Geelong’s VFLW side has fallen short against Melbourne Uni in Saturday afternoon’s elimination final at Adcon Stadium, going down 6.7 (43) to 9.2 (56).
Melbourne Uni came out firing in the opening quarter, as North Melbourne AFLW star Jasmine Garner kicked four unanswered goals to make Geelong’s job difficult.
The Cats refused to give up, and two goals to Madisen Maguire early in the second term narrowed Melbourne Uni’s lead. A long-range set shot to Rocky Cranston saw Geelong trail by just eight points at the main break.
Georgia Clarke kicked the opening goal of the third term to narrow Melbourne Uni’s lead to just two points. Geelong continued to apply great pressure around the ball, however accurate kicking saw Melbourne Uni push their lead back out to 20 points at three-quarter time.
The Cats showed their fighting spirit in the final term as Sophie Van De Heuvel kicked a classy goal in the opening two minutes. Geelong continued to work hard and Maguire kicked her third major late in the game, but couldn’t overcome the classy Melbourne Uni outfit.
Geelong VFLW coach Natalie Wood was proud of her side’s effort despite the tough result.
“On the gameday of losing an elimination final you don’t see a lot of the great bits, but we’ll definitely look back on that and really talk about the resilience of the group,” Wood said.
“We were really happy with our contest work at the end of the first quarter and we knew that we needed to tidy up a few things. We moved some matchups around just to try and be a little bit more dynamic with the defenders.
“But Jasmine Garner’s an elite AFLW player and really crafty, and with the wind they just worked it really well.
“You’re never happy to lose an elimination final but we get a lot of pride and satisfaction out of seeing the development that’s occurred.”
Wood said that recovering from a four-goal deficit was always going to be a big challenge.
“The toll that it takes to claw back four goals, we saw that when we missed a couple of opportunities in the third quarter. Those things add up, and then obviously Melbourne Uni had that sniff that they had the game in the bag.”
Lucy McEvoy put on a best on ground performance for the Cats, and Wood was full of praise for the classy teenager.
“Playing her fourth or fifth game with us as an 18-year-old, her composure around the ball, her setups, her body work and execution was just really good,” Wood said.
“She’s a great player but to see her doing that in a final, you’re just super proud of her.”
Ankle injuries suffered by Jordan Ivey and Georgie Rankin sent scares through the Cats camp, but there appears to be no major damage done.
“Georgie’s hobbling around with an ice pack on her ankle, but it shouldn’t be too bad,” Wood said.
“Jordi Ivey’s seemed really serious, but she was able to get back on the ground, so really a credit to her tough and relentless nature.”
Wood said that despite the loss, the number of players used throughout the season shows promise for the future.
“We’ve played 48 players this season, that’s a lot of people that you’re moving through the line-up,” Wood said.
“I know that’s not too dissimilar in other clubs, but I do feel like it’s a pretty high number.
“So to get to the point where we were, and get the unity with their ball movement and the belief in each other, that’s probably the most important thing for us.”
VFL Women’s Elimination Final
Geelong Cats 6.7 (43) def by Melbourne Uni 9.2 (56)
Goals: Maguire 3, Clarke, Cranston, Van De Heuvel
Best: McEvoy, Cranston, Brown, Ivey, Maguire, Darby
Injuries: Ivey (Ankle), Rankin (Ankle)
@ Adcon Stadium, Port Melbourne