It’s clear what could have been for Marcellin in season 2021. The chance to win a premiership without dropping a game all year may never have eventuated for the Eagles, but a 10-0 home and away record and a victory in the first week of finals is nothing short of extraordinary. Few teams got close to knocking off Marcellin this year, and they would have entered the William Buck Women’s Premier Grand Final as red-hot favourites. Coach Luke Boyd had plenty of firepower at his disposal, highlighted by competition leading goal kicker Cecilia Balsassarre (23 goals) and Shaylee Taylor (10 goals). Balsassarre showed why she was the premier forward of the competition in round 3, with 5 goals against Old Xaverians. The best defensive unit in the competition, made up of Nat Gills, Charlotte Grieve, Alana Pane and Anja Marshallsay were near impenetrable, and star onballers Maddie Di Cosmo, Liv Dikranis and Laura Robertson were all big contributors to the Eagles success this year. If Marcellin can maintain their core group of senior players, it’s hard to see their winning ways coming to an end anytime soon.
St Kevins (9-1)
The Saints cemented their position as a William Buck Premier Women’s powerhouse in 2021, with an impressive 9-1 home and away record. The only team who were able to defeat St Kevins this year were Marcellin, for the first time in Round 3, and again in the first week of finals. The Saints were blessed with stars across each line, led by Ellie McLinden in defence, Bree Doyle and Jessica Joyce in the middle, and Sarah Cameron up forward. Undoubtedly the Saints best win of the season came in Round 4 against West Brunswick, where they found themselves 3 points down with seconds remaining on the clock. In what was an apt finish for one of the best contests VAFA Women’s footy has seen, Sarah Cameron took a strong mark in the goal square and slotted a goal on the siren to win the game. It will be exciting to see what this group can produce in 2022.
Caulfield Grammarians (7-3)
The Fields were right at home in William Buck Premier Women’s, securing a top 3 finish following their promotion from Premier B. The engine room for Caulfield were dominant, with Cheree Peters and Iffy Doennellan regularly finding themselves in their team’s best. However, it was star midfielder Irena Malliaras who was a cut above, comfortably taking out the competition’s best and fairest after an outstanding season. Amy Dunn (12 goals) did plenty of damage up forward, whilst down back, Montana White and Margie Purcell were rock solid. After a victory over West Brunswick in the first week of finals, unfortunately, they did not get the chance to play off against St Kevins for a place in the Grand Final but expect Caulfield to be challenging again in 2022.
West Brunswick (5-5)
After winning the battle to secure the last spot in the top 4 late in the season, the Magpies were gallant in defeat against a strong Caulfield outfit in week 1 of the finals. During the regular season, it was duo Kristy De Pellegrini and Laura Holdsworth who shone for West Brunswick. De Pellegrini was named in the best an impressive 7 times, whilst Holdsworth proved a challenge for the competition’s defenders, booting 14 goals. Taking care of those teams below them but struggling against those above them was the story of 2021 for West Brunswick, who will look to use the off season to bridge the gap with the best teams in the competition.
Starting the season 2-0 with comfortable wins over St Mary’s and Old Trinity, it would be another 7 weeks before the Bears tasted victory again in 2021. It was the midfield brigade that starred throughout the year for Kew, with Lily Barr, Chalia Haslam, Tara Donnan and Michaela Harding leading the way. Danielle Calautti was also impressive, booting 9 goals from just 4 games. Whilst player availability contributed to the mid-season form slump, Kew will be optimistic about their future. In what proved to be their finest victory this year, the Bears defeated West Brunswick by 27 points in Round 12, and with that, reminding the other teams they still belong in William Buck Premier Women’s.
Old Xaverians (3-7)
2021 held a bit of everything for Old Xaverians – heavy defeats, narrow losses, and close victories. Despite this, Xavs found themselves in the hunt for finals up until the last couple of rounds, largely thanks to the dominant season put together by ruck Sarah Anderson. Anderson was a model of consistency, named in the best 8 out of 10 games. She was strongly supported by the likes of Audrey Rhodes and Gabby Henderson, who also found themselves amongst the best players on the ground more often than not. Xavs put together arguably their finest performance in what would turn out to be the last game of their season, in Round 12 against Caulfield. Although they would ultimately go down by 3 points, it was a gallant effort for a team that had faced a stretch of heavy defeats.
Old Trinity (2-8)
2021 proved difficult for Old Trinity, only managing 2 victories. However, they were competitive in nearly every game, and won the battle to avoid relegation. Undoubtedly the T’s finest moment came in Round 7, with a Georgia Stewart goal after the siren sending Trinity into a frenzy as they registered their first win of the season after six straight losses. It was familiar faces Lucy Aitken, Sally Peers and Isabella Aikman who each put together stellar seasons, regularly finding themselves in their team’s best. A team with this much star power and proven winning ways are sure to bounce back in 2022.
St Mary’s Salesian (1-9)
It was a tough year for the St Mary’s women. They entered a rebuilding phase, with only 9 of the 24 senior players from 2019 returning, but their resilience was never questioned. With nine straight losses to start the season, including some narrow defeats, it was Round 11 when the breakthrough was made, recording a dominant 29-point win over Old Xaverians. Club leaders Chloe Soderstorm and Nicki Shue became the first females to play 50 games for the club, and it was Alice Angley, Grace Varcoe and Keely James who were the standouts for St Mary’s this year. The Saints welcome Mitch Dupljanin as senior coach, with Simon Brownhill announcing he will step aside. But with the foundations starting to take shape, taking over this group will be an exciting prospect for 2022 and beyond.