If you happen upon Elsternwick Park tomorrow from 2:20pm you will find the VAFA’s Big V Women’s representative side take to the field for just the third time.
Playing host to AFL Goldfields, let’s take a look at what we can expect from our Big V stars as they endeavour to back-up their 2017 victory over the Goldfields.
Despite the young history of the Big V women’s program, this will be the second time the VAFA has come up against AFL Goldfields, the first of which was in the inaugural year of VAFA Wilson Women’s football in 2017. On that occasion, which took place at Mars Stadium in North Ballarat, VAFA Women’s penned the perfect opening line in the Big V history book with a compelling 49-point victory (8.9.57 v 1.2.8) over a talented Goldfields’ side. Though an unmistakably definitive result, the journey to that end-point wasn’t nearly as straightforward. It was a hard-fought opening half by both sides, with the only major scores going to the Big V thanks to a goal apiece from Sarah Cameron and Mietta McDonald. Goalscorers aside, it was the elite Big V backline, led by Spirit of the Big V recipient Riley Christgoergl, which really set up the contest after they kept the Goldfields scoreless for the first two quarters. Flexing in the second half, the Big V put the result beyond doubt with six goals to one. With a string of contributors aiding the Big V women to their first ever win, you simply couldn’t overlook the influence of BOG recipient Irena Malliaras, ruck star Tash Ross-Harris and three goals from Sarah Cameron.
Shaylee Taylor (23), Sarah Cameron (16), Stephanie Lawrence (10)
No stranger to Big V football, Shaylee Taylor (Marcellin) will represent the VAFA for a second consecutive year this weekend on the back of an outstanding start to her 2019 campaign for Marcellin. After taking out the William Buck Premier Women’s goal-kicking award in 2018, Shaylee has begun her 2019 campaign in similar fashion with 23 goals in eight games.
As one of just three women’s players to make the Big V team every year since its inception (2017, 2018, 2019), Sarah Cameron (SKOB Saints) is a big game player and has a proclivity to find the goals at important moments. Sarah snagged three majors in the VAFA’s matches against both AFL Goldfields (2017) and Adelaide Footy League (2018).
Making her Big V debut this weekend, Stephanie Lawrence (St Mary’s Salesian) is set to add some versatility up forward thanks to her agility and ability to pull down strong contested marks. Averaging over a goal a game in William Buck Premier, Stephanie will be a great addition to the flourishing VAFA forward line.
Vanessa Murphy, Teresa Zampaglione, Sasha Long
Making her Big V debut, captain Vanessa Murphy (Old Trinity) will be a force to be reckoned with for the Goldfields once that opening siren blows. A strong-bodied and determined midfielder, equipped with tonnes of speed and fantastic defensive pressure, Vanessa is a clearance specialist under teammate Imogen Barnett and is averaging 20+ disposal per round for 2019.
Teresa “Razor” Zampaglione (Fitzroy-ACU) has been in phenomenal form for the Roy Girls, particularly with her stoppage work. She is coming off an incredible outing against Old Trinity last weekend where she racked up 32 disposals and 12 tackles.
Also part of the illustrious three-woman-group to play in every Big V outing since 2017, Sasha Long (Beaumaris) is a versatile player who’s composure around the ball simply cannot be overstated. Though she’ll be rotating across half-back and in the middle, Sasha’s experience will be a great asset to the Big V side – which features 16 debutants.
Imogen Barnett, Irena Malliaras, Tessa Zagontinos
Averaging an incredible 40 hit outs in each of her outings for Old Trinity in 2019, Imogen Barnett will be critical in the middle for the Big V. Standing as the equal tallest member of the VAFA team, Imogen’s ability to set the ball up for the ever-so-capable on-ball brigade could prove the difference.
Travelling to Mars Stadium in 2017 to aid the Big V to their first ever victory over AFL Goldfields, Irena Malliaras (Caulfield Grammarians) was an outstanding contributor on that occasion – so much so she claimed the Best on Ground Medal. You can never underestimate the value of a player of Irena’s ilk, and backed by her great form for the Fields so far this year, look out for our number 6!
It’s Big V outing number three for Tessa Zagontinos (Marcellin), and as she so eloquently captured about herself, she “loves a snap city”. Look for this crafty forward to deliver some brilliant finishes.