2024 WAFLW Player Focus: Lily Paterson (Swan Districts)

SWAN Districts top-ager Lily Paterson has been one of the standout surprise packets of the WAFL Women’s this season, stepping up for the Black Ducks after missing out on State Academy selection. That omission is almost certainly going to change ahead of the AFLW Under 18 Championships, with Paterson averaging an incredible 23.4 disposals in the 2024 League season.

Last season Paterson showed promising signs but was inconsistent, averaging 9.5 disposals and kicking six goals across 15 matches. Already she has upped her game across the board, kicking five majors – albeit with 10 behinds – and has eclipsed the majority of her stats from last season in four less games.

The 18-year-old is no stranger to having big numbers in 2024, with just two games under 20 disposals since her lowest tally in Round 1 (13 disposals), and a couple of 30-plus games. While her 37-disposal effort against West Perth was her best, Paterson’s 36-disposal effort against the Royals on the weekend was perhaps even better and that performance was the subject of our WAFLW Player Focus for Round 13.

Swan Districts-logoSwan DistrictsMidfielder

Lily Paterson

Height: 173cm

Weight: -

DOB: 02-05-2006


2024 WAFL Women’s: Round 13
Swan Districts 17.12 (114) defeated East Perth 16.9 (105)

#14 Lily Patterson (Swan Districts)
Stats: 36 disposals (12 kicks, 24 handballs) @ 63.9% disposal efficiency, 2 marks (1 contested), 13 clearances, 2 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 behind


Paterson started the match on-ball as expected with opponent Alessia Schmiedgen keeping a tight watch on the talented top-ager who had been in a rich vein of form. Despite that, Paterson quickly began racking up the ball, getting a handball cleanly away before being dumped in a tackle.

She would bounce back up and win two more touches via hand while being tackled showing the amount of pressure the Royals wanted to put on her. A minute later she worked her way into space to get a handball receive and deliver a pinpoint pass by foot to Taylah Edwards on the lead.

Touch number five would also come by hand after another tackle on her forced a rushed pass. At the five-minute mark up against Schmiedgen again but this time at half-forward, Paterson would clunk a great contested mark using her height and strength overhead to advantage before hitting up Courtney Zappara on the lead inside 50.

With Schmiedgen rotated out of the middle, Paterson found herself with more space at the centre stoppage and read it off the tap brilliantly to then dish off a quick handball to a teammate. After a break from leather poisoning, Paterson returned to the field later in the quarter, standing next to Emily Boothman.

It would be another rinse and repeat effort where the moment Paterson won the ball she was immediately tackled, but her clean and quick hands allowed her to get the handball away, but it was unfortunately intercepted.

In the final few minutes, Paterson moved into the sweeper role out the back of the stoppage and tracked it on the wing well, then had yet another touch in the last 30 seconds at a forward stoppage. She thought about kicking long but opted to handball yet again to a teammate close by as opponents approached her.


Paterson started the second term in the middle against debutant Darcie O’Neill and laid a strong tackle in the opening 30 seconds of the term. She then won it at the next stoppage but was immediately locked up in a tackle.

It took a little while for Paterson to get involved in the term, laying another strong tackle to dispossess her opponent at the eight minute-mark, winning a free kick at half-back and kicking to a contest on teh wing. A rare mistake shortly after when she miscued the kick which became a scrubber along the ground was not her finest moment, but that would prove to be a rarity.

In the 15th minute, she broke off a Lillian Ninyett tackle and was able to get clear and put it forward brilliantly. A few minutes later at the forward 50 stoppage, Paterson won the ball and then was immediately dumped in the tackle.

She won a free from that tackle for in the back and had a set shot from 35m but shanked in to the far left only just sneaking through for a behind. In the preseason, Paterson noted her set shot goalkicking as an improvement, and as her six behinds against West Perth showed, it is still an area of development for the teenager.


Another quarter, another opponent for Paterson who was this time up against Makayla Pugliese-Thompson. Though not touching it at the initial centre stoppage, Paterson did win it at a secondary stoppage a little while later at half-back, and while she was yet again tackled, she cleared away the handball well.

In the third minute it was much of the same as she read the ball off hands brilliantly only to be locked up immediately by Pugliese-Thompson. Eventually she was the one applying pressure, forcing a body contact spoil on Lucy Greenwood on the wing and scooped it up to kick it inside 50, with that one-on-one victory eventually leading to a Zappara goal.

After another break midway through the quarter, Paterson returned to the centre stoppage in the final five minutes against Pugliese-Thompson again, and would win a kick a couple of minutes later and yet again hit up Edwards who set up the red-hot Zappara. While note rewarded with direct goal assists for her play, Paterson’s score involvements were sky high.


Finishing off the game strong, Paterson had a massive last term similar to her first quarter where she had the ball on a string. She started against Jess Verbrugge in the middle, and won the first centre bounce clearance off the tap to get a handball away, then pushed to half-forward and won it again before being immediately tackled.

In the first 30 seconds, she stood up in a tackle and cleared off a handball inside 50 moments before being dragged down, before using her stoppage craft at the next centre bounce. facing the inexperienced O’Neill, Paterson subtly pushed her opponent into the contest and waited for the ball to come out. She got out the ball and quickly dished off the handball to a teammate just as she was about to be brought down.

She would repeat the same thing in the fifth minute, but this time O’Neill knew what was happening and laid a tackle straight away, albeit high which resulted in a free to Paterson. She thought about playing on but in the end changed her mind after going off her mark and instead rushed a lateral handball to a teammate, but did draw an opponent in the process.

Paterson won a couple more touches under immense pressure, and when she tried for a third time nudging O’Neill into the stoppage, unfortunately the oblong shaped ball decided to bounce the other way and Paterson had to apply the tackle.

At the 12-minute mark, Paterson was back on Verbrugge after helping an opponent with cramp before the centre bounce showing her sportsmanship. The 18-year-old got another handball away, and then eventually a kick in the 15th minute where she read it off the ruck tap to perfection on the defensive side of the wing to kick it into the middle and hit up Sienna Gerardi.

A couple of minutes later, Paterson took a strong intercept mark against Pugliese-Thompson and though she got too close to her on the mark and the kick was smothered, she won it back by hand a moment after and got it away cleanly.

Fittingly, Paterson would finish her massive day out with a clean pickup at half-forward and handballing off to a teammate. The next kick would set up yet another goal to the Black Ducks, with Paterson a star on the day despite being closely monitored by the opposition.


Lily Paterson is a promising talent who outside the AFLW Academy members, would be in the next group of draft prospects. She is a good size at 173cm, can take overhead marks and most importantly is deadly by foot. She uses the ball well and covers the ground effectively, while showing she can play inside or outside.

On the weekend, she was exclusively inside and the opposition did its best to quell her influence. While limiting her kicking does just that, Paterson was able to still extract the ball a ridiculous 13 times from clearances, including seven from centre clearances.

Paterson still has some areas to work on as she does not have the explosive speed of some other mids, though can be a smooth mover out of congestion if given any space. She also has her goalkicking to improve on, with the irony of being a lovely field kick but not being able to convert in front of goal not lost on the top-ager.

No doubt Paterson is garnering interest from AFLW clubs for her performances this season, and her outstanding contested effort against East Perth is just the latest in a string of eye-catching games.

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