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By Ryan Long.

Returning to the Eastern Football Netball League in 2022, Mount Evelyn proved to be one of the competition’s biggest threats for the premier division premiership.


The club finished with nine wins and finished second place on the ladder. Mount Evelyn was the only side that was able to defeat eventual premiers Eastern Devils.


Despite winning eight out of their last ten games, senior coach Steve Varley admits it took some time to get going.


“Initially, we were probably softened by the competition we played last year, we weren’t quite ready so it took us a few weeks to get our feet,” Varley said.


Unfortunately for the club, they came up short in August, losing their two finals to the Eastern Devils and South Croydon. Missing a number of key players at that time of the season hurt the side’s chances after their impressive second-half season form.


“We had that good run, won eight out of our last ten and finished second.”


“But then unfortunately we had a batch of covid, concussions and a few injuries that hit us right before the finals which made life a little more challenging but overall we were happy with the year, good building year.”


Varley says numbers have thinned out slightly this pre-season, which has been a similar case for multiple senior women’s sides ahead of the 2023 season. It forces the hand of Mount Evelyn to play a younger side than in recent seasons.


“I think after covid, people realised they have a lot more time on their hands to do other stuff and football when you’re not being remunerated for it, it doesn’t quite have the appeal it does for the boys.


“Our structure of the team will be quite different to last year so it’s going to be interesting to see how the younger girls stack up.


Mount Evelyn also had a very impressive under-18’s side last season. They lost just one game all year on their way to an Under 18s premiership.


Although they haven’t been able to keep all those players who have come up from the 18s, they have been able to retain a few very talented girls while also recruiting.


“Some younger girls coming through the 18s which are going to be really good, we’ve picked up some young girls from Bayswater who will get a run through the team during the year.


Varley is also excited about some of the side’s players from last season who he thinks can take their games to new levels.


“Bree KolIosche, think she’s really going to step up again this year, she’s going to play even more of a role,


“Paige Adams, and Sherice Oliver, they’re two of the younger girls that played last year as bottom age 18’s, this year they’ll have more of a role through the midfield.


One area of their game that Mount Evelyn is looking to improve on in 2023 is their conversion rate while inside 50.


Although Mount Evelyn finished second on the ladder, they had an average scoring margin of 38 which was lower than all three other premier division finalists.


It’s an area with a great opportunity to improve which Varley believes will make a big difference.


“Our conversion, we got the ball in our forward line a fair bit but tended to be a bit wasteful,


“If we can improve that area, the scoring is generally a bit lower in the girls than the boys so if you can hit the scoreboard a bit more, that’s going to obviously put more pressure on opponents,


“I think last year we let ourselves down a few times with the way we finished off our work, obviously puts a lot of pressure on our midfield if the ball’s coming in and out.”


With what will be a much younger side than in past years, Varley still believes that Mount Evelyn can be around the mark again in 2023.


“We haven’t put a ceiling on it because as you know, with young kids they can surprise you.


“Realistically, anywhere around finals would be a good result this year.”

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