Tag: Geelong Falcons

Football culture wins over Denby Taylor

DESCRIBED as “Dad’s only son”, Denby Taylor has forged her own sporting pathway after growing up balancing both football and netball. Taylor said he father was a “footy nut” and could not be prouder that the Geelong Falcons star had followed football.

“I’d probably say my dad has been the biggest influence,” she said. “I suppose getting four daughters, given he’s a footy nut, wasn’t the best thing I suppose, for him, I think now he’s pretty happy and proud of where I’ve come. “I finished netball last year so I was playing that for about maybe nine years or so. “I followed my sister’s footsteps in the netball path, and sort of made my own pathway in the football. ‘Dad’s only son’ I get called.”

Taylor said she loved the fact that football just focused on the sport itself, and enjoyed the physical nature of the contest compared to other codes she had tried.

“The difference in the games obviously so much more physical and there’s the culture as well,” she said. “I think netball and a lot of other sports can get a little bit political, but footy just focuses on the footy and I really like that. “Footy for me is probably the culture that keeps me coming back, I really like how much of the culture and the tight knit community that the club provides. I suppose the physicality of the game as well, it’s quite different to most other games, it’s quite enjoyable.”

Taylor was kicking a football around from a young age, but then gave up the sport to pursue netball, before returning once Youth Girls had begun to rise in popularity.

“I started with Auskick, dad brought me down to the local club and started playing there and then after a couple of years I wasn’t very keen on playing with the boys so I gave up the footy and then started again when I was about 13 with the youth girls,” Taylor said. “Then I continued playing Youth Girls up until last year, and then representative footy as well along the way. “(I) did Geelong Falcons for the past couple of years and the national carnivals for a couple of years as well. “Between that I was playing netball as well for Newtown and Chilwell.”

While Taylor had been known best as a rebounding defender this season, her stints up forward were actually a throwback to where she had played the last few seasons.

“I’ve only recently started playing back and I’ve been loving it so, it’s a really great experience to switch up roles, but I suppose I’m comfortable down forward, it’s where I played a lot of my footy,” Taylor said. “It’s quite a big transition but I’m really happy being down back now.”

Upon reflection, Taylor said she and the rest of her Geelong Falcons teammates had enjoyed the 2018 premiership following a perfect, undefeated season, but now her focus was purely on the draft. In particular, the versatile utility said she was working hard to build her fitness ahead of the AFL Women’s Draft Combine next month. She knows the competition has intensified at both TAC Cup Girls and AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships.

“I think some of my family comes and watches the games,” Taylor said of the TAC Cup Girls. “They say every year it lifts so much, the quality and the community and how everyone’s getting around it is just getting a lot better. “It (the AFL Women’s Championships) was in Queensland again. “I had family up there who hadn’t seen football for a whole year between the last championships and they pretty much just said ‘wow, that’s unbelievable how much it’s changed and how much it’s changed since last year’ so I think that really put it into perspective, because i get to see it every day I suppose.”

Outside of her football, Taylor enjoys spending the majority of her time outdoors getting plenty of fresh air.

“I do woodwork as a subject at school, that’s something I really enjoy doing outside of school as well,” Taylor said. “That and I’m also into bike riding and skating so yeah, pretty much all the outdoorsy sort of things. “Next year I’m going to take a gap year and just work and sort out what I might want to do and I think sort of what’s on the plate at teh moment, is a teaching degree. maybe teaching sport or something along those lines, something I’m comfortable with.”

But the most immediate goal for Taylor is clear – get drafted onto an AFL Women’s list.

“I think for me footy was more of a social thing for a long thing and then once I started playing rep footy and started getting a bit better, I was like ‘oh this could be fun’,” Taylor said. “I might keep going, and once I got put in the National Academy I thought ‘alright I might as well give it a go’. “I’ve got the opportunity, I didn’t want to let it go.”

Walmsley grabs opportunity with both hands

IT was no surprise that Geelong Falcons’ Sophie Walmsley took to Australian Rules without much work, having already rowed, played local netball and school soccer.

“It started last year, I was playing netball with Newtown & Chilwell and I was in Year 12 and the girls that were playing footy on Sunday just said ‘come have a kick’ so that’s where it sort of started,” Walmsley said. “Then the season went and I just loved it and it was sort of my not-as-competitive sport because I was new to it. “Then just got a call from Jase (Jason Armistead, Geelong Falcons Girls coach) in October and then just came down to Falcons and it’s taken off from there.”

Walmsley is no stranger to switching codes, but why choose Australian Rules?

“Probably just the fact it was a new sport and something I hadn’t done before and there was lots of opportunities going around and Falcons is probably the top level I’ve been involved in a sport,” Walmsley said. “The community was really good and I just thought I’m going to take this opportunity and see where it goes to.”

Unlike many others in the TAC Cup Girls, Walmsley has not had the pressure of her final school year weighing down on her, instead focusing on her university studies and enjoying the freedom of football on the weekends.

“Yeah I’ve really loved Falcons,” Walmsley said. “It’s my first year at uni up at Melbourne, so it was sort of just new, footy was new, uni was new too. “It was just a good way to get involved and it’s been great and I’ve been lucky enough to play all the games.”

Walmsley was only nine days away from being a top-age player this season, and while Vic Country could only take one overage player to the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships (Rene Caris), the Falcons’ utility has enjoyed every opportunity thrown her way.

“I was really lucky in that there’s lots of girls who have been in Falcons for a while that are so experienced and play very mature and act very mature,” she said. “I guess I was just lucky I’ve been involved with sport for a while so I’ve been able to know how to step through it all, but just for every other girl that’s young, just have a crack. “Don’t let anyone else stop you, there’s so many other opportunities and pathways. “Girls footy is a prime example. “Who knew that there’d be an AFLW team now there’s VFL teams, there’s TAC Cup which is amazing. “We’re being included in so much. “It’s definitely good for me I’ve been able to get involved with it being older, but for everyone else there’s so many opportunities to take from it.”

Having joined the Western Bulldogs in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, Walmsley could hardly believe her luck.

“I’m so super excited about that,” she said post- TAC Cup Girls season. “I really didn’t know much about footy since it was my first year and then Katie (Geerings, Geelong Falcons Female Talent Manager) and Jase have really got me through TAC Cup and have talked to me about the possibilities and then now starting joining with the Bulldogs is just really exciting. Just happy to see where it takes me.”

A super athlete, Walmsley said her fitness has helped her adapt to the new sport, and having supportive teammates has been a bonus.

Mainly endurance has really helped me being consistent across the game,” she said. “Just being able to sit back and watch and get into it, has helped me understand that being in the sport my first year, it doesn’t always come first round, you don’t always have the best game but as we got more into the season I’ve been a lot happier with how I’ve been going. “It’s still new, you’ve just got to accept that and lots of the other girls have helped me realise just how to play it.”

Instead of trying to do too much, the Falcons coaching staff have kept it simple for Walmsley, something she has enjoyed while trying to develop the fundamentals and improve.

“(I’m) Just learning how to play the position and accepting that sometimes your role is just to play a position and not really so effective on every single ball you get,” Walmsley said. “So I’m just focusing on understanding at these levels that’s just how you go about your game, but (all the) coaches have been so helpful with that and helped me understand that it’s the best you can do and all you need to do to play your position.”

Walmsley is taking it one step at the time and as a sports addict she enjoys playing football in the winter and rowing in the summer. In her own words, “Sport is my main hobby.”

The run home: Geelong Falcons

REIGNING premiers Geelong Falcons have found themselves outside the eight this season, registering four wins from 14 games. Missing many of their top-agers due to Vic Country duties, the Falcons have been up-and-down at times, but when full-strength, have challenged the top sides. They have a strong midfield when it’s on song, and have been able to watch a number of bottom-age players develop through the season, while looming as a danger side for any team in the remainder of the season.

Wins: 4
Losses: 10
Draws: 0
Position: 10th
Points For: 771 (10th)
Points Against: 974 (7th)
Percentage: 79
Points: 16

Fixtures:

R15: vs. Dandenong Stingrays – MARS Stadium
R16: vs. Calder Cannons – MARS Stadium

National Combine Invitations: [5] Oscar Brownless, Connor Idun, Ned McHenry, Charlie Sprague, Sam Walsh

State Combine Invitations: [1] Brayden Ham

Rookie Me Combine Invitations: [1] Sam Conway

The Falcons face two tough teams in the final fortnight up against the Stingrays and Calder, but both could be wins, or both could be losses. It is hard to say with their stars back on the park, and when Sam Walsh is out there, anything can happen. The likes of Ned McHenry and Oscar Brownless form a strong midfield core, while Brayden Ham has been a revelation this season at both ends, and Charlie Sprague has been a huge loss up forward. Baxter Mensch keeps finding the football, while Connor Idun and Dane Hollenkamp have held down the defence with Cooper Cartledge. They could face any number of teams in the Wildcard Round from the Western Jets, Calder Cannons or Northern Knights, but one thing is for sure – they are one bottom four side no team will particularly want to play in the run to the finals.

Top Fives:

Disposals:

1 – Baxter Mensch – 309 (4th overall)
2 – Sam Walsh – 268
3 – Brayden Ham – 220
4 – Oscar Brownless – 206
5 – Doyle Madigan – 199

Marks:

1 – Brayden Ham – 71 (8th overall)
2 – Baxter Mensch – 52
2 – Blake Schlensog – 52
4 – Dane Hollenkamp – 43
5 – Sam Torpy – 41

Contested Possessions:

1 – Baxter Mensch – 154 (3rd overall)
2 – Ben Morton – 100
3 – Sam Walsh – 98
4 – Brayden Ham – 87
5 – Doyle Madigan – 87

Tackles:

1 – Ben Morton – 84 (5th)
2 – Doyle Madigan – 69
2 – Oscar Brownless – 69
4 – Baxter Mensch – 46
5 – Logan Taylor – 44

Hitouts:

1 – Sam Conway – 161 (10th overall)
2 – Blake Schlensog – 117
3 – Jack Grigsby – 95
4 – Dane Hollenkamp – 30
5 – Thomas Richardson – 29

Clearances:

1 – Baxter Mensch – 55 (8th overall)
2 – Ben Morton – 43
3 – Oscar Brownless – 40
4 – Sam Walsh – 30
5 – Doyle Madigan – 29
5 – Ed McHenry – 29

Inside 50s:

1 – Brayden Ham – 45 (eq. 17th overall)
1 – Sam Torpy – 45 (eq. 17th overall)
3 – Baxter Mensch – 41
4 – Sam Walsh – 35
5 – Oscar Brownless – 34

Rebounds:

1 – Charlie Harris – 40 (eq. 8th overall)
2 – Keidan Rayner – 30
3 – Cooper Cartledge – 28
4 – Dane Hollenkamp – 27
5 – Jesse Clark – 25

Goals:

1 – Brayden Ham – 19 (eq. 5th overall)
2 – Blake Schlensog – 10
3 – Sam Torpy – 8
4 – Connor Idun – 7
5 – Oscar Brownless – 6
5 – Baxter Mensch – 6
5 – Fletcher Wilson – 6

AFLW dream burning bright for DeGiacomi

A LATECOMER to the sport, Geelong Falcons’ key forward Sachi DeGiacomi has come a long way in a few years since taking up Aussie Rules, and now she cannot let it go.

“I started football in Year 9,” she said. “When one of my friends asked me to come play at a club and originally my parents said no, but then they finally let me play. “So I started for a bit of fun. “Then after about four weeks of playing, I got chosen to play interleague and then I’ve just taken  footy a bit more serious from then.”

DeGiacomi said she was not exactly sure how she made her way to the Falcons – no doubt found through her performances at a local level – but she is glad she did. DeGiacomi spoke of overcoming adversity and growing stronger as a group to propel themselves into the grand final, and take out the premiership on the back of an unbeaten year.

“I think that last year we faced a lot of hurdles together I guess you could say,” she said. “It definitely brought us closer as a team and it’s given us a lot of motivation to do well. “I’ve loved every minute of it, it’s been just a great experience. “Especially the girls. “They’re the best group of girls this year, and last year as well.”

The centre-half forward became a mainstay in the Falcons forward line, occasionally pushing up the ground, but became the main target inside 50. Her efforts throughout the year earned her the Leading Goalkicker Award, something she is proud to win.

“It was a pretty good feeling to win the leading goal kicker,” DeGiacomi said. “It was alright that I could help get score on the board for the team.”

But it was the other award she won – Amy Gorell #30 Award – that she cherished the most. The award was established this year after Amy Gorell, a Falcon last year was tragically killed in a car accident last year. It was to be awarded to a top-age player who demonstrates the behaviours that Gorell displayed as a player and leader of the Geelong Falcons: Commitment to the team’s success; relentless in their pursuit to getting the best out of themselves; lead by example on and off the field; positively add to the team’s culture; and constantly look for ways to improve as a player and leader.

“I’m so privileged to be able to be the first person to win that award,” DeGiacomi said. “To know that the coaches see the same characteristics in me as they saw in Amy as a player, makes me extremely humbled. “I also want to say thanks to the Gorell family for sharing the award with us, and have that, because it’s a really great way to honour Amy.”

DeGiacomi said through the tragedy, the group had grown stronger and formed a close bond throughout 2018.

“Yeah definitely (it made us closer), you could tell the way we played together this year,” she said. “We definitely played like we cared for each other and I guess that really came to show in all the wins, and us taking out the premiership as well. “The big situation brought us all together and made us appreciate each other.”

For DeGiacomi, she missed out on making Vic Country’s squad for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, but it has not slowed her desire to make the most of her football career at the highest possible level.

“Yeah I’d love to keep taking my footy further and hopefully play a few more games in the VFL, or hopefully look to play AFL in the next couple of years,” DeGiacomi said.

The Geelong Falcons forward has been pleased with her contested marking and goalkicking ability in 2018, focusing on building her confidence and improving her decision making this season. DeGiacomi said she felt her development has not only come on the field, but off the field as well thanks to the club’s development staff.

“Yeah heaps of development,” she said. “I think just even just as a person. I think Jason (Armistead, TAC Cup Girls coach) focused on building us as a person, not just as a footballer. “I guess that really helped just with every day life. “I thought I really developed as a footballer as well.”

The Year 12 student has also been carefully balancing her workload, able to focus on her studies now the football season is coming to a close.

“It’s been alright (the workload),” DeGiacomi said. “The Falcons was more towards the start of the year, so now that footy has backed off a little bit, I can focus more on school towards the end of the year, and exams and stuff like that.”

DeGiacomi said her passion in sport transcended her on-field exploits and she hoped to get into the sporting industry and give back to the sport that she loved.

“I’d love just anything in sport really,” she said. “I did gymnastics for 12 years outside of footy and played basketball and I’d probably like to be a physio at a footy club once I finish playing footy.”

It might have seemed like an impossible career when she was young, but now her sights are firmly set on making the AFL Women’s in the future.

“I’ve always been supporting footy with my dad and always thought it would be great to play,” DeGiacomi said. “But I never even really played at a local level so once I started doing that in Year 9, and then I started to take footy seriously. “I think it was maybe a few years ago when all the talk of the AFL Women’s league came about, I thought that it would actually be possible and then I really aspired to do it.”

Raw ruck talent learns to juggle workload

FINDING diamonds in the rough are what every recruiter and talent manager looks for, and if Geelong’s VFL Women’s and Geelong Falcons’ trial days are anything to go by, they are finding plenty of future footballers. For ruck Zoe Inei, it was about swapping the round ball for it’s oblong counterpart.

“I played soccer for six years and then I went to the VFL Cats Women’s Trial Day and then from that I just got into it for a bit of fun with one of my friends from school,” she said. From that (Trial Day), [Geelong Falcons Female Talent Manager] Katie (Geerings) came up to me and asked if I wanted to play and was talking to me a bit about the soccer. “Then I got an email asking if I wanted to play Falcons, so that was my first season and then I played local last season and now I’ve played my second season of Falcons.”

In 2018, Inei has been a key contributor to the Falcons’ outfit, providing a strong presence around the ruck contests, but also covering the ground with her athletic nature on show. Having had the extra season under her belt, Inei is feeling more comfortable playing at the level.

“It’s been really good.,” Inei said. “It’s very good because it’s longer, last season was five weeks and now it’s nine. “So it’s been really good just so we can have extra time with the other girls, and the coaching has been really good as well, the team’s really fun.”

A raw talent with plenty of improvement left, Inei said she knew there was plenty to work on, and she was striving towards becoming the best possible player she could be.

“I think (what I’m) looking to improve on is just a bit more skills and bit more speed and decision making with the skills,” she said. “Then I think a strength of mine is more encouraging my teammates and going hard at it.”

Her decision making and balancing is something she has had to get better at, as the workload between school and football increases and she learns how to deal with everything thrown her way.

“It’s alright because I have quite a few spares at school so I get most of my stuff done at school,” Inei said. “It’s good because I just come to footy and I just squish in whatever else around other times.”

Still unsure of what she wants to do as a career pathway, she knows where she wants to go with her football.

“Well so far, I just know after that (Vic Country representation) finishes I’ll be going to play local Under 18s comp and from there I’ll just see what happens,” she said.

Her dream is to play AFL Women’s like so many others, and she has been building a nice resume in the process as she looks to become as versatile as possible.

“So I have been playing ruck mostly,” she said. “But this season Jason (Armistead, Geelong Falcons Girls coach) has been putting me forward for a rest. “That’s been good, I’m happy to just go wherever they want.”

Now Inei will focus on finishing off the year and hopefully chasing that dream she has followed since she jumped codes.

Morrison’s remarkable rise from beginner to national MVP

FOR many that followed the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, it would be hard to believe that one of the overall tournament Most Valuable Players (MVPs) and indeed Vic Country’s MVP, had only taken up the sport a couple of years earlier. But for the equally quick and tough Nina Morrison, that is exactly what happened.

“The first time I played footy was about two years ago, there was a Talent ID day down at Deakin which dad said I should get down to and should give it a try,” she said. “I didn’t really know much about it or what it was going to involve but from there got asked to join the (Geelong) Falcons and it’s just escalated from there.”

Morrison has been one of the biggest improvers over the past two years, shooting from a virtual beginner, to one of the top players in the competition, showing off her trademark pace and physical presence around the ground for both Geelong and Vic Country. She said she has always enjoyed the physical aspects that football brings, as well as the team bonding which the sport allows when the group of girls run out together each week. Morrison has been developing her fundamentals and looking to become the most complete player she can, working on her non-dominant side, and her cleanliness at ground level.

When asked earlier in the year, Morrison was just looking forward to playing her role at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, it is fair to say she did that and more.

“It’s really exciting (getting selected for Vic Country),” she said pre-carnival. “I’m hoping to play some good footy at the Championships and then progress after that.”

Her form at the national carnival has certainly seen her progress in many people’s eyes and she has also thanked those at the Falcons and AFL Women’s Academy, who have really honed in on her abilities and worked on the areas she hopes to build.

“It’s been awesome,” she said. “Being exposed to that elite environment (AFL Women’s Academy). “The support networks you have through that and the mentor coaches and that are such as high calibre there, it’s really cool and really exciting.”

Morrison said the goal was to get drafted, but she also kept a level head when it came to her future, understanding how the system worked, and that there were always opportunities in the future.

“Yeah it would be really cool to get drafted at the end of the year if that was to happen,” she said. “But obviously there’s opportunities to be in the system still after that and get drafted in future years, but that would be the ultimate goal (this year).”

It has been a memorable year for Morrison, who prior to her success at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, celebrated a premiership with the Geelong Falcons. The Falcons went undefeated after dropping just the one game last year, and Morrison said the amount of talent at the club was testament to the quality of female footballers coming through the area, and the development within the walls at Geelong.

“It’s been a really good season this year,” Morrison said. “Compared to last season we’ve just improved even more and I think we’ve got a really solid core, so we don’t just rely on a few players, we have really solid depth which I think has allowed us to get where we are.”

Now it is a bit of a waiting game for Morrison leading up to this year’s AFL Women’s draft, but after a big season which brought many accolades and accomplishments both individually and as a team, it will just be a matter of continuing to develop in any way she can to be the best possible footballer.

Brancatisano relishes Knights’ captaincy role

NORTHERN Knights captain, Maddy Brancatisano enjoyed her leadership role throughout the TAC Cup Girls season, as she led her side to the inaugural TAC Cup Girls Grand Final.

Her sister, Lily captained the Knights last year and now plays for Geelong in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition. But despite the family name, Brancatisano did not expect to be handed the captaincy this year.

“I just did not think about it (being captain), it didn’t even come to my mind,” she said. “Then I got asked, I was so flattered. “It was awesome to lead those girls.”

The Knights midfielder ultimately led her side to a near perfect record, winning against every team except the Geelong Falcons. Leading a young side, the 18 year-old was initially focused on their development, but admits that she was able to develop her leadership as well.

“Being able to lead everyone and just direct them around, it helps also my confidence too,” Brancatisano said.

This certainly showed on the field, as the 18 year-old led by example with her clean hands, fierce tackling and elite ball-use. Not only did she benefit from the captaincy, but she also benefited from bonding with her teammates. Brancatisano says there was rarely a moment that she didn’t enjoy in their company. 

“I don’t think there was a session where we didn’t have fun or enjoy it,” the Knights midfielder said. “We got so close, it was like family.”

She believes that her captaincy role enabled her to showcase her own skills, which was well-recognised throughout the season. Brancatisano was named in the best four times and was rewarded with a place in the Vic Metro squad for the National AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. Amidst her TAC Cup journey, the 18 year-old admits that playing for Vic Metro never really crossed her mind.

“You don’t really think about it (playing Nationals) in TAC Cup, it’s more just about the winning and developing,” Brancatisano said.  “When I got the invitation, I was rapt.”

With nationals football now on her busy plate, Brancatisano is prioritising Aussie Rules over her second love, basketball. But despite being in Year 12 this year, the Knights captain was reluctant to give up the sport she has been playing since she was a child.

“I’ve been doing it (basketball) my whole life and I’ve just grown up around it,” Brancatisano said. “I’ve never really been selected for many state things or anything so I’ve just been enjoying it and playing because I love it. “But at the moment, playing SEABL (South East Australian Basketball League), it’s such a high level so I’m rapt to be able to do that, even if I sit on the bench and play a few minutes. “Not sure if I’ll do it next year with football, but I’ll just see where that goes.”

She has a lot of football ahead of her, as she is training with Carlton’s Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side and is about to hop on a plane to the Gold Coast to play for Vic Metro.

Even though she loves her sport, Brancatisano still has her sights set on university next year, but would love to continue to pursue her bright football career.

Relaxed Purcell enjoying football development

LIKE a number of other talented footballers, Geelong Falcons midfielder Olivia Purcell crossed to the sport a few years ago when a friend convinced her to give it a go. From the moment she picked up the ball, it clicked and over the recent years, Purcell has gone from strength to strength in each team she joined.

“It started in Year 8 or 9 I just decided to play for the school footy team and then someone just asked me to come down and play for their local team,” she said. “So I just came down and played for Newtown (and Chilwell) and then from there got involved with Vic Country in my first year, and then there was TAC Cup, Geelong Falcons and then been here ever since.”

Her rapid improvement from picking up the footy to becoming a vital player in the competition was a reality when she was selected to join the AFL Women’s Academy for the 2018 season.

“This is my first year at the Academy,” she said. “It’s really fun, really good, but really good physically as a player, preparing yourself, but also mentally as well.”

Purcell has become known for her competitive nature around the stoppages and her ability to win the ball in tight situations and extract it out of traffic. All attributes which have been on display for the Falcons in their premiership-winning year this year. But like any competitive person, Purcell is not resting on her laurels, determined to get better.

“Id love to keep improving my skills,” she said. “My kicking – get a bit longer kicking – and being my final year, just getting into senior footy probably my body positioning against the older girls.”

The Falcons and Vic Country midfielder is excited about the National AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships coming up, enjoying the fact she can pull on the ‘Big V’ against the most talented players around the country.

Outside of football she has a number of different hobbies, and while the dream is to get drafted, Purcell is just enjoying the moment, and experiences she is gaining from meeting new people.

“I’ve got a lot of different hobbies like surfing, going to the beach, music, playing drums,” she said.

Expect her to be a player to watch at the National AFLW Under 18 Championships, as she is one of a number of top Vic Country midfielders that will strive to win back-to-back titles at the carnival after their success last season.

Victorian Under 16s Girls prepare for National Championships

VICTORIA’S top Under 16s footballers from the TAC Cup Girls competition will converge on country venues this weekend in a couple of matches to test themselves against the best from other states. Vic Metro takes on South Australia in Horsham on Sunday, while Vic Country heads to the border to face NSW/ACT in Albury. The following week, Vic Metro will face off against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium in a curtain raiser to the Under 18 Girls’ sides. For those wondering, the Under 16s are made up of players born in 2002 and are not eligible to be drafted until 2020.

Vic Metro squad:

NoNameHtDOBTAC Region
1Olivia Meagher15110/12/02Eastern Ranges
2Mietta Kendall1543/9/02Eastern Ranges
3Taylah Morton15723/7/02Oakleigh Chargers
4Leah Spargo15728/1/02Western Jets
5Mary Daw15911/3/02Western Jets
6Abigail Bennett16018/10/02Northern Knights
7Jessica Fitzgerald1618/3/02Northern Knights
8Bella Eddey16311/2/02Sandringham Dragons
9Winnie Laing16425/5/02Sandringham Dragons
10Ashleigh Snow15623/10/02Northern Knights
11Eliza McNamara16619/4/02Sandringham Dragons
12Tarni Brown16626/3/02Eastern Ranges
13Alice Burke1683/10/02Sandringham Dragons
15Mimi Hill1674/10/02Oakleigh Chargers
16Alice O’Loughlin1698/7/02Oakleigh Chargers
17Alisa Magri17019/3/02Calder Cannons
18Amber Micallef17021/2/02Oakleigh Chargers
19Sarah Hartwig17312/4/02Sandringham Dragons
20Ellie McKenzie17417/10/02Northern Knights
21Tamsin Crook1763/10/02Calder Cannons
22Isabelle Pritchard1768/3/02Western Jets
23Jess Grace17625/12/02Eastern Ranges
24Alyssa Bannan17713/4/02Northern Knights
25Isabel Young17913/7/02Calder Cannons

Some names to watch:

Isabelle Pritchard
Key Position Defender | 176cm | Western Jets

Strong overhead, great leader and rarely beaten one-on-one. Her game knowledge and awareness is ahead of her years. A standout performer this season for the Jets.

Ellie McKenzie
Tall Utility | 174cm | Northern Knights

Unbelievable impact so far this season, named in the best every game she played. Can play forward, midfield or back, and is strong in the air. Sister of Vic Metro boys’ representative, Tom. Strong in the air, can kick goals at will, shown by her huge day out against Bendigo Pioneers.

Alyssa Bannan
Key Position Forward | 175cm | Northern Knights

Lit up Beaconsfield earlier in the year with three goals in three minutes and provides a good target up forward. Mobile tall who can kick goals and very few players her height are quicker once she gets goal side.

Sarah Hartwig
Key Position Defender | 173cm | Sandringham Dragons

Good one-on-one defender, quick on the lead to spoil and provides good rebounds out of the back half. Will create a strong 1-2 partnership with Pritchard in the back half.

Alice Burke
General Defender | 168cm | Sandringham Dragons

A good user of the footy, can play up the ground but is really settled in the back half. Daughter of St Kilda champion, Nathan. Crossed over from soccer and has been a revelation at the Dragons.

Abigail Bennett
Small Forward | 160cm | Northern Knights

Another Knights player who has had some impressive moments at half-forward. Can push into the midfield as well.

Tarni Brown
General Forward | 166cm | Eastern Ranges

Very raw, but clearly talented. Has a very nice sidestep and can create something out of nothing. Daughter of Gavin and sister to Callum and Tyler.

Olivia Meagher
Small Forward/Midfielder | 151cm | Eastern Ranges

Seemed to get better as the season went on, plays a link-up role at half-forward, and can kick goals or win the footy through the midfield.

Mimi Hill
Outside Midfielder | 167cm | Oakleigh Chargers

Winger who provides good run in transition and played some impressive games throughout the season, especially in the absence of the Chargers top-age midfielders.

Jess Fitzgerald
Small Utility | 161cm | Northern Knights

Tends to play forward, but can play through midfield as well. A creative player who can kick goals from tight angles.

Winnie Laing
Inside Midfielder | 164cm | Sandringham Dragons

As tough as they come on the inside, loves the contest and does not take a backwards step.

Bella Eddey
General Forward | 163cm | Sandringham Dragons

Another creative forward who is good in the air or at ground level and just got better as the season went on.

Alice O’Loughlin
General Forward | 169cm | Oakleigh Chargers

Starred late in the season at half-forward and can push up the ground as well. Creative and a good user of the football going inside 50.

Ashleigh Snow
Small Defender | 156cm | Northern Knights

Was one of the Knights’ best in the grand final and plays taller than her 156cm. Good overhead and creates some great drive out of defence.

Alisa Magri
Tall Forward | 170cm | Calder Cannons

Was a mainstay of the Cannons forward line this season and managed to get on the end of a few goals throughout. Another tall target inside 50 for Metro.

Eliza McNamara
Inside Midfielder | 166cm | Sandringham Dragons

Had a blistering start to the season and had the ball on a string early. A crucial part of the inside midfield at the Dragons, she showed good strength and an ability to move out of traffic.

Vic Country squad:

NoNameDOBHtTAC Region
1Jerusha Devarakonda3/3/02158Geelong Falcons
2Leila Raymond9/3/02158Gippsland Power
3Holly Andrews15/8/02160Gippsland Power
4Elizabeth Snell14/3/02161Bendigo Pioneers
5Megan Fitzsimon10/8/02162Gippsland Power
6Renee Saulitis14/8/02163GWV Rebels
7Jemma Finning19/3/02165Bendigo Pioneers
8Kate Adams15/3/02165Murray Bushrangers
9Emily Nicholson19/3/02165Murray Bushrangers
10Abbey Jordan8/9/02165Dandenong Stingrays
11Brooke Hards19/7/02166Bendigo Pioneers
12Tyanna Smith29/10/02166Dandenong Stingrays
13Chloe Leonard1/2/02167GWV Rebels
15Chandra Abrahams24/3/02169Gippsland Power
16Sharmaine Reilly8/11/02170Bendigo Pioneers
17Sophie Milsome23/4/02172Geelong Falcons
18Zoe Hill13/5/02173Dandenong Stingrays
19Matilda Van Berkel6/9/02174Gippsland Power
20Stephanie Glover11/11/02176GWV Rebels
21Isabella Robson26/4/02176GWV Rebels
22Renee Tierney23/5/02168Geelong Falcons
23Isabella Simmons19/4/02181GWV Rebels
24Olivia Barber14/7/02184Murray Bushrangers
25Maggie Caris21/12/02188GWV Rebels

Renee Tierney
Tall Forward | 168cm | Geelong Falcons

Has had a really consistent season for the Falcons. Good overhead, booted a bag of goals against Oakleigh at Warrawee Park earlier in the season.

Jemma Finning
Balanced Midfielder | 165cm | Bendigo Pioneers

After the two top-age girls in Megan Williamson and Kodi Jacques, Finning was one of the more consistent midfielders at the Pioneers, regularly named in the best.

Brooke Hards
General Defender | 166cm | Bendigo Pioneers

A rebounding defender who can play forward, Hards is good in the air and reads the play well.

Renee Saulitis
Small Forward | 163cm | GWV Rebels

Talented small forward who can kick some great goals from tight angles. Very quick and can pounce on a spillage from a marking contest.

Isabella Simmons
Key Position Forward | 181cm | GWV Rebels

Tall target up forward who pushes up the ground and provides a contest. Raw but has shown some good signs.

Zoe Hill
Key Position Defender | 173cm | Dandenong Stingrays

One of the more consistent 15-16 year-old defenders in the league. Worked well with Lucy Cripps to ensure the Stingrays had good defensive strength in the air.

Olivia Barber
Ruck/Key Position Forward | 184cm | Murray Bushrangers

Rotated between ruck and key forward and was named in the Bushrangers best a number of times. Could rotate with Maggie Caris through the ruck or up forward.

Chandra Abrahams
Tall Utility | 169cm | Gippsland Power

Has played a mixture of forward and back, and while the consistency is still building, she has tricks that not many players have, such as a penetrating kick from 50m on the run from a couple of steps.

Kate Adams
General Forward | 165cm | Murray Bushrangers

Buzzes around the forward line and can push up into the midfield. Fairly clean and clearly talented, will be a player to watch at the Bushies over the next couple of years.

Maggie Caris
Ruck | 188cm | GWV Rebels

With her sister Rene in the AFLW Academy, Maggie followed her into the Rebels program and looked good in the final game of the season against Oakleigh. Already 188cm, Caris will likely play ruck, but could be tried in key position positions as well.

Tyanna Smith
Balanced Midfielder | 166cm | Dandenong Stingrays

Another player who seemed to get better as the season went on, Smith played through the midfield and won her own ball as well as created run in transition.

Jerusha Devarakonda
Small Defender | 158cm | Geelong Falcons

Raw, but talented defender who pushed up to the wing for the Falcons. Got involved a number of times in the grand final and has plenty of scope for the future. Quick and fierce.

Stephanie Glover
Key Position Utility | 176cm | GWV Rebels

Impressed down back, but also showed she could go forward and kick a goal for the Rebels. Good overhead and nimble, she provides plenty of rebound out of the back half.

Holly Andrews
Outside Midfielder/Small Forward | 160cm | Gippsland Power

Played all nine games this season and was named among the best a couple of times for the Power. Had some nice moments within games.

Chloe Leonard
General Forward | 167cm | GWV Rebels

Booted four goals in eight games, including two against Calder Cannons. Was named in the Rebels’ best a number of times and provided a target inside 50.

Emily Nicholson
General Defender | 165cm | Murray Bushrangers

Played every game this season for the Bushrangers and became a regular in the back six. She was named among the best on a couple of occasions.

U16 Fixtures:

June 10 – Vic Metro vs. South Australia in Horsham & Vic Country vs. NSW/ACT in Albury
June 16 – Vic Country vs Vic Metro at GMHBA Stadium, Geelong

Season reviews: TAC Cup Girls – Geelong Falcons

IT was a perfect season for the Geelong Falcons in 2018, winning every game and then taking out the TAC Cup Girls Grand Final by defeating the Northern Knights by 11 points in the decider. They showed a huge amount of depth throughout the season and had very few weaknesses across any of their areas – midfield, forward, defence and ruck – with talented players to complement every line. They looked good from start to finish and in the end got the job done and celebrated the ultimate prize – the premiership.

Position: 1st (Premiers)
Win-loss: 9-0
Percentage: 294%

Results:

R1: defeated Sandringham Dragons by 20 points
R2: defeated Greater Western Victoria Rebels by 39 points
R3: defeated Dandenong Stingrays by six points
R4: defeated Oakleigh Chargers by 70 points
R5: defeated Murray Bushrangers by nine points
R6: defeated Eastern Ranges by 31 points
R7: defeated Calder Cannons by 20 points
R8: defeated Northern Knights by eight points
R9: defeated Western Jets by 55 points
GF: defeated Northern Knights by 11 points

Key players:

Olivia Purcell: A terrific hard-nosed inside midfielder who constantly laid tackles, did all the defensive things and one percenters right throughout the season. Purcell showed good burst out of a stoppage and a unique ability to stand up in a tackle. She occasionally moved around the ground to other positions, but was known for her ball-winning ability in the middle. In the AFLW Academy match against Geelong VFLW side, she more than held her own against bigger bodies. Expect her to be one to star at the National Under 18 Championships.

Nina Morrison: A whirlwind past six months, Morrison raced from being an addition in the AFLW Academy to being a genuine star of the competition. She has lightning speed and is a tackling machine. She would often burst out of congestion and break down opposition zones with her ability to take them on and move well in transition. She also showed her versatility in the final round against the Western Jets, moving to full-forward and booting three goals among an array of shots on goal in windy conditions. So strong overhead and hard to move in a tackle.

Lucy McEvoy: The Geelong Falcons captain is a bottom-ager but was one of the most consistent players throughout the season. She held down the fort in defence along with Denby Taylor and a number of 16 and 17 year-olds. McEvoy captained the side with great leadership and etched her name into the history books when she lifted the premiership cup aloft on grand final day. Strong overhead, an ability to play at either end, and the nous to position herself in the right areas to intercept and rebound make her a damaging defender.

Denby Taylor: Underrated player all season who stood out like a beacon on grand final day. The best on ground in the decider was everywhere, moving up to the wing and taking grab after grab and having multiple shots on goal in one of the best second halves of the year by any player. She played forward in the AFLW Academy match booting a couple of goals, but also held her own in defence which is where she prefers to be. Another player who is strong overhead and provides good drive out of defence out. A long kick of the football too.

Tarryn Love: Often found burrowing under packs, Love missed a number of games due to injury mid-season. But when she returned, Love was one of the more consistent players, always offering defensive pressure and shovelling out handballs to running teammates. She spent some time down forward and provided a smaller target at ground level. Had the first Falcons goal assist of the grand final and then booted the next goal moments later. An important player for any midfield.

Sachi DeGiacomi: The key forward was no doubt a tad unlucky not to receive a Vic Country jumper this season after a fairly consistent year. She provided a target and kicked goals in most of her games and became the first Falcons goalkicker in the grand final. DeGiacomi has already played one game for Geelong’s VFLW side and will look to establish herself in the state league.

Zoe Inei: The raw ruck prospect showed really promising signs throughout the season, and will be one to watch at the National AFLW Under 18 Championships. She has good athleticism and an ability to win clean taps around the ground. Moves well and can play up forward as well which is always important.

Summary:

Geelong Falcons completed the 2018 season without a hitch – winning all 10 games they played and taking out the 2018 premiership. While many of the top-age players will make their way onto either AFLW or VFLW lists in the next 12 months, there are still plenty of bottom-age and 16 year-olds coming through the ranks that are likely to keep the success rolling, with Renee Tierney and Abbey Chapman a couple of bookends that will be ones to keep an eye on next season and beyond.