The South East Zone women’s squad will have the fire burning inside of them at the 2022 State Women’s Country Championships in Whyalla this weekend.
After only collecting one win across the first two years of the competition, the side made giant strides last year where it fell heartbreakingly short of glory.
South East reached the decider with a strong performance on the opening day and fought hard against a tall Northern Zone outfit.
Only three points was the difference at the final siren, but the Limestone Coast team felt hard done by after a close call when having a shot at goal.
Returning coach Michael Hunt said this incident meant his team was full of determination to make up for the disappointment of last year.
“There is no lack of competitiveness in the team,” he said.
“We rebounded well off the half-back line last year and were unlucky in the final to have one drift behind the post that would have won the game at the end.
“We thought we could probably improve on our entry through the half-forward line.
“The girls really want to do well and if they do or don’t, it will not be through a lack of trying.”
A 24-player squad full of top talent from the Limestone Coast Women’s Football League will take on the trip.
Casterton Sandford’s leader Scarlett Jarrad will take on the captaincy role, while South Gambier’s Tess Andrews and Kybybolite’s Annabel Mould will form critical roles as vice captains.
There are many new and returning faces in the team where eight of the nine local clubs enjoy representation including the league best and fairest Caroline McGrath of Penola.
One area the South East team needs to cover is the void left behind by Ella Little, who carved up the competition last year at centre half forward as the stand-out player of the championship.
But Hunt revealed the squad will not be quite at full strength after some late injury concerns.
“The team has come along pretty well, but have had to deal with a lot of injuries,” he said.
“We have lost Georgia Gill who has a hip injury, Emmason Ilsley is carrying ankle concern, Chloe Perryman has a sore back, Kate Wright also has a sore ankle and there are a few others as well.”
Hunt believed some of the injuries were down to the hardest aspect of the helter-skelter championships, which is matching the intensity required to perform with players in the heart of the offseason.
“The hardest bit is getting the intensity,” Hunt said, who will be backed up by assistant Fiona Young.
“Last year we hit the ground running with a trail game, but have not been able to have one because of scheduling, but we have been doing a bit of competitive stuff.
“The trickiest bit is coming up against sides who are in the middle of their current seasons.
“If you have a bad five minutes, that is your carnival gone, so it is important to keep the intensity up and the halves are increased from 17 minutes to 20.
“The harder you work, the luckier you get.”