At the conclusion of the 2022 NAB League Girls season, Sandringham’s brightest talents dispersed to continue their footballing journeys.
Some girls were lucky enough to represent Vic Metro (both under 18s and under 16s), several have gone on to play VFLW whilst others have continued to hone their craft in various local leagues.
Dylan Bolch has kept a close eye on women’s footy around the region and pulled together his first ‘Around the Grounds’ report of 2022.
The first edition of the series also features some insights from Sandringham Dragons and Vic Metro assistant coach Lisa ‘Kiwi’ Roper and St Kilda Development and Talent ID Warren Voss.
One of the brightest prospects in the Victorian talent pool this season, Hurley backed up last year’s best and fairest campaign with an equally impressive 2022 season.
The silky midfielder combines offensive playmaking with dogged defensive acts making her a critical two-way player.
Hurley averaged a whopping 25.6 disposals throughout her 2022 NAB League Girls season and had 9.3 tackles per match, which included four matches of 10+ outings.
Furthermore, Hurley showed she can hurt the opposition on the scoreboard, she booted six majors for the Dragons in nine games and her piercing kick (4.2 inside 50s) often set up teammates for shots on goal as well.
Hurley’s form saw her selected in the Vic Metro squad for the National Championships, which then led to her involvement in the AFLW Academy, which brings together the best talent from around the country.
Her ultra-impressive Metro campaign saw her receive an All-Australian selection on the wing for the National Championships.
Played in a talented midfield alongside Montana Ham, Charlotte Baskaran and Jasmine Fleming and held her own. Often beating the line with her Sof Special side-step and getting the ball inside 50 for our forwards to complete the magic. Sofia’s smile around the team, and her unique humour just add to the many memorable parts of what makes Sofia, Sofia. Solid not only on attack but also reliable to nail the tackles and force the turnovers, she performed well abasing some bigger bodied midfielders and gained a well-earnt All Australian selection. One of the smartest football brains I have seen at this age group. Very quick to see an option, and able to twist her body in ways to sneak a ball through a tiny gap and set up a teammate. - Lisa 'Kiwi' Roper
Coyne put together a fantastic NAB League Girls season where she averaged 21.2 disposals, 5.1 tackles and three inside 50s a game.
Perhaps her biggest strength is her ability to ‘create time’.
Her disposal is never rushed and it often looks like she is moving in slow motion, such is her ability to operate in heavy traffic and under pressure.
One of Coyne’s best performances came in the final round of the season, where she amassed 34 touches against Oakleigh and flourished being one of the more experienced players in the midfield.
One of our quieter players with the oldest dance moves. As in, she is a sidestepping machine, always able to find the smallest gaps, and weave her way out of trouble. Not one to say a lot off the field, though carries a smile constantly as she loves what she does, and coaches love what she brings to the line-up. A smooth ball-drop and quick sleight of hand handballs, and Keeley will change a defensive play into attacking very quickly. Small, outside midfielder who can sneak into the forward line and grab a goal or two. Definitely a few teams would do well with a player like Keely. - Lisa 'Kiwi' Roper
Every team needs an intercept marking weapon and Georgia Foran was just that for the Dragons this season.
Blessed with a booming kick, Foran was one of the competition’s best rebounders (average of 8.7 rebound 50s) and regularly denied the opposition a goal on the last line of defence.
In her seven matches for Sandringham, Foran averaged 14.4 possessions and 3.1 marks and was often the sides main distributor coming out of the back half.
One of our quiet achievers, if only you don’t know the singing talent she also possesses. Georgia has plenty of footy to sing about for sure. Solid in our backline, with plenty of intercept marks forcing teams to reshape the way they bought the ball inside their 50. She also had a stint in our forward line giving us an extra option as a marking forward and was solid at that end of the ground as well. Preferring to read books to pass the time waiting for flights, Georgia is always adding to her wealth of knowledge and talent on and off the field. Her versatility, her personality and her ability will all just add to the many aspects of an athlete the recruiters will be looking for. - Lisa 'Kiwi' Roper.
One of the most athletically gifted players in the side, Hipwell has the ability to impact the contest in the midfield and in the forward line.
Hipwell is a real all-rounder with averages of 13.5 disposals, 3.2 marks, five tackles and five inside 50s in her six appearances this season.
Like Hurley, Hipwell was selected in the AFLW Academy and her performance in the one-off exhibition match saw her named amongst the best players.
Unfortunately, her season was affected by a hand injury which forced her into a short stint on the sidelines, but Hipwell’s determination to help those around her succeed shone through, taking on greater off-field leadership roles.
Medium/tall forward, and part of the leadership group for Metro. Bridie is a natural leader on and off the field, and her footy is on a similar level. Great overhead marks and nice kicking action that regularly kicks goals. Her Metro season was cut short due to a fracture in her hand, though she did play one game with that pain and still held marks and contributed to the team’s overall performance. Bridie plays well as an inside midfielder, winning the hard get and being able to send the ball forward, and can easily convert to a target forward finishing off solid team plays. While she didn’t play in Queensland and against SA, she was a solid part of the off-field team giving guidance and support to her peers. - Lisa 'Kiwi' Roper.
Hailing from Western Australia, Staltari has had a long history within state and representative football pathways.
The Sandringham Dragons have a strong connection with the Southern Saints VFLW side and Staltari has been fortunate enough to feature three times for the Saints so far in 2022.
Her impact on the team has been profound for someone who has played just a handful of games, averaging nine disposals and 2.7 marks.
However, despite being a skilful offensive player, Staltari does not shy away from getting her hands dirty at the coalface.
Her tackle and clearance numbers highlight her desire to hunt the ball and work hard defensively as well as offensively.
Ryan has been a part of the Sandringham Dragons program for several years and has since transitioned into VFLW football.
Ryan roams the outside (7.8 disposals) and does her best work when she is allowed to utilise her physical attributes and run and carry to create offensive chains for her side.
Coming from an elite junior basketball background, Ryan’s ability to weave through traffic and remain calm and composed under pressure has seen her become an integral part of the Dragons side and the Saints are now also reaping the rewards of her footballing prowess.
The versatile Stuber is another Dragon to have taken her talents to the Southern Saints.
Stuber’s attack on the contest and willingness to play anywhere on the ground to help her side make her a coach’s dream.
Stuber has amassed 8.3 disposals and two marks per match in the VFLW this season.
Much like Staltari and Ryan, Stuber has had lengthy involvement in state and representative pathways throughout her career.
Her work ethic continues to see her grow in Saints colours and the Dragons trio could feature in finals football this season with the Saints sitting in fourth spot as of writing.
The first Dragon to be drafted to the AFLW in 2022, Barbakos has suited up for Hawthorn’s VFLW side in anticipation of her involvement in the AFLW side later this year.
After booting eight goals in just five games for the Dragons, Barbakos has taken her talents to the big time and her trademark defensive pressure and nous around goal has seen Hawthorn skyrocket into the top 2 of the VFLW.
In four matches in the brown and gold, Barbakos has averaged 7.3 disposals, 2.3 tackles and 0.5 goals per match.
Four Dragons girls were selected to participate in the Vic Metro Under 16s squad – Sienna Farrell, Judie Goldman, Tiger Doultree and Caitlin Voss.
The Metro side faced a dominant country outfit across two fixtures succumbing to 21- and 39-point defeats respectively.
St Kilda Development Coach and Talent ID Warren Voss was on hand for both matches to provide some insights into how our four Dragons girls played.
Game 1: Great conditions at Avalon Oval. Game started, scrappy first quarter, with Country dominating play. They showed ability to win contested ball and use it well to move inside forward 50 multiple times. In the 2nd term, Metro players started to get going, but Country still dominated the inside 50s putting the Metro backs under constant pressure.
After half time, the game became more balanced, but ultimately it was easy to see that size, age, skill, and desire to win the ball was the difference between Country and Metro, with Country running out easy winners.
Game 2: It was cool conditions at Latrobe University. From the outset it was more of an even contest. Country still moving the ball cleaner; however, the intensity was being matched better by Metro.
Country used wind advantage well in Q1, again putting Metro defence under pressure. However, in Q2/3 the game became more balanced, played between the arcs, and with many contests. Metro better in Q4 to finish the match well.
Some good chains of possession as the game progressed from both teams showed the teams were starting to gel better. Metro certainly more competitive – the Country mids were very strong, and continued pressure until the finish. They won by a similar margin, but had to work a bit harder in this match. - Warren Voss
Farrell thrived on a wing in her three games for the Dragons this season.
After some superb Futures performances, the talented athlete got her opportunity in Round 5 and grasped it with both hands.
Farrell booted two goals and averaged eight touches, 2.3 tackles and 1.7 inside 50s with her pace and willingness to take the game on a huge asset for the Dragons.
Game 1: Ran well all day and found space on the outside. Sat outside and waited, then took off a few times, using the ball to drive forward, she has great pace that is hard to stop when she gets going.
Game 2: Took a step forward from the first match. Started on the wing in Q1 and owned it, involved in several plays that pushed the ball forward. She dropped a bit thru mid-game, then came again later in Q4 and repeated the same standout performance as earlier. Took some good marks to add to her game. Once again found space and used better this match. - Warren Voss
Goldman took on a significant leadership role in the Futures this season and her form in that competition saw her rewarded with a Round 8 Dragons debut.
Goldman averaged six possessions and three tackles in her two matches for the Dragons and displayed her versatility superbly when thrown into a variety of unfamiliar positions due to team balance.
Goldman’s versatility and team-first attitude was on show for Metro as well.
Game 1: Tenacity and endeavour are the hallmarks of her game. Always tries hard to create a contest and then applies hard tackling when available. She worked well off half back using the ball to clear the zone. Spent time in the midfield.
Game 2: She was played ‘out of position’ by going forward at the start of the match, which paid off as she persisted in forward pressure that resulted in a chance kick of the round for Metro’s first goal of the match. She then moved to the wing, where she once again displayed her ‘never say die’ traits and competed hard all day. - Warren Voss
Another youngster who was rewarded off the back of strong showings in the Futures, Doultree played four matches across the NAB League Girls season.
Doultree’s ability to read the play was a highlight of her game and she was often involved in desperate defensive acts and offensive chains.
The defender averaged 8.5 disposals and four tackles across her four matches in the pink, white and blue.
Game 1: Read play well from the D50. There were lots of entries coming in and she worked with the other Metro defenders to try and hold the dam wall up. She displayed ability to impact some contests.
Game 2: Another example of her defensive impact on contests. She seemed more at ease in this match and got into some good spots, to effect spoils or a couple of times, take intercept marks. As the match went on, she got more comfortable, aided by less inside 50 entries, enabling a chance to reset and use the ball with better effect on exit. - Warren Voss
Voss made her debut in the club’s final match of the season against Oakleigh and made some strong efforts to compete against bigger opponents.
Voss was thrust into the all-important tall role for Metro and handled herself brilliantly.
Game 1: Played ruck/forward. Worked against an older, taller opponent, she was effective in around the ground stoppages, displaying some nice craft by hitting targets. When going forward, she provided strong leads, and assisted in Metro hitting the scoreboard. Got in good spots when ball in dispute, ready on outside to release to a runner teammate.
Game 2: Competed well in ruck, although again outsized (height,weight) at centre bounce. Ran a nice decoy pattern when forward that allowed another forward to drop and take the mark and convert the goal. She again provided options when the ball was in dispute, finding space to use it well. - Warren Voss
Tayla Jones was the Round 1 Rising Star nominee after a two-goal, best-on-ground performance for the Hampton Rovers in their win over Power House.
Jones was the first women’s player to progress from Auskick to Seniors at Hampton and is a terrific role model for younger girls.
When not playing football herself, Jones is an assistant coach for the Rovers U16 side.
Jones often roamed the wing for the Dragons this year averaging 5.9 disposals and 4.8 tackles over the course of the 2022 season.
Jones’ off-field impact cannot be understated either, she is regularly the life of the changing rooms and loves to have fun around the club.
Ruck Ruby Dale formed a fearsome two-pronged ruck attack with Maddison Torpey throughout the 2022 NAB League Girls season and she has picked up where she left off in the early rounds of her VAFA campaign.
Dale debuted for the Caulfield Grammarians and was named the Round 2 Rising Star after a superb three goal outing.
Dale’s aerial prowess and ability to become another marking option inside 50 were key elements of her game at the Dragons this season.
Dale played ten matches for Sandringham this year averaging 6.5 disposals, three tackles and 11.2 hitouts per match.
One of the Dragons most reliable defenders in 2022, Webster has impacted at both ends of the ground for Mordialloc-Braeside in the SMJFL.
Her unrelenting attack on the contest made her an esteemed member of Sandringham’s defensive set up, where she averaged 9.7 possessions and 4.2 tackles in her nine outings.
Webster has kicked a goal in every match she has played for the Mustangs in 2022.
Sandringham’s leading goal-kicker (13 goals) of the 2022 NAB League Girls season picked up where she left off as she returned to the SMJFL.
The sharpshooter leads all comers with eleven majors in just three matches to start the season, which includes bags of five and four goals against Prahran.
The powerful forward was a presence throughout the season for the Dragons, presenting well down the line and acting as the spearhead of a potent Dragons forward set up.
She also had her fair share of the ball, going at just under 14 touches per match.
Sullivan plied her trade in the Futures competition throughout the NAB League season before her debut in Round 11 against Oakleigh.
Her efforts back in the SMJFL to start the season is nothing to sneeze at.
The Mordi-Brae product booted five goals against Beaumaris and four goals against Prahan to start the season in fine fashion.
Another Mustang to start 2022 in red-hot form, Torpey has booted three goals already this season in the SMJFL.
Torpey often gave the Dragons girls first use through her tap work in the NAB League, averaging 16.7 hit outs and 8.4 disposals a game.
She was known for her tireless efforts around the ground and being able to compete at as many ruck battles as possible throughout games.