The GSFLW Team of the Year - 2021
With one weekend of footy left, now is the time to celebrate and reflect on what was season 2021.
The 2021 Great Southern Football League Open Women's season was one of the better instalments that we have had since the competition's inception. There were upsets, close calls, and a heated race for the finals.
We saw Victor Harbor break their winless drought, we saw Goolwa make their debut finals' appearance, and we saw some truly impressive individual performances. The GSFLW continues to be one of the better women's leagues in the state, and their Association Match performance showed that.
THE SEASON REVIEW
In total, six sides were in finals contention, with three left to battle it out during the closing stages of the season. In the end, it was Yankalilla and Strathalbyn who missed out, with Goolwa gaining their debut finals' appearance.
At the other end of the table, Victor Harbor was able to turn the tables on their cross-town rival, although both sides, unfortunately, struggled with numbers.
#1 Willunga (12 wins, 2 losses)
After a Grand Final that they would rather forget, the Demons showed their strength by putting their best foot forward and making the most of the new season. It was the usual culprits in the red and white that were the standouts, with Katrice Turner and Kristen Rothwell leading a star-studded team who had the likes of Ella and Caitlin Radbone.
But they also found two new superstar prospects in the form of Shae Archbold and Jessica Harris.
#2 Mt Compass (12 wins, 2 losses)
Mt Compass sat undefeated and top for the majority of the season, only to stumble late in the year, which then saw Willunga climb to the top spot and they would on to be crowned as this year's minor premiers. It got worse for the Bulldogs, as they then narrowly lost to McLaren for a spot in the big dance--making it a straight-set exit.
They had the likes of Demi Sharp and Amy Taylor, and even Elke Jarvis who had a major impact on the side after her late yet dramatic entrance into the 2021 season. The Bulldogs have been knocking on the door for the past few seasons, so it is only a matter of time till someone answeres.
#3 McLaren (11 wins, 3 losses)
The reigning premiers McLaren took some time to get things going but, with the likes of Sheena Peters, Sophia Flanagan-Sjoberg, Ally Bailey, Layla Rogers and Caitlin Ross, they always looked destined to do some damage come finals time--and so far, they have done exactly that.
The Rogers-Ross duo, our favourite duo, was well complemented by the sister-act of Sophia and Ruby Flanagan-Sjoberg. Along with this, Tahlita Buethke made a mark once she returned from SANFLW duties. To think that they could have been even stronger, but they sadly lost premiership forward Kelli Nijhuis to a shoulder injury before the season had even begun.
#4 Goolwa (7 wins, 7 losses)
As the big improvers of the season, Goolwa should be proud of their 2021 campaign which ended with their first-ever finals appearance. Asha Bell and Rachel Searle were standouts all year, and they only got stronger when Renee Moon and Jaimi Griffen returned from SANFLW duties.
The Magpies are a good chance to go further next season because their under-17s side, which has made this year's Grand Final, is home to several exciting prospects.
#5 Yankalilla (6 wins, 8 losses)
Yankalilla looked full of promise at the beginning of the season but ended up falling just short of making the finals. Colbie Frankland proved to be a key recruit for the Tigers, although they would, unfortunately, lose her to a knee injury during the later stages of the season.
The Tiger cub duo of Jemma Ellis and Leah Bailey once again proved to be valuable for the side, as did the veteran Helen Maidment, while Nari Wright and Jasmine Smith enjoyed breakout seasons.
#6 Strathalbyn (6 wins, 8 losses)
The once-great side of the Roosters, who were accustomed to winning flags, have been finding themselves in uncharted territory as of late. The red and white had no shortage of talent, with Emmy Johnson, Tessa Grant, and Courtney Mesecke, yet they struggled to find some momentum. When they finally did get on a roll they were tough to beat--but ultimately, it was too little too late.
#7 Victor Harbor (2 wins, 12 losses)
Round Five was an important milestone for the Kangaroos as it marked the round that Victor Harbor broke their 672-day winless streak with a 14 point win over cross-town rival Encounter Bay.
The Roos, much like the Bays, had some strong talent but purely lacked the numbers. The blue and white are home to Skye Sumner, Daisy Blencowe, and the exciting young trio of Jaimee Millard, Maya Overall, and Alissa Brook--if they can just gain some more numbers, then they might quickly become very competitive.
#8 Encounter Bay (0 wins, 14 losses)
Encounter Bay struggled to find much form this season, with the Eagles suffering through a winless season. They did have some strong talent, Sherrie Hurrell and Kate Sanders were some familiar names in the Team of the Week, as was Tess Huxtable when she was not busy with SANFLW commitments--but in the end, it was the lack of numbers that really hurt the Eagles.
THE 2021 MWM GSFLW TEAM OF THE YEAR
To be eligible for 2021 MWM GSFLW Team of the Year, the player must have been eligible for the Association Match (played 4 or fewer SANFLW Games) or played in this year's U17s Association Side.
This means that several standout players were not able to be included such as Sophia Flanagan-Sjoberg (South Adelaide - McLaren), Lauren Clifton (South Adelaide - Willunga), Elyse Haylock (South Adelaide - Strathalbyn), and Charlotte Dolan (WWTFC - Yankalilla).
Mt Compass may have fallen agonisingly short from a Grand Final appearance, but they were certainly well represented in the medal count, with Demi Sharp being crowned as the 2021 GSFLW Open Women's Best and Fairest, more on the medal count can be found here here.
Demi Sharp did not let her 2021 accolades top there either, as the tough Mt Compass midfielder earned the captaincy of our 2021 GSFLW Team of the Year, following in the footsteps of the 2020 captain, Renee Moon.
The Vice-Captaincy this year was open to our supporters to vote on, and it was Willunga's Katrice Turner who came home with the most votes, narrowly out pipping Goolwa's Rachel Searle.
Every side has been represented in the Team of the Year by at least one member. Yet it is the minor premiers and the reigning premiers who both hold the most with 5 spots in the team.
Following closely behind them is Yankalilla with 4 named players, and with 3 spots it is Mt Compass and Goolwa.
THE SQUAD BREAKDOWN
The starting six up forward enjoyed a stellar 2021 season. At full forward is the 2021 GSFLW Open Women's Leading Goalkicker, Sheena Peters, who celebrated her debut season with the Eagles by kicking an impressive total of 34 goals.
The forward pockets are home to two very exciting prospects, with Mt Compass's Brooke Boileau, who is more akin to playing in the middle, joining the side after being a regular appearance in our Team of the Week series.
The other pocket is home to the GSFLW Under-17 Girls Best and Fairest, Shae Archbold, whose debut season with Willunga equated for 48 goals in total--25 for the Open Women's side and 23 for the Under-17 Girls side. Shae was also a valuable performer in the GSFL Under-17 Girls Association side which saw her earn a spot in the Southern Districts.
At centre-half-forward is the Goolwa forward, Megan Hoad, whose performance with the Magpies saw her finish thirteenth in the GSFLW Open Women's medal count with 13 votes.
The flank is home to Willunga's Kristen Rothwell, who enjoyed a standout season in the white and red--perhaps typified by her placing in the Best and Fairest. Kristen finished fourth in the medal tally, with 15 votes.
The other flank is home to McLaren's Ally Bailey, whose 2021 season equal tenth in the GSFLW medal count. With some slick skills, Ally was impressive during this year's Association Game.
The ruck of the 2021 GSFLW Team of the Year is Goolwa's Rachel Searle. Rachel was the Best on Ground during the Association Match, a feat that of course saw her represent the Southern Districts during the Country Championships.
The hard-running McLaren on-baller, Caitlin Ross, joins the followers of our Team of the Year after enjoying an impressive first year in the competition. Ross was also extremely impressive during the Association Match.
Our Captain and the 2021 GSFLW Open Women's Best and Fairest, Demi Sharp, rounds out the on-ball brigade after having her best season of footy to date. The tough and extremely dedicated player had all her work pay off when she earned an outstanding total of 23 votes to claim this year's Best and Fairest.
From the Captain to the Vice-Captain, the middle is home to Willunga leader, Katrice Turner, after she enjoyed another consistently strong season with her beloved Demons. Finishing twelve in the medal count, the inside midfielder was a regular in Willunga's Best Players and our Team of the Week.
One wing is home to Goolwa's Asha Bell, whose 2021 season was certainly a breakout one. A regular in our Team of the Week series, Asha had her clean skills and quick pace on full display during this year's Association Game.
The other wing is Layla Rogers, whose efforts during the season saw her finish sixth in the medal count. Layla has a quick pace, strong tackles, and a great goal sense which was on show during the Association Game where she booted a game-high four goals.
Headling the back six is arguably one of the competition's best rebound defenders in the form of Caitlin Radbone. Caitlin is fast and has a great footy IQ, and is perhaps one of the more underrated players in the competition.
The Vice-Captain of the Association Side, Leah Bailey, makes an appearance behind the ball in our Team of the Year. The versatile Yankalilla product is physically strong yet she also holds a great pace.
The opposite flank is home to the 2021 runner-up GSFLW Best and Fairest, Amy Taylor, who holds many great qualities--which explains why she finished runner-up. With speed, strength and skills, the usual on-baller finished the medal count with 19 votes.
Full back is home to a member of the 2020 Team of the Year, Tegan Cross, who was a regular performer for Yankalilla. The talented Tiger was also a member of the victorious 2021 Association Side.
Starthabyn's Courtney Mesecke joins the Team of the Year back six after enjoying a stellar season that saw her become a regular in our Team of the Week series. The defender was in the Association Side, yet we feel this breakout player is still severely underrated.
The final spot in the starting backline belongs to the exciting Victor Harbor prospect, Jaimee Millard, who finished third in the U17s Medal Count. A member of the Under-17 Girls Association Side, this young gun has the willingness to learn--which has seen her play several positions between SANFLW and GSFLW footy.
The second ruck for our Team of the Year is another exciting prospect in the form of Jemma Ellis. The runner-up to the Under-17 Girls Best and Fairest with 25 votes, Jemma has a great pace and a great verticle--which draws comparisons to Brisbane recruit, Indy Tahau.
McLaren's Katrina Munzberg adds some X-factor to the rotations of our Team of the Year. This Eagle was impressive during the Association Match--but as a genuine role player, Katrina often gets overlooked.
As for as versatility goes there is usually one player that always comes to mind, Ella Radbone. This young Demon can play forward, back or even ruck, with the young gun's pace and strength being two of her greatest qualities.
Rounding out the rotations is the speedy Strathalbyn prospect who was also the Vice-Captain of our 2020 Team of the Year, Emmy Johnson. Emmy continued to have her signature impact on the Roosters during the 2021 season, which equated to the young gun finishing tenth in this year's medal count.
The first of the emergencies is Yankaliila midfielder, Nari Wright, whose breakout performance for the Tigers was impressive, to say the least. Finishing equal seventh in the Open Women's medal count, Nari still seems criminally underrated--but another season like this will soon change that.
Two great role players from the cross-tow rivals round out the MWM GSFLW 2021 Team of the Year, with Kate Sanders from Encounter Bay joining the well-known Skye Sumner from Victor Harbor
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Minutes with Moose would like to thank all of our ambassadors.
Special Thanks to all those who nominated players for the Team of the Year.