Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s Round 12 saw an influx of highly-rated NAB League Girls graduates taking the next step on the pathway toward the AFL Women’s competition.
With the NAB AFLW Under-18 Championships concluding on the Gold Coast three weeks ago, some of Australia’s most talented young players have made the leap to senior level before October’s NAB AFL Women’s Draft.
Five members of the NAB AFL Women’s All Australian Team named in the wake of the Championships appeared in VFLW Round 12, along with a further 14 Vic Country or Vic Metro squad members.
Among the All Australians on the weekend:
- Georgia Patrikios (Calder Cannons) – MVP of both the Championships and the undefeated title-winning Vic Metro team – enjoyed a prolific VFLW debut in Essendon’s 39-point defeat of Williamstown on the weekend, the hard-running midfielder recording 20 disposals, 12 contested possessions and seven tackles;
- Vic Country MVP and All Australian captain Lucy McEvoy (Geelong Falcons) played her second match for the Geelong Cats and kicked a goal from eight touches in a 16-point loss to the Darebin Falcons;
- Pre-listed St Kilda AFLW player Molly McDonald (Dandenong Stingrays) also booted a major from eight disposals in her second outing for the Southern Saints – a 29-point win against the Casey Demons;
- 2019 Northern Knights premiership skipper Gabrielle Newton recorded nine disposals, four tackles and one goal on her VFLW debut in Carlton’s 46-point loss to Melbourne Uni; and
- Sophie Molan (GWV Rebels) picked up 10 disposals, laid eight tackles and scored a goal in the Western Bulldogs’ 78-point victory over the NT Thunder in her first VFLW match.
— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) July 27, 2019
Molan said being involved in the Bulldogs’ program since finishing at GWV had been an eye-opening experience.
“When I walked in for the first training session and (Bulldogs AFLW captain) Ellie Blackburn was in the gym, I thought: ‘Wow, she’s actually my teammate’,” Molan said.
“It’s so amazing training with the AFLW girls. They all come and help you out. Kirsty Lamb has been really good for me; she always partners up with me in kicking drills and challenges me.
“(VFLW mentor) Sean Kavanagh is a great coach too. He’s really looking to develop me in all areas of the ground.”
Development is the focus for Molan’s contemporaries as well.
Of her VFLW experience, Patrikios said: “I’m really just hoping to play against some bigger bodies. It’s exciting to come up against them and see how I go.”
Meanwhile, McEvoy is aiming to “get as much game time and fitness as I can… and just keep trying to get better”.
Other Under-18 Championships squad members to appear in VFLW Round 12 alongside the five All Australians were:
- Abbey Chapman (Geelong Falcons/Geelong Cats);
- Kate Douglass (Bendigo Pioneers/Williamstown);
- Madeline Edwards (Eastern Ranges/Richmond);
- Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western Jets/Western Bulldogs);
- Britney Gutknecht (Northern Knights/Carlton);
- Georgia Howes (Dandenong Stingrays/Casey Demons);
- Gemma Lagioia (Oakleigh Chargers/Collingwood);
- Tahlia Merrett (Eastern Ranges/Williamstown);
- Nell Morris-Dalton (Northern Knights/Darebin Falcons);
- Sarah Sansonetti (Northern Knights/Darebin Falcons);
- Cleo Saxon-Jones (Western Jets/Melbourne Uni);
- Isabella Shannon (Dandenong Stingrays/Southern Saints);
- Nikia Webber (Gippsland Power/Casey Demons); and
- Ella Wood (GWV Rebels/Western Bulldogs).
In 2018, 19 of the 20 NAB League Girls players selected in the AFLW Draft had appeared at VFLW level during that season, including 13 of the draft’s top 18 selections. Top-five picks Nina Morrison (Geelong Falcons/Geelong VFLW), Sophie Van De Heuvel (GWV Rebels/Williamstown), Madison Prespakis (Calder Cannons/Melbourne Uni) and Jordyn Allen (Dandenong Stingrays/Casey Demons) all followed this path to the elite level.
A host of Victorian girls now testing themselves in the VFLW will be hoping to achieve the same result come October.