Women’s Season Review

Women’s B&F and Award Winners

Congratulations to the following players on their fantastic seasons in 2018.

Seniors
Best & Fairest – Stephanie Defina
Runner Up Best & Fairest – Sophie Bangs
Most Consistent – Clare Wilson
Most Determined – Gabrielle Opray
Coaches Award – Amelia Robison

Reserves
Best & Fairest – Greta Kaehne
Runner Up Best & Fairest – Savannah Dunwell
Most Consistent – Emilia Fuller
Most Determined – Laura Chesney
Coaches Award – Alexandra Sertic

Women’s Rising Star – Sara Fortunato

Women’s Season Wrap

Moving up to Premier Blue (effectively Division 2), integrating a whole new team, remaining competitive and cohesive, while replicating the premiership win of 2017 was always going to be hard. If one was to judge the Women’s season based on ladder position, it might be easy to assume that success is not a word we’d be using to describe our year. However, the definition of success can obviously be subjective depending on how you define it.

Benchmarking our performance against the above challenges, within the coaching and playing group, there is zero doubt we have been successful (premierships aside) – and everyone involved should be very proud.

Looking back to preseason, 2018 started by bringing together a mix of old and new faces – those keen to build on what we started last year, along with those who were just commencing their football journey. For those new to the game it meant starting with the basics, but with the bonus of our more experienced players being able to provide guidance and lead by example. This dynamic made for a similar build up and preparation to our inaugural year, where we went into the season still figuring things out, perhaps a little underdone and with a sense of uncertainty about how we would go. At the same time there was the same feeling of positivity and fun around the group.

Seniors
With the core group returning and some great new talent in the likes of SaraIzzRachaelGeorgia and Anna, we got the year off to a flying start with a sensational win against the reigning (and eventual) premiers, St Mary’s, in Round 1 away from home. This removed the uncertainty about whether we could match it with the more experienced teams in the division, and from here on I don’t think there were ever any doubts about our ability to be competitive.

Sadly, it also kicked off a season-long cycle of quite serious injuries as we lost Kigs to a broken hand, from which she is still recovering. This added to ACL injuries sustained by Bec K (preseason) and Maddy (Round 2), hand fractures for Maggie (preseason), Rhi (training post-Round 3) and Sam A (Round 4), torn ankle ligaments for El, and a fractured nose to Lou (both Round 3). The list goes on as the season wore on.

In fairness, it sounded as though all teams experienced similar sorts of injuries over the course of the season, but it hit us particularly hard early on. As a result, our great opening round win was followed by four losses in which we fought hard and were never completely outplayed, but struggled to adjust to a more physical level of football. The difference in all those games was the ability of the opposition to put on two or three goals, while we had difficulty scoring, leaving us to play catch up.

We rounded out the first half of the season with a morale boosting win against Mazenod and a strong display against the undefeated West Brunswick. While disappointing, the injuries and mixed results in the first seven games forced us to test players in different positions and work harder at training on implementing a running style of play that suited our strengths. At the mid-point of the year there was a great feeling around the team, as we had shown more than enough to believe we could finish the season with a positive win-loss ratio from the remaining games.

Core to our positional restructure at the halfway mark was throwing Sam A and Brig H into defence, relieving Steph D of a key defensive post, and giving SophGabMaggieClare and El more midfield responsibility. This gave us structure across the backline and unleashed some serious attacking talent around the ground. Added to this, we were called on players who were developing well in the Reserves. Consistent performances from TraceyEdieGretaGeorgia O and Jane gave us options across a range of positions. While still learning the game, it was great to see all of them give 100% when given the opportunity, with some solidifying their spots in the Seniors. There is no doubt that this difficult period, accelerated individual and team development, and one can’t help but think we will look back on this as the season’s silver lining.

On field, we really started to come together as a team from Rounds 8 to 10. Without getting the results we were aiming for and deserved, suffering frustrating losses to Monash with the scores level at halftime and Brunswick due to wayward kicking, we were backing ourselves, fitness was increasing, the skill level lifting, and were finding a comfortable rhythm and individual confidence. It was also handy that we had a few big ins.

Full credit to everyone, the standard at training continued to lift and the determination to finish off the season with some momentum was evident. This was on display during our Round 11 win against our old foe, Collegians. Having lost to them in Round 3, and with a mathematical chance that they could still make finals, we had additional motivation. We put on a dominant team display that combined hard running, tackling and great ball movement. It was important in the context of knowing that a team we came up against in 2017 hadn’t progressed beyond us in 2018.

If there was desire for revenge against Collegians, then it was off the charts against Old Geelong. They trounced us in our very first competitive game last year at Como Park, a loss that still lingered. Sitting miles apart on the ladder, it would’ve been easy to mistake which team would go onto play finals this year. Altering our forward line structure and nailing the midfield rotations, we never looked like losing this game. We also cemented our ruck combination. Dee and Meg provide different styles and strengths, and from this round on we really began to take advantage of this. But the most pleasing aspect of this game was the preparation the players put into it and that they recognised they could execute a game plan against very good opposition. It was our grand final and a win to savour.

That focus on preparation and executing the game plan carried on into a tight contest against West Brunswick. We looked to take the game on and knew we were capable of causing an upset, which looked entirely possible as we clawed them back on multiple occasions to be in it at the final change. Our forward structures improved again, with our talls and smalls continuing to understand their role as we looked like a well-drilled side going forward. Multiple hard tackles from NatChelseaAsh, and co., and smart crumbing goals from midfielders, highlighted this. Ultimately, the clock beat us as we went down fighting.

The strides we made in the second half of the year culminated in a resounding final round win against Mazenod. It was fitting that we put on a hard running, attacking and exciting performance that really characterises what this team is capable of. Without diminishing the 2017 grand final performance, watching how well we moved the ball as unit and stuck to our roles as individuals against Mazenod, it is clear we are an infinitely better team. That is our mark of success.
With the season over, on reflection it’s fair to say that we probably should have played finals. We were definitely capable of it and it’s positive that members of the playing group have stated this. It is worth pointing out that of the teams who did not make finals (Collegians, Mazenod and Brunswick), none of them beat a team who finished higher on the ladder. We beat three, including the premiers. Read into that what you will.

Andrew Romanin & Ken Schwab
Women’s Seniors Coaches


Reserves
2018 is a year that I will remember over the years as one of my highlights of football thanks to the great people involved whether playing, helping out or around the club.

I was excited about the season starting and our first game against St Mary’s. Whilst the result for the Reserves wasn’t a win, there were some really positive signs for the rest of the year.  Our attack and commitment of team showed real promise with all but a handful playing their first game of football.

To think that two weeks later however the commitment of the team and their work paid off in Round 3 when we secured our first win for the year against Collegians, with four players kicking their first goal for the club as we ran out eventual winners by 8 points.

While the rest of the year had its challenges with injuries, the great improvement of so many players would see them being promoted to the Seniors throughout the year. The results didn’t always go our way, losing close games against Brunswick and Mazenod, we would go on to win a further three games and ultimately finishing 5th on the ladder which is incredibly impressive for our first year.

There were so many highlights and every player can be so proud of the way we attacked the contest. Our pressure and attitude towards each game no matter the result was a testament to every player. The defensive work was first class as our tackling pressure around the ground and ability to play contested football continued to improve each week becoming an absolute strength of the team highlighted by our come from behind win against Monash.

To watch the skills and knowledge of the game develop each week as well as the team bond that developed throughout the year was a testament to all those involved – players and supporters. To see the development in decision making and backing our first instinct on the field and the trust that was had in each other as a group was amazing.
To finish the year with a win, and to show how quickly we could score with our first goal of the match coming in under 40 seconds, there is much to look forward to in 2019.

At the presentation night it was great to recognise those individuals that received awards, as well as the entire playing group, supporters and those that helped throughout 2018. Congratulations to the following, and a few select words on the winners.

Greta Kaehne – B&F winner for 2018 Reserves. Greta had an amazing year in 2018. Her attack on the ball and run from Half Back became trade marks of her game. Polling votes in 10 games including

Sav Dunwell – Runner Up B&F for 2018 Reserves. Sav had the honour of kicking the first goal for the Reserves team and along with her runner up was the leading goal kicker for the team. Sav was relentless in winning the ball

Emilia Fuller – Most Consistent 2018. Emilia received votes in an amazing 12 games for the year. She was always at the bottom of the pack winning the ball and her defensive pressure set the example each game.

Laura Chesney – Most Determined 2018. Laura showed her competitive nature and determination every game. Her run and pressure against opposition, her attitude to get the ball and move it forward and her learning of different positions were evident each week.

Alex Sertic – Coaches Award 2018. Alex continued to improve during the year and her application and desire to learn were first class. She sort out feedback and welcomed it as she continued to work on all areas of her game wether at training or during games.

It has been an incredible experience to be involved with the players and supporters each week, as the club and team has developed each week. I’m excited about being involved with the teams next year and can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store as for many they enter their second year of football.

Thank you to each player that I had the pleasure of coaching this year – you made it a memorable experience and as did everyone that helped. An amazing group of people and I hope to see them all next year.

Well done on the year.

Looking to 2019
Next season will bring new challenges, new faces and new expectations. The development curve of this season has been fantastic in taking us to another level. It’s easy to get self-absorbed and say there is serious talent in your own playing group, but with the benefit of two seasons of VAFA women’s football and an understanding of what we are up against, we should be confident to say that we can be up there with the best. Time will tell.
Some special Wearly stats about the season:

  1. The Women’s squad totalled 61 players for the season. Average Age at start of the Season was 23, which increased to just 24 by the end of the season. The squad contained 4 players who would have been eligible to play under 19s.
  2. The Senior Team totalled 40 players for the season. Average Age for most games ranged from 23 to 25.
  3. The Reserves Team totalled 37 players for the season. Average Age for most games ranged from 22 to 23.
  4. 34 Players made their debut for the club in either the Senior or Reserves side.
  5. 19 Players kicked their first Goal for the club in either the Senior or Reserves side.

In addition to our winners, there are many people to thank for their time and commitment throughout the year. In no particular order this includes our committee reps (KathHookyBec KAlex), support staff (StefJacksonJayTim WMaddyBec K), the training staff, all friends and family members who filled game day roles, and the broader committee and club personnel (AdamBoydTim CWearlyAnsonKillerGavEbbo). And most of all, the wonderful and committed group of women at Old Camberwell. Apologies if we have missed anyone.
Some special thanks goes to Schwaby who will not continue as Senior Coach in 2019. Schwaby has been at the heart of what we have achieved over the last couple of years. While he’s been a fantastic coach, he’s been an even better friend and mentor to everyone involved. His impact is hard to quantify. Some of us will miss his jokes, but everyone will miss what he’s brought to this club and the mark he has left on our women’s teams.

Alex MacKenzie – Women Reserves Coach