Limestone Coast Women’s Football League sides prepare for 2022

The Limestone Coast Women’s Football League sides will kick off this weekend.

Kybybolite eager to ‘go one better’

Kybybolite may be the most consistent team in LCWFL history and have a premiership flag under its belt, but the team is sick of being the bridesmaid.

Kyby has reached the previous two Grand Finals and finished second best with the latest a particularly sore spot being on home turf.

Mundulla and South Gambier have both overcome Kybybolite on the big day but coach Luke Crossling looks back at the near misses positively.

DETERMINED: Kybybolite has finished second best in the previous two LCWFL Grand Finals and is determined to claim the top prize. Pic: Thomas Miles

“Someone has to be the bridesmaid, but it shows we are doing something right to get there because a lot of teams do not get there,” he said.

“We cannot dwell on the past, so we will rock up this weekend and look to give ourselves the best chance this season.”

After recovering from the defeat, Kybybolite has been training since the end of October with COVID-19 and Christmas breaks being thrown in.

After breaking her ankle last year, Holly Hannaford will not return which will be a big loss to the squad, but Crossling stressed plenty of talent remains on the team sheet.

“It will be quite a different squad to what we had last year after a few girls retired and younger ones went off to university

“It gives us a chance to introduce some new players into the system which will be a good challenge.

“But we will still have the core group of players like Ella Jones, Dellie Brown, Della Hannaford, Tyler Atkinson and Sophie Ford so the team will form around them.”

With many big names fronting up once again, expect Kyby to be a top contender.

The club is also fielding an Under 16’s side in the exciting new competition and Crossling said it has sparked plenty of interest.

“We had a lot of girls before school holidays, but they will start fully forming again soon,” he said.

“We thought we have to have a young girls team otherwise it wont be sustainable and hopefully they can enjoy the game.”

Penola plans to harness momentum

Penola was the surprise packet from the 2021 LCWFL and hopes to harness its momentum to even more success after landing some big-name recruits.

Last year the Eagles soared from sixth to third with an impressive campaign fuelled by positive energy.

Over the offseason the team has welcomed South Gambier premiership stars Emma and Simone MacDonald, plus Western Australian recruit Nell Eastough.

FLYING HIGH: A positive energy helped Penola rise up the ladder last year and the Eagles will be a team to watch. Pic: Thomas Miles

Penola coach Daniel Hackwill said they have already offered so much to his young squad since starting preseason in October.

“We always wanted Penola to be a place people wanted to play at and be in a good spot for the next 30 years,” he said.

“The three newcomers have given the team so much talent and lots of ideas already.

“They are also just really good people and have been great for the young girls because we have had a pretty big turnaround in the squad.

“A few are out due to pregnancy, while others have moved on like Heidi Clarke, who is off to Western Australia.

“But what we have found after last year is we are starting to develop a culture where people want to be and we have attracted a few young locals.

“Their progression from when we started to now is awesome and we should still be pretty strong I reckon.”

Hackwill said the secret being last year’s success was the team’s happy environment.

“One of our massive strengths was that everyone just got along,” he said.

“Everyone brought in and wanted to be there for the same reason, the whole team worked hard for each other and good things started to happen.

“It gave us time to up the hours so the girls could get a better understanding of the game and their enjoyment created some results.

Tigers show stripes in bid to rise to top

North Gambier hopes to show its stripes and rise up the ladder in the 2022 Veolia Limestone Coast Women’s Football League season.

Despite tasting the high of scoring victory in the opening round against Kongorong, the year 2021 proved to be a tough one for the inexperienced Tigers line-up.

The yellow and black lost the remainder of their home and away games to slump to eighth on the ladder.

TIGERTIME: North Gambier is in a position to field a junior and senior female football team in 2022 and the club hopes to see the investment pay off on and off the field. Pic: Thomas Miles

However, North managed to end the season on a high with a confidence-boosting win over Millicent in the playoff for seventh place.

After laying the foundations for the gutsy win in the first half, the Tigers flew home scoring 25 points in the final term to get the job done with a leg in the air.

The promising performance was the also the first time the yellow and black passed double figures on the scoreboard.

Chloe Perryman and Lorrelle Walker were the main architects behind the success scoring two goals each.

They will be some of the key forwards to watch circling the goals, while Piper Killick, Carly Ploenges and Fiona Young also fulfill big roles in the team.

Looking to build on the promise from the end of season win, the Tigers hit the training track at the end of October.

It has been an exciting time at Vansittart Park with the development of the new Under 16’s competition.

North has been one of the few clubs in a position to field a junior team across a series of come and try games in recent years.

But finally the club will play in a new junior league alongside Kybybolite, South Gambier and Kongorong this year.

The final touches of preparation have been stalled since a RAT collection site popped up at the Tigers’ home ground Vansittart Park which forced a venue change for round 1.

Magpies scramble ahead of kick off

Despite some uncertainty hanging around the build-up, the Kalangadoo Magpies are ready to fly into the 2022 LCWFL season.

Even though the current COVID-19 climate has taken a chunk out of the Magpies’ playing list, returning coach Darren Ousey believes he has the talent at his disposal to build from last year’s promise.

After many years of finishing fifth, Kalangadoo finally made the leap into finals with a strong 5-3 win-loss record.

NEEDING A LIFT: Kalangadoo has endured a challenging preseason, but is in a position to tackle the new LCWFL season head on led by captain Taysha James. Pic: Thomas Miles

A mixture of injuries issues and a classy South Gambier side meant the Magpies bowed out in the semis, but the way the team “held itself together” through 2021 has not been lost on Ousey.

Despite having a depleted squad at his disposal, the coach and his players will be ready for round 1.

“We have had a big changeover of players through work and other reasons,” Ousey said.

“So we will have a very inexperienced squad with 12 new players which is a substantial amount and we will be going into the season a bit green.

“But our new captain is Taysha James with her vice being Emmason Illsley, so they will be good leaders around the group.

“Last year’s runner-up best and fairest Jamie Ryan is still playing, so her experience will be invaluable to our side.”

After an interrupted preseason either side of Christmas, Ousey said the biggest goal against reigning premiers South Gambier would be nailing the fundamental basics.

“It has taken a bit of time getting the skills together and we are hunting for a few more players,” he said.

“South is a strong side, so we will have to make ourselves accountable and do the one-percenters to make life a bit tougher for the opposition.”

Kongorong Hawks hunt maiden victory

Kongorong is the youngest member of LCWFL and has experienced the toughest ride so far.

The club has been in the competition for two years and has taken to the field on 17 occasions, but is yet to taste the winning feeling.

The Hawks have taken baby steps so far with a young and developing side which hopes to finally make some progress up the ladder.

SEARCHING FOR SUCCESS: Kongorong hopes the advent of a new Under 16’s team can make the club’s search for an elusive win possible this year.

Coach Michael Dethmore remains in charge and said the team has been busily working on the lessons learnt from the previous two years.

“We have been up and going for a while since early November and been working on our deficiencies which were skills,” he said.

“So we have thrown out as many footballs out as we can to improve out skill levels which appears to have improved, but we will not find out until we are under match day conditions.

“Numbers are good and we had a trail game against North which we took a lot out of.

“We are still a young side learning with the majority of girls also playing in the Under 16 competition.”

Kongorong is one of four sides to enter the new Under 16’s season and Dethmore hopes it can fast track the youngsters development.

“I think it will be great for the club’s development because they can get some confidence before taking the next step to seniors,” he said.

“It has also brought new players and families to the club which is beneficial to everyone.”

Dethmore admitted he would love to score a maiden win, but hinted more character building may be done first.

“We have a couple of tough games first up, so we probably wont see our true colours until later in the year once we gel and rebuild.

“But now being our third year in the competition, I hope we can take some big steps and those wins will hopefully come sooner rather than later.”

Saints march into new football season

Millicent is full of excitement heading into the new women’s season with two of its own marching on to bright futures in the big leagues.

Former players Olivia Fuller and Ella Little are currently showing their skills for Geelong’s AFLW team and Woodville-West Torrens’ SANFL side respectively and the modern-day Saints hope to follow in their footsteps.

A revamped leadership line-up is fronted by captain Lauren Potter and vice captain Kalli Brown, while a new coach has also taken charge.

NEW MARCHING ORDERS: Millicent captain Lauren Potter hopes to help her teammates rise from the bottom of the ladder after losing star play Ella Little. Pic: Thomas Miles

Mark Gronn steps up and will lead a women’s team for the first time across his many decades in the sport which have taken him to the Northern Territory, Victoria and Western Australia.

The team has been training since November and Gronn – who has personal connections to Fuller – is pleased with how the Saints are shaping up.

“We have had strong numbers through the whole preseason and we have managed to retrain a lot of the players from last year which is exciting,” he said.

“I think we have got a few young players who could potentially go further in the future and they remind me a bit of Gary Ablett.

“I think we will do quite well this season.”

Despite league best and fairest Little leading the way, Millicent did not enjoy the smoothest season last year losing its last four games to slump to eighth position on the ladder.

Although Gronn was not in the coaching setup, he kept a close eye on proceedings and has learnt some lessons ahead of the opening round against North Gambier.

“Its more about trying to keep the game flowing,” he said.

“Last year we got bogged down on the wings, so we have been practicing free-flowing football with lots of running.”

Mundulla looks to bounce back to form

Mundulla has one of the most storied histories in Limestone Coast women’s football and the club is hopeful of returning to the glory days.

The club won the premiership flag on debut in memorably sloppy conditions at Blue Lake Sports Park and was in the mix to do the double before COVID-19 finished the 2020 season early.

However, Mundulla dropped slightly off the radar last year, losing to Casterton Sandford in the fifth-place playoff.

READY AND WAITING: Mundulla will be ready to launch into the 2022 season after enduring a long preseason and an opening round bye.

Coach Michael Hunt remains in charge and has liked what he has seen since the team started preseason early four months ago.

“We started preseason at the end of October and the girls are very keen,” he said.

“Like usual there is a turnover of numbers and we have some new players who are coming along well.

“Some girls who only started last year have developed and are looking pretty good too.”

Natalie Twigden and Brooke Ballinger are back at their firing best and are expected to play key roles alongside Kellsie Turner and Lauren Tink.

Mundulla will be forced to wait an extra week before its season opener with a bye this weekend.

Hunt hopes it wont put his team on the back foot with an aim to be a contender.

“I would have liked to play the first round, but that is the way it is because we do not usually start too well,” he said.

“I think we will be similar to last year and hopefully a little bit stronger because we should have a quite reasonable midfield.

“The first goal is we want to be competitive and I would love to think we can finish in the top four, but there are many strong sides.”

Cats prepared to go the extra mile

Casterton Sandford has used its resources to pull players in from all points of western Victoria to form its squad for the new season.

Fresh from a strong 2021 campaign where the Cats stole a top-five place at the last opportunity, the Victorians are primed to keep moving forward with border blues now gone.

Despite the loss of Erin Horsnell, new coach Peter Hutchins is pleased with how the squad is shaping up and has been stunned by their commitment to the cause.

CRAFTY CATS: Casterton Sandford’s young team has worked hard on the training track and must now put its summer’s work to good use.

“Preseason has been really good with extremely strong numbers,” he said.

“We have retained most of the squad from last year aside from Erin Horsnell, who will be a big loss, but we have plenty of kids coming up to have a crack.

“We have a couple from Horsham, Portland, Hamilton and even one from Berri, who was the captain of the town’s club which shows people want to be apart of something special.”

Hutchins may be new in the position, but has previous coaching experience for Sandford Football Club, while his assistant will be his predecessor Mark Widdicombe.

Since arriving at Island Park, Hutchins said he has been most impressed with the team’s willingness to learn and the inclusive culture.

“The difference between my first training and now is extraordinary,” he said.

“There are girls hitting targets they never thought they would have and the team is full of sponges.

“The town is buzzing and we have been training with the men’s team which has been fantastic.”

The Cats will line up against Penola in the season opener and Hutchins said his team is full of excitement.

“We cannot wait and have been talking about it every weekend,” he said.

“It will be great to see how the girls develop and see where the next nine weeks take us.”

Demons locked on back-to-back titles

South Gambier redefined the game and rewrote the record books last year, but a new-look squad has been given the task of hunting down back-to-back flags.

The Demons were untouchable in the 2021 Veolia Limestone Coast Women’s Football League.

They played on another level and dominated every before saluting the season in style with a 34-point win over Kybybolite in the Grand Final.

TEAM TO BEAT: Kendell Saffin’s South Gambier set the bar high last year and is the clear favourite for the 2022 Veolia Limestone Coast Women’s Football League title.

Talent could be seen at every corner of the team sheet, but a vastly different team will take the field this year.

Big names such as former captain Kaylene Nuske, Neave Delaney (SANFLW), Simone and Emma McDonald are among 15 players who have left the club.

Star players Melanie Bateman and Kendell Saffin are sharing the captaincy band Nuske left behind, while the brains behind last year’s success Damien Delaney and Michael Frost have also moved on.

Taking on the coaching duties is Simon Radley, who spent two years coaching Maroochydore in the QAFLW.

Radley admitted he has a challenge ahead, but is buoyed with the progress made on the training track.

“I have some really big shoes to fill and losing 15 premiership players has not made things any easier,” he said.

“Kaylene is the biggest out for us because her on-field leadership was brilliant, but Mel and Kendell have stepped up to the co-captaincy role after knocking back opportunities to play in the SANFLW to stay at South.

“It is a massive turnover, but at the same time I am really excited because we still have a massive bass to build on and the girls are up and about.

“There may be less experience, but what comes is more enthusiasm and there is a great vibe, so I could not be happier with how things are going to be honest.”

The likes of Tess Andrews, Alice Tentye, Maddi Wormald Lauren and Chelsea Frost are still keen to play roles while many other names who were not given much of the limelight in a stacked side last year have the chance to grow.

It has been a busy time at Blue Lake Sports Park since preseason started in mid November with a new senior squad on the training track running alongside a new Under 16’s junior team.

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