The Cats showed their mettle but will rue missed opportunities after falling 11 points short against the in-form Collingwood Magpies at GMHBA Stadium on Friday night.
For the third week in a row, it was the Cats’ pressure and intensity that stood out, but they took it to another level against Collingwood in the 3.6 (24) to 5.5 (35) loss.
The Cats showed their intent early, with Georgie Prespakis slipping into her now familiar role of clearing the ball out of the centre from the first bounce, but the Cats could only produce two behinds for their efforts after locking the ball up forward.
The Magpies replied through Aishling Sheridan, but the Cats regained the lead after a brilliant play involving Sophie Van De Heuvel.
The Cats’ no.27 went on a run from half-back up the wing, taking three bounces and dodging Magpies players before spotting up Jordi Ivey with a pinpoint perfect pass.
Ivey made no mistake from 35m out on a slight angle, converting for her second goal in the AFLW – her first in the Cats’ Hoops.
The Magpies fought back in the second term, launching attack after attack to put the Cats defence under pressure, eventually breaking two goals clear with consecutive majors to Eliza James and Sophie Alexander.
The Cats got a reply through Kate Darby, who proved third time is the charm to get on the board after taking a mark at the top of the goal square, and went into the main break just one goal down.
With pressure high right throughout the game, both sides could only manage one score apiece in the third quarter – for the Cats, it was a rushed behind after a missed mark under pressure in the goal square, while the Magpies capitalised on their chance with a goal.
Entering the final term trailing by 11 points, neither team showed any sign of giving an inch as the intensity continued relentlessly.
The Cats got within four points after Darcy Moloney converted a set shot originally intended for Nina Morrison, who had to head to the bench with cramp and couldn’t take the kick.
But a 50m penalty saw the Pies restore their lead with Chloe Molloy’s second goal for the night, and they held on to win by 11 as the Cats missed opportunities late in the term to close the gap.
Amy McDonald again led the way for the Cats with 20 disposals, 12 of them contested, a game-high 12 tackles and a team-high 293 metres gained.
Van De Heuvel’s run and carry was a handy asset, with her nine disposals gaining 258 metres, while Maddy McMahon had another solid game in defence, with 15 disposals and 10 intercepts.
Coach Dan Lowther said while the Cats were pleased with the trajectory of improvement they were on, they weren't losing sight of the need to get a win on the board.
"We had a chat with the players after the game about how we are on an exponential growth in the right direction, but we just have to get a win," he said.
"The group are really positive with the direction we're headed in. There's pride - we're proud of each other - but we still know what we're playing for, though.
"They (Collingwood) took their moment when it counted, and we didn't take ours. We had opportunities, which is really pleasing for us, again we're growing in that right direction, but the difference is we don't take our moment as consistently as other teams do."
GEELONG 1.2 2.3 2.4 3.6 (24)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 3.3 4.3 5.5 (35)
Geelong: Ivey, Darby, Moloney
Collingwood: Molloy 2, Sheridan, James, Alexander
Geelong: McMahon, Emonson, A.McDonald, Darby
Collingwood: Alexander, Lambert, Bonnici, O'Dea
Crowd: 2,265 at GMHBA Stadium