Week by week, our VFL Women’s side finds ways of confounding expectations. A team widely predicted to struggle to compete has notched up two wins and come desperately close on more than one occasion. With their inaugural season coming towards its pointy end, many pundits were concerned that the youngest VFLW side would burn out against more seasoned opponents. However, if their Round 12 performance against second-placed Diamond Creek is any measure these Hawks are fighting it out to the end. Box Hill went goal-for-goal against the Creekers and finished just seven points short of what would have been a fairytale win. Against the odds, Box Hill will come up against another top four side in Melbourne Uni with more than an outside chance of winning.
Here are five talking points ahead of Round 13…
1. Finishing the contest
In what was arguably their best four-quarter performance for the year, Box Hill threw off their second half hoodoo as they slammed on 6.2 after the main break. It’s an effort that coach Patrick Hill is keen for his side to replicate. “It was a really good third quarter; the girls have worked really hard on that. We put in place some strategies after the St Kilda fadeout [in Round 8], just some key words and an ideology behind what they need to do and the third quarter last week when they were really under the pump, we were able to refocus ourselves and kick three goals into the wind under pressure. I think if the game went another five minutes, we could have pinched it. Diamond Creek would have responded as well but we were really in the game.”
2. Adrianna Piva
With teams yet to be finalised ahead of Saturday’s clash, Adrianna Piva has been named on the interchange to become the 37th player to make her debut for Box Hill.
“She’s been fantastic for us this year, had a hard run with injuries,” says Hill. “She’s a great person to have around the club, as they say in American sports a good teammate to have in the clubhouse.”
3. Grace Dillon After spending four matches on the sidelines, Grace Dillon made a successful return to VFLW as a defender against Diamond Creek. Dillon showed no signs of nerves in her solid performance down back.
“No one is the complete package yet and she had some things she needed to work on,” says Hill. “We sent her back to work on them and she took it on board really well. What she’s done well every week is she’s a real competitor, you say in her attack on the ball and how she had three or four spoils last week that were quite instrumental in keeping the ball in the front half.”
4. Players in different positions
Hill used the match against Diamond Creek as an opportunity to try several players out of position, with midfield workhorse Emma Mackie spending time in the forward line and goalsneak Emily Gilder using her pace off the wing.
“We’ll keep experimenting a little bit, it probably won’t be as extreme as last week. What we have now is versatility in our side with people who can play multiple positions. There’ll be a couple of things depending on how Melbourne Uni line up in their forward line whether they go tall or small and how we’ll adapt to that.”
5. A new challenge for the backline
Few VFLW forward lines bear as many teeth as Melbourne Uni. Tall targets Lauren Spark and Kate Shierlaw are backed up by smaller players Deanna Berry and Hannah Ibrahim with the mid-season acquisition of Collingwood marquee Moana Hope a bonus for them. However, Hill says that the strength of his backline will be tested but not overwhelmed by the Mugars.
“The backline over the last four or five weeks, probably since the St Kilda game when we had a few issues structurally, has been fantastic. They’re really developing a tight little unit down there… I think on average we’re conceding 54 points a game but over the last month its probably only been 30 points a game.”
Box Hill play Melbourne Uni in the VFLW Round 13 this Saturday from 2pm at Box Hill City Oval.