Crunch time in women’s season

As the men’s season takes its first step this weekend, the 2021 Veolia Limestone Coast Women’s Football League climbs into top gear. The final contenders were revealed after the home-and-away season wrapped up with four competitive matches in last Thursday’s final round at Vansittart and McLaughlin Park.

Penola sealed its fate by locking in third position with a commanding victory over Millicent. Before the Saints could blink on home turf, the Eagles had already spread their wings with a flying start in the first half.

A four-goal haul by Georgina Jacobs powered Penola to a 31-point advantage before the main break, while Ellise Berkin and Heidi Clark were also impactful. Madi Turner helped inspire three goals for Millicent, but it was never enough.

The Eagles eased to a seven-goal triumph with seven players finding the big sticks. South Gambier ensured it did not take its foot off the pedal throughout the entire season by finishing its home-and-away campaign with another quality performance.

The Demons met 2019 premier Mundulla in the late game at McLaughlin Park and the ladder leader set the tone with a barnstorming start. Having charged out of the blocks, South kicked five unanswered goals from as many shots before Mundulla had a chance to trouble the scorers.

At quarter time the Demons enjoyed a 30-0 lead and despite a sedate second term it continued to grow. Mundulla salvaged some pride with a strong final stanza, but it was too late with South victorious by 37 points.

Neave Delaney had another big night with four goals and Chelsea Frost also chipped in with two off her boot, while Shelby Auld took home the best-player award. Carlee Feder was Mundulla’s leading light.

One big quarter was not enough for Casterton Sandford to overhaul Kybybolite. After Kyby took control in the opening stages, the Cats clawed to within 14 points with a big second-term effort.  However, the Victorians did not hit the scoreboard for the remainder of the game as Kybybolite stormed to the finish.

Nothing could stop Della Hannaford, who kicked five majors of her own to secure her rightful place as the competition’s leading goal scorer. Suzie Maber also performed with two majors and the top performer was Molly Davidson.

Erin Horsnell was the top Cat on the day. Kalangadoo prevailed in the closely fought battle for the fourth and final post-season position by knocking off North Gambier at Tigerland. Little separated the Magpies, Mundulla and Casterton Sandford in the fight for a semi-final berth and a mustwin situation emerged.

Kalangadoo rose to the occasion, but it was not all smooth sailing under the setting sun with Elizabeth Plew kicking an early goal to give North some hope. It was a tough footy to win in the physical game as both teams looked to outlast each other, but eventually the Magpies were too strong.

With its season on the line, Kalangadoo’s pressure started to overwhelm the home team and a small lead opened up before the first break. Scoring dried up in the second term before the Magpies flew clear with a dominant performance in the “premiership quarter” to ensure the Tigers had no hope of a comeback.

Two goals to Chloe Pratt and an uplifting effort by Rebecca Peters pushed Kalangadoo to a 55-point victory. The Magpies now face the stiff battle of overcoming the might of South in this Sunday’s semi-final at McLaughlin Park for a place in the decider.

Meanwhile, a seventh-straight loss left North near the bottom of the ladder and coach Marcus Thomson said he hoped for more. “I was pretty disappointed honestly,” he said. “They started well, but then some of the decision making was not up to scratch and they struggled to hit a target.”

But Thomson said he knew it would take time for his young team to develop and was happy with how they progressed. “Most of last year’s players moved on, so we had another fresh group again and it was always going to be tough to get everyone on the same level,” he said. “Most of them had never picked up a footy before, but are now in the best players, so we definitely got better as we went along.

“Obviously our captain Lorelle Walker was good all year, but most of our Under 16’s like Lilly Walker will be handy football players in a few years. “Hopefully we can keep everyone we have now to build on what we have learnt and if we stay together we should be okay.”

North has one more chance for success this Sunday in the playoff for seventh spot with Millicent. Thomson has high hopes after only 16 points separated the pair in round 5. “It was a close one last time we played and we could have snatched a win there,” he said. “Hopefully we can shut those things down and get a win which would be nice.”

Mundulla and Casterton Sandford will fight for the best of the rest tag, while the two semi-finals take centre stage at McLaughlin Park in the afternoon. Kybybolite starts on the front foot with Penola, while Kalangadoo has nothing to lose against the dominant South side.

Sunday’s first match is at 11am before the final semi-final’s opening bounce is at 3.30pm.

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