who could seriously impact at senior level almost immediately. Geelong Falcons duo Nina Morrison and Olivia Purcell were outstanding against their peers, and had no troubles finding the ball at higher levels. Mikala Cann is a perfect example of how players from other sports can adapt in such a short amount of time, while Emerson Woods joined Cann as a premiership player at senior level.

Even at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, having witnessed all the games on the Gold Coast, you saw those players who had starred at TAC Cup Girls level, go up to face the best players from across the country. Talents like Alyce Parker, McKenzie Dowrick, Nikki Gore, Nat Grider, and Chloe and Libby Haines showed why they had been held in such high regard in their respective states. All of the above earned invites to the National Draft Combine.

But what was just as pleasing at those championships, was the development of the bottom-age players who shone through. It is hard to believe the likes of Georgia Patrikios, Gabby Newton, Lucy McEvoy, Lily Postlethwaite, Montana McKinnon, Mia King and Mikayla Bowen should all be running around on the Gold Coast for their respective states again next year. Remarkably, the 2020 draft crop already has names that are worthy of representing their state, as Abbey Dowrick, Abbie Ballard, Netty Garlo and Zimmorlei Farquharson were among those double bottom-agers who still matched it with more experienced players. Add in the likes of Ellie McKenzie, Isabelle Pritchard, Renee Saulitis and Tyanna Smith who were all impressive for the Victorian Under 16s outfits, and the foundations for the future are certainly there. An extra element will be the possible father-daughter selections, with Abbie McKay (Carlton) being the first possible case study this year, while Tarni Brown (Collingwood) and Alice Burke (St Kilda) loom as two more.

While we will go into more detail about the V/Line Cup recap next week, the overall standard of the competition was arguably equal to or even better than the 2017 TAC Cup competition. Or in other words, the players are two to three years more advanced than their predecessors. In the Geelong Falcons game against Bendigo Pioneers, there were two players that were worth highlighting even early on in the game. In one instance, a player was against two opponents just inside 50 and the easiest option would have been to bring the ball out and cause a forward stoppage. Instead, she tapped the ball in front of her, not taking possession, but maintaining speed, and kept dribbling it ahead of her pursuing opponents, then without even taking possession, managed to kick it off the ground into the goal square, where a teammate soccered it through.

The second example was even better, and exemplified the game sense that players have developed over time. A player had the ball tight against the boundary line under pressure not far from the behind post. In year’s gone by, regardless of competition, most young players, especially at the age where goals are usually the only statistical measure you can brag about to your mates on the league website, would blaze away and go for the miracle snap. With so many opposition players inside 50, it would have been the easy option, and no-one would have blamed her for doing so. Instead, she calmly assessed her options and spotted a teammate amongst the chaos about 25m out, sending a nice kick to her advantage, setting up an easy shot on goal. Without being their live, you do not see these things, but it is little moments like that, which make all the difference.

Another example, just to show it was not just one game, was on the second day when a Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy (GWV Rebels region) player won the ball at half-back. She won the ball in defence, had an opponent chasing her from a 45-degree angle to close her down, and backed her speed to take her on and get around her. She did just that, but looking ahead, the opposition had blocked up the easiest option along the wing. She would have to kick long to a contest, probably outnumbered. Instead she briefly glanced inside and in one of the toughest kicks to do, managed to hit that kick around her body to the defensive 50 where a teammate marked, and not only was it an effective kick, but it opened up the corridor, and the game, with the opponents already set in running towards the wing.

Aside from the few examples, there was more contested marking, more protecting of ball drops and ground balls, more fend-offs, more deft taps to teammates. Areas in which players generally do not always think of as first options. But the past week, it was happening more and more. There is no doubt there has been some serious critics of women’s football, and no doubt that will continue, but if you can stop and look hard enough, you do not have to look too far to see the game is blossoming, and I for one, am excited for what 2019 and beyond holds.

Zero players, coaches and support staff becomes one premiership

HAWTHORN Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s premiership coach, Patrick Hill had to build the club up from scratch when he first walked through the doors.

He had no players, coaches or support staff on board, and was all of a sudden thrown into the deep end to create a team. After the club’s first trial day and training session, Hill admits he was worried. But now after an exciting blend of experience and youth culminating in a premiership, he says he couldn’t be happier.

“(In) the first training session, I didn’t know what I’d gotten myself into,” Hill said.

“It wasn’t great but we built slowly and slowly then just added some experience this year which has just changed our team around. “They played a great style last year and they were very compliant in what they wanted to do but we just needed the mature heads and some more physical bodies out there.”

The premiership also required some work behind the scenes from the coach himself, who is now 16 years into his coaching career.

“I remember working on a game style that would work on this ground (Etihad Stadium) all year and even last year,” he said. “To get here and be able to do it, I’m rapt.”

Another person who is rapt is Hawthorn President, Jeff Kennett. Hill says Kennett has been his side’s number one supporter all year.

“He really gets around the girls, he loves them as I do and it’s great to see someone of his age and where he’s come from to really embrace women’s footy for what it is and it’s beautiful,” the Hawthorn VFLW coach said.

Together, Hill and Kennett are out to prove a point that the Hawthorn Football Club is completely invested in women’s football.

“I still see on social media, there’s this thought process out there that we don’t care and we haven’t cared about women’s footy and we’re sort of late to the party and we don’t really care anyway,” Hill said. “Nothing could be further from the truth, we really wanted to come out here today and show that not only do we care about women’s footy, but we care about women’s issues. “We really want to excel in this as well.”

The players have also played a part in caring for each other, with Hill admitting that forward, Phoebe McWilliams has been one of the players who has bonded with the younger girls in the side. This has benefited the likes of Eastern Ranges duo, Mikala Cann and Emerson Woods, and former Vic Metro representative, Olivia Flanagan, who Hill says have been outstanding this season.

“Young Mikala Cann, we call her the bull and she just loves the contest,” he said. “She’s an extremely coachable player and she slotted straight into our midfield. “Emerson Woods just runs all day and even Liv Flanagan, we were able to get her up today after doing a hammy in Darwin, she re-twinged it again a couple of weeks ago and we thought the dream was over. “But for her to get up and get through and play an important role for us was fantastic. “They had youthful exuberance, they had some real vibe around the group. “Phoebe McWilliams has really taken to them and they’ve really taken to her. “It’s been fantastic to watch those relationships develop.”

Of course, it was hard to go past Chantella Perera’s game on the day, with the defender taking home the Lisa Hardeman medal for the best on ground. Hill was not only impressed with her game at Etihad Stadium, but also praises her consistent efforts throughout the year.

“She was fantastic last year, she played on all the best players in the league and never got beaten once,” he said. “Maybe Chloe Molloy at the start of this year kicked some nice goals, but today I thought she added the offensive side to her game. “She’s really cool and composed with the ball, her skills were great and she’s just a great athlete. “She’s been a champion WNBL player and now she’s a VFLW premiership player. “It just shows how good women are when you give them the opportunity.”

From Eastern to Hawthorn, Ranges duo celebrate flag

EASTERN Ranges duo Mikala Cann and Emerson Woods have basked in the glory of a Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s premiership yesterday. The Ranges and now Hawthorn midfielder/forwards just “played their role” as they said, in Hawthorn’s 13-point victory over Geelong. Cann finished the game with 14 disposals, one mark and a team-high nine tackles, while Woods’ defensive pressure saw her also lay five tackles to go with two touches.

Both players were thrilled after the game, hardly believing the moment.

“It’s just surreal,” Woods said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting this, just coming at such a young age as well coming into the team, just to get a spot (is good) I suppose.” Cann was equally as excited. “You can’t describe it,” she said. “Winning a premiership with the best group of girls, it’s indescribable”

Woods said the speed of the game was the crucial difference between the TAC Cup Girls and VFL Women’s.

“It’s much faster, quick ball movement, pretty hard to keep up at times, but it’s good,” Woods said. Cann said she felt the bigger presence of opponents out there and stronger bodies. “(It’s) a lot more physical, the bodies are larger, but I guess you want to be playing at the highest level so this is one step closer.”

The last quarter saw the game on a knife’s edge and Geelong was attacking fiercely throughout the second half. Cann said the team knew the Cats would come at them, and had prepared for the momentum swing.

“We prepared what we had to do at training with our composure,” she said. “We just knew what we had to do and we implemented it.”

Woods said the most amazing feeling was with the clock counting down, knowing they would soon be premiership players.

“Yeah towards the end of the game, it was a bit of a surreal feeling with 30 seconds to go knowing that we’d won it,” she said.

Now both draft-eligible players will prepare for the AFL Women’s Draft Combine next week ahead of the AFL Women’s Draft in late October.

Weekend previews: VFLW – Grand Final

THE stage is set for traditional rivals, Hawthorn and Geelong to make history in the inaugural Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Grand Final. The Hawks and Cats have been even all season on the ladder and will get to show what they’re made of in the first game played at Marvel Stadium.

 

HAWTHORN  v. GEELONG CATS

Sunday, September 23, 12.30pm
Etihad Stadium, Docklands

Form line:

Hawthorn:

Ladder position: 2nd
Wins: 12
Losses: 2
Percentage: 180%

Geelong:

Ladder position: 4th
Wins: 10
Losses: 3
Draws: 1
Percentage: 163%

 

Last time they met:

Hawthorn 6.5 (41) defeated Geelong 3.7 (25)

In the biggest match of the round, it was Hawthorn who got the early breakaway after an even first quarter. The Hawks kicked three goals to Geelong’s one in the second quarter, giving them a 14-point lead at the main break. They were able to extend their lead in the third with one goal, while keeping Geelong goalless. The Cats had a chance to fight back in the last quarter, but kicked 1.4, which gave Hawthorn the win.

AFLW duo, Sarah Perkins and Rebecca Beeson each kicked two majors on the day while Claire Dyett and Rosie Dillon booted through one each. Beeson had a dominant game with 22 disposals, five marks and six tackles and was complemented by fellow goal kicker, Rosie Dillon, who racked up 17 disposals and eight tackles. Skipper, Emma Mackie was huge on the day with 20 disposals and five tackles while Jayde Van Dyk was as resilient as ever down back with 18 disposals, four marks and five tackles.

Despite her side’s loss, Richelle Cranston was the leading disposal-getter on the ground with 25 touches as well as three marks and five tackles. Madeline Keryk wasn’t far off though with one goal, 24 disposals and nine tackles in another great game in the blue and white hoops. Kate Darby and Mia-Rae Clifford also got on the scoreboard with one major each. Darby gathered 12 disposals, three marks and eight tackles while Clifford was kept quiet with six disposals.

GOALS

Hawthorn: R. Beeson 2, S. Perkins 2, C. Dyett, R. Dillon
Geelong: M. Clifford, M. Keryk, K. Darby

BEST

Hawthorn: J. Van Dyk, R. Dillon, K. Ebb, S. Perkins, E. Mackie, M. Cann
Geelong: R. Cranston, A. Teague, E. Coventry, R. Goring, M. Keryk, K. Darby

 

Players to watch:

Hawthorn:

#1 Emma Mackie

Mackie has been outstanding this season and has managed to find her form from the start of the year in the last couple of weeks. Last time she faced the Cats, she racked up 20 disposals and five tackles, then followed this up with three goals, 18 disposals and four tackles in the qualifying final against the Pies.

#6 Julia Crockett-Grills

Crocket-Grills is an interesting situation, playing against the team that she has recently been recruited to in the AFL Women’s. An agile midfielder, Crockett-Grills can burst the game open with her speed and footy smarts. Against the Pies two weeks ago, she gathered 10 disposals and laid five tackles.

#8 Rebecca Beeson

Rebecca Beeson has been one of Hawthorn’s most consistent players throughout the season, playing roles in both the forward line and in the midfield. Lately, she has been in the midfield and has made a huge impact. She was dominant against Geelong in Round 16 where she gathered 22 disposals, five marks, six tackles and kicked two goals.   

#24 Rosie Dillon

Dillon has strung together a couple of good games in the lead-up to this match. She arguably played her best game of the season against Collingwood in week one of the finals, as she gathered 20 disposals, two marks and four tackles to go along with her major. Against Geelong in the home and away season, she was again one of the star players for the Hawks with one goal, 17 disposals, three marks and eight tackles.

#36 Jayde Van Dyk

Jayde Van Dyk well and truly deserved the VFLW Rising Star award after a breakout season in the brown and gold. Van Dyk was a lock in the backline each week and shut down her opponents extremely well. Her agile frame also allowed her to get involved in the contest with great run and carry. She got heavily involved against the Cats in Round 16 where she racked up 18 disposals, took four marks and laid five tackles.

#45 Mikala Cann

The Eastern Ranges midfielder has only played a handful of games for the Hawks, but they have all been of a high quality. Cann is an inside bull who tackles hard and runs hard in and out of stoppages. She’s one who can turn a game on its head with her explosive impact. Cann was the leading disposal-getter on the ground against Collingwood with 21 disposals, three marks and eight tackles.

 

Geelong:

#6 Maddie Boyd

Maddie Boyd’s aerial ability is really going to trouble the Hawks. Her contested and uncontested marking has been superb this season and has played a big part in getting the Cats to Marvel Stadium on Sunday. Against the Pies, she kicked two goals and took seven marks. Last time she faced the Hawks, she gathered 11 disposals and took five marks.

#7 Mia-Rae Clifford

Mia-Rae Clifford’s move into the forward line has been a revelation, as she has kicked 15 goals from 16 games. Clifford also made the VFLW Team of the Year thanks to her consistency with the ball in hand. She didn’t kick a goal against the Pies last week, so she would come into this game hungry for a couple of majors. Clifford still managed to rack up 11 disposals and lay six tackles in the fierce contest.

#16 Olivia Purcell

Olivia Purcell comes into this game with a chance to win her second premiership this season. She has rightfully earned her spot in the team with some great inside work and ferocity around the contest. This was highlighted last week when she laid 14 tackles against the Pies, not giving their midfielders an inch of space. Against the Northern Territory (NT), she got plenty of the ball, racking up 19 disposals and kicking a goal.

#20 Nina Morrison

Purcell’s premiership teammate, Nina Morrison is in the same situation as her, vying for her second premiership this season. There’s not much Morrison hasn’t won this season, winning both the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the TAC Cup Girls Best and Fairest alongside Madison Prespakis. Morrison missed last week’s game against the Pies after she was named best-on-ground in the Cats’ win over NT. In that game, she gathered 18 disposals and laid seven tackles. She is a key inclusion in this match.

#30 Richelle Cranston

Richelle Cranston will be a worrying prospect for Hawthorn with her strength around the contest. Cranston has the tenacity to bullock through packs and win the hard ball to get it out of congestion, which has played a big part in Geelong’s success this year. Her finals campaign has been outstanding with two goals, 19 disposals, five marks and six tackles against the NT. Against Collingwood, she racked up 15 disposals and laid seven tackles.

#45 Madeline Keryk

Madeline Keryk gets better as each week goes on, dominating the midfield with her tenacity and footy smarts. Keryk hits the packs hard and her kicking and handballing is precise. She is a ball magnet and has demonstrated this in her last two games. Against the Thunder, Keryk gathered 16 disposals and laid nine tackles. She bettered this when she faced the Pies, with 24 disposals and four tackles.

 

Preview:

These two teams have been evenly poised throughout the season, with both teams always in contention for the premiership flag. Both have knocked off minor premiers, Collingwood, and Geelong has had the added bonus of knocking out the NT. Hawthorn comes into this game off a break, giving a chance for players such as Olivia Flanagan to return from injury and slot back into the side. Geelong has kept it simple in the lead-up to the Grand Final, bringing in star draft prospect, Nina Morrison to impose her outside run on the Hawks’ midfield.

The midfield will be littered with Under 18 Victorian representatives, with Morrison, Olivia Purcell, Mikala Cann and Emerson Woods to all play a role on the day. Experienced players, Rebecca Beeson and Emma Mackie could go up against Richelle Cranston and Rosie Dillon in what should be an enthralling battle. In the 50s, Geelong captain, Rebecca Goring could see eye-to-eye with Adelaide Crows forward, Sarah Perkins while Jayde Van Dyk could match up on Mia-Rae Clifford.

It’s also a match-up of two of the best coaches, with Patrick Hill and Paul Hood matching up tactics against tactics. Geelong coach, Hood believes his side can get revenge on the Hawks after an improvement of form since their last meeting.

“We’re quietly confident we can improve our performance after that day,” he said. “Obviously we learn a bit from playing against the Hawks, they put in a really powerful performance. “It’s no great surprise to us that we’re here but obviously we needed a bit of luck along the way.  “We’re really grateful to get the opportunity to play this weekend.”

Patrick Hill is also grateful to grace Marvel Stadium with his Hawthorn players, admitting that he didn’t see a Grand Final berth coming so fast.

“If you told me I’d be here two years ago in a Grand Final, I probably would’ve laughed at you,” Hill said. “We’re incredibly well supported by our club. “I think it shows how many great athletes there are in women’s sport. “It’s not like men’s sport where they’ve already been through trials and a lot of development programs thrown at them since they were seven years old, they’ve had to sort of fight to be involved. “Once we opened up the doors to all our women in, you see how many amazing athletes there are out there, they’re extremely coachable and a delight to work with.”

Hawthorn has been one of the best offensive sides this year while Geelong has been one of the best defensive outfits, so if the game is played on the Hawks’ terms, it could be a fast-paced game. But if the game is played on the Cats’ terms, it could be a defensive, hard-fought slug which Geelong has been accustomed to this year. Either way, this will be a tight contest with both teams desperate to lift up the first ever VFLW premiership cup on Sunday.

Weekend previews: VFLW – Week 1 Finals

THE home and away season has come to an end and the finals have finally arrived in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season. Collingwood, Hawthorn, NT Thunder and Geelong all battle it out over the coming weeks with the hope of raising the premiership cup.

 

Collingwood vs. Hawthorn

Saturday September 8, Stannards Stadium, 10:15AM

Collingwood and Hawthorn finished the home and away season in the top two spots and as a result have an opportunity to advance straight through to the Grand Final. Collingwood suffered just two slip-ups throughout the season; an early season draw against Geelong and a late season loss against the Thunder, both of whom will head into battle in the elimination final on Sunday. The Pies have a number of huge inclusions into their line-up with Sarah D’Arcy, Sophie Alexander and Brittany Bonnici among others returning to the line-up. The three inclusions will look to re-discover their early season form and re-establish themselves in the side. Collingwood will also be looking for a big contribution from star, Chloe Molloy who has been unbelievable all season long with her poise under pressure, elite decision-making and overall strong play. For the Hawks, they also enter the game with extreme confidence having defeated fellow finalists Geelong and the Thunder in their past two games. The Hawks lost just two games for the season and played consistent footy throughout the year, establishing themselves as a true contender. They make several inclusions (extended bench) highlighted by Melissa Kuys, who can be a real game-breaker at her best. Their forward line featuring Sarah Perkins and Phoebe McWilliams has been dangerous all year and should once again play a huge role in getting the Hawks over the line. The injection of youth, including Eastern Ranges duo Emerson Woods and Sarah Kendall joining Mikala Cann, provides the Hawks with plenty of excitement. Midfielder, Emma Mackie will also look to continue her terrific home and away season form with a big game in the finals to push the Hawks towards the Grand Final and a hugely important week off.

 

Northern Territory (NT) Thunder vs. Geelong

Sunday September 9, Stannards Stadium, 11:45AM

The NT Thunder meet Geelong on Sunday morning in the elimination final with both sides desperate to keep their premiership dreams alive. The Thunder have looked unstoppable at times throughout the season, posting several dominating defeats by high margins. By far the highest scoring team in the competition, their forward line has been firing on all cylinders, with some scoring contributions from the midfield to assist. They will have had plenty of preparation time, having not played since their Round 15 defeat at the hands of Hawthorn, with their bye coming in the final round of the home and away season. Jess Sedunary, Jenna McCormick and Angela Foley have all been huge for the team throughout the season and should once again have a big impact on the outcome. For the Cats, they narrowly missed out on an opportunity to face the Pies in the qualifying final, having lost to Hawthorn in the last round of the season. They look to shake off the disappointment and move into the second week of finals with a win, while also preventing elimination. Erin Hoare and Megan McMahon are among several inclusions for the Cats, with each having played a pivotal role in Geelong’s early season success. Richelle Cranston will be the player to watch for Geelong as she has been the catalyst in a number of victories this season with her commanding presence throughout the ground. A huge game of footy with both sides hoping to keep their dream alive for at least one more week.

Eastern Ranges lead the way in TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year

THE TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year has been announced, with the Eastern Ranges getting the most spots in the team. Defender, Georgia Macpherson, midfielders, Emerson Woods and Mikala Cann, ruck, Sarah Kendall and forward, Laura McClelland were the Ranges who made the side.

Premiership side, Geelong Falcons were next best with four nominees, headlined by premiership captain, Lucy McEvoy. She was joined by Falcons Best and Fairest, Olivia Purcell, AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships joint Most Valuable Player (MVP), Nina Morrison and Grand Final Player of the Match, Denby Taylor. The players were joined by coach, Jason Armistead, as the premiership coach capped off his wonderful year by being named the TAC Cup Girls Coach of the Year.   

The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Sandringham Dragons also fared well with three members each in the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year. All Australians, Eleanor Brown (Sandringham) and Sophie Van De Huevel (GWV) headline the team for their TAC Cup Girls sides.

The Calder Cannons, Northern Knights and Dandenong Stingrays were the next best in line with two players from each team making the side. Cannons captain, Madison Prespakis was named in the middle while fellow captain, Jordyn Allen slotted into the back line. Georgia Patrikios joined teammate, Prespakis after a stellar year while Lucy Cripps lined up with Allen in the back line.

Knights duo, Gabrielle Newton and Madeline Brancatisano were both named in the forward line after leading their side to a Grand Final.

Oakleigh’s sole member is All Australian forward, Daisy Bateman while Rebecca Webster leads the way for the Bushrangers. Gippsland co-captain, Tyla Hanks was the only Power nominee and slotted into the star-studded midfield.

No Western Jets or Bendigo Pioneers players made the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year.

AFL Women’s Under 18 State of Origin sides announced

VICTORIA’S top junior female footballers will take on the best young stars from around the country in the AFL Women’s Under-18 State of Origin match at Adelaide Oval tomorrow night. The 24-player Victorian team contains 12 Metro and 12 Country players, including five bottom-agers who are predicted to be crucial players for their respective teams in 2019. The All Stars side is even younger, with one third of the players not eligible to be drafted until next year.

Queensland has a remarkable talent base, with 10 players named in the 24-player squad, while Western Australia is the next highest represented in the All Stars side with six. New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW-ACT) and South Australia have three representatives each, while Tasmania and Northern Territory have one player each in the final side.

Gates open at Adelaide Oval at 5.15pm, with the first bounce at 5.25pm. The game is a curtain raiser to the EJ Whitten Legends Game.

Victoria:

#1 Georgia Patrikios (Calder Cannons)***
#2 Emerson Woods (Eastern Ranges)
#3 Nina Morrison (Geelong Falcons)
#4 Sophie Van De Heuvel (GWV Rebels)
#5 Olivia Purcell (Geelong Falcons)
#6 Daisy Bateman (Oakleigh Chargers)
#7 Madison Prespakis (Calder Cannons)
#8 Eleanor Brown (Sandringham Dragons)
#9 Abbie McKay (Sandringham Dragons)
#10 Isabella Grant (Western Jets)***
#11 Jordyn Allen (Dandenong Stingrays)
#12 Courtney Jones (Dandenong Stingrys)
#13 Bec Webster (Murray Bushrangers)
#14 Georgia Clarke (GWV Rebels)
#15 Lucy McEvoy (Geelong Falcons)***
#16 Gabby Newton (Northern Knights)***
#17 Katie Lynch (Oakleigh Chargers)
#18 Hannah McLaren (Oakleigh Chrgers)
#19 Georgia Macpherson (Eastern Ranges)
#20 Mikala Cann (Eastern Ranges)
#21 Lucinda Cripps (Dandenong Stingrays)***
#22 Rene Caris (GWV Rebels)
#23 Tyla Hanks (Gippsland Power)
#24 Denby Taylor (Geelong Falcons)

All Stars:

#1 Mia King (Tasmania)***
#2 Mikayla Bowen (Western Australia)
#3 Janet Baird (Northern Territory)
#4 Alyce Parker (NSW-ACT)
#5 Lily Postlethwaite (Queensland)***
#6 Belle Dawes (Queensland)***
#7 Rikkiesha Carling (Western Australia)
#8 Tori Groves-Little (Queensland)
#9 Dee Heslop (Queensland)***
#10 Natalie Grider (Queensland)
#11 Nikki Gore (South Australia)
#12 Sabreena Duffy (Western Australia)
#13 Kitara Farrar (Queensland)***
#14 Katelyn Rosenzweig (South Australia)
#15 Alexia Hamilton (NSW-ACT)
#16 Charlotte Hammans (Queensland)***
#17 Serene Watson (Queensland)***
#18 Jacqueline Yorston (Queensland)
#19 McKenzie Dowrick (Western Australia)
#20 Matilda Sergeant (Western Australia)
#21 Kate Bartlett (Western Australia)
#22 Montana McKinnon (South Adelaide)***
#23 Lauren Bella (Queensland)
#24 Brianna McFarlane (NSW-ACT)

*** bottom-ager

 

Lifelong footballer Szigeti edges closer to AFLW dream

WHEN Lauren Szigeti ran out on a football field for the first time, there was no elite pathway for women in Australian Rules. Unlike many contemporaries, the fact there was no national competition did not douse her desire to get the best out of herself. In fact, she grabbed every opportunity she could, playing all through her teenage years and now, in her top-age season, won a club best and fairest and earned state representation – a fitting honour for someone who never stopped believing.

“I started back in Auskick when I was probably about five or six and then just got into that through my brother playing footy and my dad as well,” Szigeti said. “Then I played juniors with the boys until I was 13 or 14 and then went to girls footy and then went from there.”

Szigeti had dipped into a number of different sports in her young life, but believed the close bond you share with your teammates in an Aussie Rules team trumps anything else.

“I just love the culture,” Szigeti said. “I’ve played basketball and tennis, I’ve played a lot of that when I was younger, but I always loved footy the most. “Just the environment, friendships that you make and I feel like you make a real special connection with the girls in your team and I’ve loved that.”

The Eastern Ranges defender enjoys the challenges of playing at half-back, because she gets to balance between “attacking a bit” and defending. Szigeti said her skills and game-related attributes were among her strengths, having played for all her life, while her aerobic fitness was something she was keen to build. She ensured she worked closely with those Ranges girls who crossed from other codes to help improve each other.

“I guess I sort of go to those girls because they’re always the real athletic ones,” Szigeti said. “So I go to them for that side of things, but they come to me to be able to read the game and things like that. “I do have that experience, so I enjoy helping in that way.”

Szigeti said the depth of talent at not only TAC Cup Girls level, but across the entire region was noticeable, even in the short time she had been involved in the eastern region programs.

“I can’t put into words how much I reckon it’s lifted, even since last year,” Szigeti said. “It’s just crazy, the overall standard has just raised heaps. “Even just the under 15s interleague before. “Just thinking back when I was 15, playing interleague. “Their level is just so much higher than what we were, it’s just awesome.”

It is no surprise the talented Ranges leader had a big top-age year, earning selection for Vic Metro and playing against some of the nation’s top players on the Gold Coast, as well as taking out the Eastern Ranges best and fairest award.

“It (getting selected for Vic Metro) was incredible,” Szigeti said. “You kind of have it in the back of your head throughout the season, it was such a relief to finally get that letter. “To not always have that lingering, it was awesome.”

Szigeti said she was disappointed when the TAC Cup Girls season came to an end after everything the team had gone through together week-in, week-out.

“(I) loved it,” she said. “Absolutely loved it. “I’m so sad that it’s done. “I always loved coming to training every week, playing the games. “We’ve got a real good group of girls, we made all good connections.”

Since finishing up at Eastern, Szigeti has been working hard with Darebin Falcons in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s, having already played a handful of games this season.

“I know a few girls there and obviously it’s a real successful club with a really good culture,” Szigeti said.

She almost had the opportunity to play against Ranges’ teammates Emerson Woods and Sarah Kendall when the Falcons clashed with Hawthorn, but just missed out as an emergency. Szigeti said prior to the season it would be an interesting challenge to face-off against some of her close friends.

“It would be pretty funny,” she said. “We talked about it a couple of times how we might end up coming up against each other. “It would be pretty weird, after becoming so close here, but would be good fun.”

Like most top-age TAC Cup Girls, Szigeti has had to find the balance between her sport and studies. She said she has used football as a way of taking a mental break from the book work.

“I’m in Year 12 so I’ve got school and then training here and now for VFL and then going to the gym and stuff, usually I’ve got something on everyday,” Szigeti said. “It’s just finding that balance between sport and school. But I kind of use sport as a release from school but I enjoy having a lot of things on, because it gets you to smash out your work quickly.”

For Szigeti, playing AFL was a dream when it “didn’t even exist” so it was always her “number one long-term goal”. She said she cannot believe how much women’s football has grown in recent years and how close she could be to her dream, should it come true.

“It’s crazy,” she said. “It’s crazy how far it’s come. “Knowing how it actually is a real thing that could happen in the next six months. “It’s really exciting, a bit scary, but it’s exciting.”