Star midfielder Paige Sheppard has been crowned the 2022 Geelong Cats VFLW Best and Fairest.

The 21-year-old, who finished a close runner-up in the award last year, was the breakaway winner in 2022, amassing 86 votes over the course of an ultra-consistent season.

Laura Gardiner – who set record pace with disposals through the middle of the season – was runner-up with 53 votes, while ruck Rene Caris finished third with 46.

Sheppard’s brilliant year was not lost on the wider football world, with AFLW expansion side Sydney snapping her up as an open-age recruit during the sign and trade period.

One of the premier on-ballers in the league, Sheppard averaged 21 disposals and 6.3 tackles a game in 2022.

With strong determination around a contest, Sheppard’s ability to win the ball and use it well were highlights of her season, and she was just as effective when defending, bringing the pressure as one of the Cats’ leading tacklers.

Fellow midfielder Tamara Smith, who was recruited by AFLW expansion club Hawthorn as an open-age recruit, finished fourth in the Cats’ best and fairest vote count with 32 votes.

AFLW Cat Chloe Scheer polled 30 votes across her eight appearances in the VFLW to finish fifth, while vice-captain Chloe Leonard was sixth with 25 votes.

VFLW captain Bree Beckley and deputy vice-captain Maddie Boyd tied for seventh place with 23 votes, while Isabella Hill’s strong season saw her finish in ninth with 16 votes.

Deputy vice-captain Mia Skinner finished 10th 14 votes, and also took home the Cats’ leading goalkicker award after booting 21 majors across the course of the season.

Cats VFLW Best and Fairest Top 10

1. Paige Sheppard – 86 votes
2. Laura Gardiner – 53 votes
3. Rene Caris – 46 votes
4. Tamara Smith – 32 votes
5. Chloe Scheer – 30 votes
6. Chloe Leonard – 25 votes
=7. Maddie Boyd – 23 votes
=7. Bree Beckley – 23 votes
9. Isabella Hill – 16 votes
10. Mia Skinner – 14 votes