A tough U18s start for NSW/ACT Youth Girls

It was a disappointing start to the NAB AFL Women’s U18 Championships for the NSW/ACT Youth Girls side, going down in both of their opening matches in Blacktown.

Round One started with a thriller against Queensland as wet conditions hampered what had the potential to be a fast paced game.

Queensland had all the run early, creating a 10-point deficit for the NSW/ACT Rams at half-time.

During the break, Head Coach, Tim Schmidt sparked the NSW/ACT team into action and they bolted out of the blocks. Snapping two consecutive goals thanks to Zoe Allen and Brea Quinlivan, scores were level with five minutes to play in the third.

Seven points down at the final break, NSW/ACT were able to get within one-point after some more Quinlivan brilliance in front of goal.

Despite the potential for inaccuracy to cost the visitors, they were still able to outlast NSW/ACT by three points at the final siren.

The second match of the weekend came on Saturday against Western Australia in much different conditions to the night before, though two matches in 20 hours proved to take their toll on the NSW/ACT team.

After an arduous match on Friday night, NSW/ACT lost their legs against a relentless and fresh Western Australian outfit, going down by 87-points.

While Schmidt admitted his team were tired, he still saw positives in the way they handled a tough result.

“Playing two high quality games within 20 hours took its toll on our bodies – it was hard to back up,” said Schmidt.

“But I thought our girls competed very hard in both games. We definitely have some areas to improve on, but there were plenty of positives to build from as well.

“Continuing to work on the basics will be key – being clean, holding the marks, hitting targets – but I thought our structures worked well over the two games.”

The matches against Western Australia and Queensland were the first-time NSW/ACT had competed against ‘Division One’ states – a task sighted as ‘challenging’ by Schmidt.

Up for this challenge however, were NSW/ACT dependables, Alyce Parker, Haneen Zreika, and Jordyn Jolliffe, who Schmidt named as the top contributors for the round.

The squad was also hampered by the injuries of two consistent performers in Leppington’s Margot Vella (left ankle) and Western Sydney’s Angela Priftis (slight MCL).

For the next six weeks, the team will go back to their respective Academies and local clubs in preparation for Round 2 of the Championships, which will take place on the Gold Coast in July.

You can watch replays of the two matches on the AFL Women’s YouTube page.