Eastland 2023 Season Review | Wantirna South

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A tale of two halves of the season for the Senior Men, missing this year’s finals series. Meanwhile the club celebrated the success of the inaugural Senior Women’s side.

 

Senior Men’s

Ladder Position: 7th (8-10, 92.04%)

Leading Goalkicker: Kye Barlow (27 Goals)

 

Summary:

A season of two halves saw the Devils turn from a potential premiership threat to missing the finals completely with seven losses from eight games.

 

The club brought in Brett Moyle as the club’s new senior coach for the 2023 season, inevitably parting ways at the end of the campaign.

 

With a strong list that welcomed back former Devils star Taylor Leggate, and brought in other recruits such as Balwyn’s Lachlan Bain and small forward Ricky Fandrich, the club looked set to build off their finals series last year.

 

Wantirna South won six of their first nine games, with two of their losses coming against the Grand Finalists by close margins.

 

The season slipped away after that with eight consecutive losses.

 

They managed to stay mathematically in contention after a Round 16 win over Lilydale. But a disappointing 85-point loss at home at the hands of Bayswater all but ruled Wantirna South out of finals calculations.

 

For a side that had great internal and external expectations at the start of the year, it was a disappoting way to end the year.

 

Key Players:

Last year’s Kenneth Wright Medallist Lincoln Wong continued right from when he left off in 2022. At the mid-way point of the season, he led the league’s best and fairest vote count with 12 votes. The star midfielder battled through injury, still averaging 22 disposals, 8 clearances and 5 tackles per game.

 

Big man Jake Denes had a fantastic year at the club, averaging 26.5 hitouts per game. He was in the club’s best frequently, averaging five clearances per game as well as 3.5 Inside 50s.

 

Kye Barlow, Liam Hewett and Marcus Jordan were all important across the season, combining for 80 of the side’s goals this year, missing only a couple of games between them.

 

Best Win: Round 5 – Wantirna South 10.66 def. Montrose 7.11 53 @Walker Reserve

Not the prettiest game of football, particularly considering the conditions on the day, but the Devils knocked off one of their strongest rivals in a statement win.

 

After a low-scoring first term, the Devils went on to kick five unanswered goals in the second quarter, keeping Montrose scoreless. Jake Denes and Nick Beams took advantage of Montrose’s ruckman going down early, to dominate the hit-out count, Denes finishing with 47 hitouts.

 

There was a late fightback in the final term from the Dees, but goals from Barlow and Beames sealed the deal, ending Montrose’s final charge.

 

Lincoln Wong was best on the ground for the Devils, a 30-disposal game, also having 12 clearances and 11 tackles. In tough wet weather conditions, Wong’s class around the footy was a clear standout.

 

Off-Season Focus:

Still a lot to like about this list. Their Reserves team which does consist of a lot of young players, went back-to-back this year, defeating Mitcham in a second-straight Grand Final. In terms of their senior squad, it’s not incredibly different from the side that faced off in the 2022 Finals Series.

 

The club have welcomed home Jason Heffernan, a former captain of the Devils, to take over as senior coach for the 2024 season. Heffernan was a premiership captain with the Devils back in 2022 and has since gone into coaching, having over six years of experience at the VFL level and the SFNL.

 

One key inclusion already announced is the reigning Premier Under 19.5’s best and fairest winner Sam Pascuzzi. Crossing over from Noble Park, Pascuzzi is sure to add a bit of pace to the side’s midfield group.

 

Senior Women’s

Ladder Position: 7th (1-10, 53.38%)

Leading Goalkicker: Keeley Bristowe (11 Goals)

Summary:

One of the great highlights for the club in 2023 was the introduction of Wantirna South’s inaugural senior women’s side.

 

Despite having a 1-10 record in 2023, the Devils were a much better side than what their record suggests. They had a far superior percentage over the two sides around them.

 

Before their first win of the season, they had several close calls. Seven of their first nine games were losses by less than 20 points, four of those decided by one goal or less.

 

Their first win of the season finally came in Round Ten when Wantirna South held on for a memorable two-point win over Boronia.

 

A lot of positives to take out of the season, a great achievement for the club.

 

Key Players:

Keeley Bristowe had a couple of massive performances across the year, their leading goal kicker with 11 majors. Bristowe starred in the Devils’ one win of the season, four goals against the Hawks. She also managed to boot three in a high-scoring shootout with the Lions.

 

The leaders on the side were fantastic, Emma Whitelaw and Amber Vozzo starred for the Devils, leading from the front. Their attack on the footy and their pressure on the contest is one of their biggest strengths.

 

Caitlin Sharp crossed over to the Devils, having a fantastic season down back, improving as the year progressed.

 

Best Win: Round Ten – Wantirna South 6.4 40 def. Boronia Gold 5.8 38 @Templeton Reserve

The club’s first-ever win senior women’s win came in Round Ten on their home deck against the Hawks. It was a win that had been in the making for quite a while, after several near misses.

 

The Devils trailed for most of the day, having to come from behind to pinch victory. A couple of magnets were moved around which worked to the Devil’s advantage. Macfarlane moved up forward, hitting the scoreboard, while Caitlyn Grima was thrown into the ruck.

 

Wantirna South kicked four goals in the final term, holding on for a famous two-point victory.

 

Off-Season Focus:

The first senior women’s team at the club has set Wantirna South up for the future, creating that pathway for the Junior Girls at the club. If they consolidate their numbers at the senior level while adding to that with their Under 18 Girls side, they’ll improve very quickly.

 

Michael Vozzo has been re-appointed asCoach of the Senior Women’s Team for season 2024, having a wealth of coaching experience behind him.

 

 

Wantirna South Juniors

The Wantirna South Junior Football Club continued to develop in 2023, having an impressive 20 sides compete, six of those girls’ teams.

The girls’ program has been particularly successful, having three sides make Grand Finals, in the Under 12’s, 14’s and 16’s. The Under 14B Girls defeated Mitcham by three goals in the decider.

Scout Semple went on to win the league best and for the Under 16A Girls division, a great season, also competing in the 2023 Interleague series.

The Under 17.5 Boys also went on to make a Grand Final, going down to Blackburn by 42 points.

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