2023 WAFLW State Scouting notes: Round 1
IN the first edition of our WAFL Women’s State scouting notes for Round 1 of the 2023 season, we highlighted eight players across the four games who stood out as either current or prior members of the 2022/23 WAFLW State Academies, while mentioning others who also showed signs in their respective matches.
#9 Kayla Van Den Heever (West Perth)
In the absence of fellow top-age State representative, Liliana Grassenis, Van Den Heever provided the pressure and strength around the stoppages in the forward half. She spent time playing at half-forward but rolled through the midfield, where her attack on the ball was in typical fierce fashion. She can still throw the ball on the boot a bit too much, but has a point of difference with her sidestep and power in that midfield. She hit the scoreboard in the third term with a sidestep and shot on goal that received a friendly bounce late in the third term for a major.
Bottom-age talent Megan Norbury found her fair share of the ball, but looked a little rusty with her skills that are typically razor sharp. East Perth over-ager Ruby Burgess has a nice leap, and recorded nine hitouts to go with her one kick in the Royals’ loss to the Falcons.
#2 Evie Cowcher (Peel Thunder)
The highly anticipated debut of the double bottom-aged talent lived up to expectations, with the tall defender providing terrific run out of the back half. Possessing a booming kick, Cowcher was not overawed by the occasion, and had a number of impressive defensive plays – including a game-saving mark on the goalline late in the match – to go with her offensive prowess. She provided great speed in the back half for a tall, and was handed the kickout duties on multiple occasions, with skill and smarts far above her experience might suggest.
#10 Carys D’Addario (Swan Districts)
Another 2007-born debutant in the match, D’Addario showed some promising signs winning plenty of the ball between the arcs. She has a booming kick that is damaging when given time and space, and quite often had to dispose of the ball quickly. Under pressure she would rush her kicks, but in finding space, D’Addario showed a smooth-kicking action that was effective more often than not. Along with her kicking, D’Addario provided plenty of attacking prowess and defensive pressure to-boot.
#5 Tyla Fitzgerald (Swan Districts)
The hard-working midfielder battled away at the coalface minus her partner-in-crime Jaime Henry who was returning via Rogers Cup due to an ongoing corked shin. Fitzgerald continually put her body on the line, and would often show her strength with huge fend-offs or crunching tackles. The inside midfielder had to be helped from the ground in the third term after copping a knock, but returned for the final quarter and picked up where she left off with a determined attack on the contest.
Top Peel Thunder prospect Kaitlyn Srhoj unfortunately only lasted about 10 minutes before copping a concerning knock to her collarbone region in a clash. She was stretchered off the field but early reports have the damage as fortunately minor. A trio of 2006-born Thunder players in Jorja Haines, Kate Newson and Dakota Sexton all took to the field, with Haines rolling through the midfield at times when not forward, Newson playing through the ruck, and Sexton stationing herself behind the ball. Forward Holly Britton kicked a goal in the opening term thanks to an assist from older sister Jaide, and looked lively throughout the match.
Swan Districts’ South West talent Indiana West was the other State Academy member in the match, showing a few nice moves including a good mark early in the game, then had a brilliant pickup at half-forward with an eye-catching burst inside 50.
#38 Zippy Fish (East Fremantle)
A standout player all game and the most damaging by far, Fish was incredible with her work off half-back. She broke down opposition zones with her pinpoint passing, providing electrifying speed, and clean hands. Becoming one of the most prolific ball-winners on transition, Fish only made a couple of execution errors, with the majority having a huge impact on the game. She had a flying shot on goal in the opening term pushing forward, but missed it to the right. Overall, Fish was the most impressive WAFLW Academy members across Round 1.
#33 Anjelique Raison (East Fremantle)
The key forward got on the board early with a nice lead out, mark and subsequent set shot goal from 40m just three minutes into the contest. She rotated both through the ruck and deep forawrd, and though not winning a stack of the ball, provided a contest throughout the match, and had a tough task up against a couple of super athletic opponents in Matilda Dyke and Mackenzie Webb.
Claremont’s youth of debutant Juliet Kelly and top-ager Ella Slocombe had their moments in the match, with Kelly providing some dash and composure off half-back, while Slocombe tried to create the same run in transition between the arcs. The East Fremantle pressure made it difficult for her, but she still found 10 disposals, while fellow top-ager Eva O’Donnell got better as the match went on, and Mackenzie Webb showed great closing speed against Raison.
East Fremantle bottom-ager Taya Chambers worked hard in the defensive 50, laying a couple of strong tackles and had some eye-catching moments.
#15 Olivia Crane (Subiaco)
The 2007-born talent is our WAFL Women’s Player Focus for Round 1 following a starring performance on debut for the Lions. Crane was simply outstanding in the defensive half, providing plenty of run and carry, with an eye-catching left boot that cleared the danger time and time again. For the full wrap on her performance, keep an eye out for our Player Focus tomorrow.
#1 Noa McNaughton (South Fremantle)
The small forward returned for her first game since missing the second half of last season due to injury. She kicked one of the easier goals she ever will in the goalsquare, and narrowly fell short of a couple of other chances. Her outstanding kicking was on display with pinpoint passes to set up teammates in better positions, while she just got into perfect positions time and time again to impact contests inside 50. McNaughton shook off the rust and though there is plenty of improvement to come from the bottom-ager, she was very impressive in the draw.
Another Bulldog returning after an injury-interrupted 2022 was bottom-ager Molly O’Hehir who played off a wing and flank, and though she was rusty early, had a couple of nice plays late in the game including a burst and long kick to centre half-forward. Subiaco debutant Olivia Wolmarans started her first game strongly by setting up the opening goal of the match, but would ultimately just miss out on a couple more marking opportunities inside 50s, slipping through her hands.