Geelong AFLW coach Dan Lowther is eager to see the Cats build on the strong foundations set in Season 6 and take their game to a new level when the new season kicks off in August.
The Cats finished last season with just two wins beside their name, but made big improvements on the field, and slashed their average losing margin from 29 points per game in 2021 to just 10.6 points in Season 6.
They were in games for longer, and took the challenge up to the top teams, including a brilliant contest against reigning premier Brisbane in Queensland, where the Cats fell short by just two points.
Pressure and good contested footy became trademarks of the Cats’ new style of play in 2022, and it’s something Lowther is keen to see become the foundations for a bigger and better Season 7.
“I just want to see some momentum from last (season), Season 6 into Season 7,” he said.
“Can we keep developing our game style and playing a game that allows us to get the ball inside 50 and score? That’s what we’re after.
“We think we’ve got a really good line with our players from defence through midfield to forward. It’s now about making sure we get the ball forward and score more.”
The Cats’ attack will look different in Season 7, with a host of forward-half players joining the club over the off-season.
Melbourne pair Shelley Scott and Jackie Parry will add experience to the Cats’ attack after coming across during the Sign & Trade period, while a familiar face in Mia Skinner will get her second chance at AFLW after being selected with the Cats’ first pick in the 2022 NAB AFLW Draft.
Skinner, who was initially on the Cats’ AFLW list across 2020 and 2021, had a breakthrough season in the VFLW, kicking 21 goals for the season and showing how she has developed as a leader as well, named as one of the team’s deputy vice-captains.
Lowther said it was a “no-brainer” to add Skinner back to the list after the season that she had.
“It’s a good story, Mia. Basically for her, it was just about getting some continuity in her football again,” he said.
“She’s obviously come into the AFLW program (initially) with some big wraps about her being a scorer and her mobility. Unfortunately, due to injury, she couldn’t really show that in her first short stint with us in the AFLW program.
“But going back to the VFLW allowed her to then get healthy again, and she had some really good continuity with her football, and she hit the scoreboard.”
Skinner wasn’t the only Cat to benefit from Geelong’s strong VFLW program. AFLW-listed Cats Laura Gardiner and Chloe Scheer had standout seasons, playing seven and eight games respectively in the state league.
Gardiner smashed the record for most disposals in a game with 49 against Port Melbourne in Round 10, and averaged 34 disposals a game, finishing runner-up in the Cats’ VFLW best and fairest.
Scheer enjoyed more midfield minutes as she continued to acclimatise to her new club, and her powerful clearance work was a highlight.
“It was good for both those players to just keep playing. We don’t get a lot of game throughout the season – 10 games doesn’t give our players a lot of time to develop, so to play VFLW was brilliant,” Lowther said.
“Laura was getting 45, 49 touches there at one point. So for her, we need to harness that – her ability to win the football – and make that transferrable into our AFLW program.
“For Chloe again, it was just the chance to keep gelling and connecting with a new team. Coming from Adelaide, the new move, more time with the Geelong Football Club and players.
“We see big things for them moving forward off the back of a really successful VFLW (season).”
The Cats’ Season 7 campaign begins against Richmond at GMHBA Stadium on Sunday, 28 August.