MEGT Australia Season Review | Mooroolbark

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By Ryan Long.

2023 saw the rise of Mooroolbark’s Senior Women’s program, winning the Division Four flag, while the Senior Men just miss finals, after a few narrow losses.

 

Senior Men’s

Ladder Position: 8th (7-11, 106.93%)

Leading Goalkicker: Braedon Dobie (28 Goals)

 

Summary:

A changing of the guards for the Mustangs in 2023, coming into the year with a very different side that played off in last year’s Grand Final.

 

Two of the biggest changes to Mooroolbark’s list were Jai Jordan and Aaron Mullet. The two combined for 118 goals last season, both moving on at the end of the year.

 

The club still possessed one of the strongest midfield line-ups in the division, but it was certainly a different-looking forward line structure.

 

A seven-win season still had the Mustangs in the mix to make the finals in what was an extremely tight division. They missed out by a game and a half, despite having an impressive percentage for an eight-placed side, 106.93%, only the top three sides had a better percentage.

 

Unfortunately for the Mustangs, they’ll rue multiple close losses that ultimately cost their finals chances. Mooroolbark lost to Bayswater twice by one point, lost to Beaconsfield twice by less than 12 points, and two close losses against Wantirna South and South Belgrave.

 

Flipping a couple of those results, it’s a whole different outlook on the year. Plenty of positives to take out of the season despite their ultimate ladder position.

 

Key Players:

Leading the charge was the league’s best and fairest winner Austin Smith. Had an incredibly consistent season, in the best 15 times out of 18 games, polled well in losses with dominant performances in the midfield, which included their Mustangs loss at Holm Park Reserve, awarded best on ground honours in the EFNL Match of the Round.

 

Smith averaged 28 disposals, 5 inside 50’s and 8 clearances per game. A well-deserving winner of the Kenneth Wright Medal, polling 21 votes.

 

Partner in Crime Ryley Monkhurst once again had a great year at the club and played a big role in Smith’s season. In the ruck, Monkhurst averaged 28 hit-outs per game as well as an impressive nine clearances each week.

 

Another one of the side’s biggest stars is Kane Noonan, averaging 25 disposals, 4 marks and 5 clearances in 2023. Noonan is certainly one of the other reasons why Mooroolbark’s midfield has been so strong not only this year but in previous seasons.

 

Best Win: Round 17 – Mooroolbark 14.14 98 def. Mitcham 10.13 73 @Walker Park

A couple of big wins in 2023, but tough to go past Round 17, with the Mustangs knocking off the eventual premiers on their home deck.

 

The late season trip to Walker Reserve saw Mooroolbark put together one of their best performances of the year. Controlling the contest in the first quarter with 17 inside 50s to nine, the Mustangs didn’t hurt the Tigers as much as they could on the scoreboard due to their inaccuracy. It allowed Mitcham to hit the front with three goals one in the second quarter.

 

However, a huge third quarter from the visitors saw them pull away with eight goals to two. Mooroolbark ran out 25 point winners, with their midfield on fire. Kane Noonan and Austin Smith finished with 31 touches each, while Jarrod Gilbee has 26 disposals and two goals.

 

Off-Season Focus:

Taking someone like Jai Jordan out of their forward line, as well as Aaron Mullett who could push forward, certainly took away one of the side’s biggest strengths in 2023. They were still capable of putting big scores up but not to the extent of the juggernaut offensive Mustangs side of 2022.

 

Would be an area to look at this year, to match the best sides of the division.

 

They also missed the likes of Cayden Maki for the majority of the season, averaging 23 disposals before a season-ending injury. Others such as Jarrod Gilbee missed the majority of the first half of the year.

 

A fit Mooroolbark side with a couple of additions will be one to look out for next year. In such an even competition, those tight games are crucial eight-pointers, win those next year, never know how far they could go.

 

Senior Women’s

Ladder Position: 1st (10-1, 337.41%)

Leading Goalkicker: Lily Chilver (15 Goals)   

 

Summary:

What a transformation for the Mooroolbark Senior Women’s side in 2023.

 

After joining the competition last year, Mooroolbark dominated their new division this year, winning ten of their eleven Home and Away games.

 

They strengthened their list, shutting down most clubs with a talented defensive line-up, the number one ranked defence in the division.

 

As Minor Premiers, Mooroolbark faced off in a Semi Final against Coldstream, the only side to defeat them in the Home and Away season. A different-looking outfit this time around, the Mustangs held Coldstream goalless for three quarters while Georgia Booth slammed home four of her own to set up a 23-point win and a Grand Final birth.

 

Two weeks later they met Mitcham in the decider out at H.E Parker Reserve.

 

It was a one-sided performance, the Mustangs winning by 50 points, keeping the Tigers goalless for four quarters. What an achievement for the club.

 

Key Players:

Coming into the side in the second half of the year, the Mustangs struck gold with recruit Georgia Booth. She finished with a TOTY spot, listed as Captain of that team, eight goals in six games, dominant in the ruck with a couple of best-on-ground performances. 

 

She was well assisted by some talented players around her including Lily Chilver. She too made the Team of the Year, playing an integral part in their forward line structure, with 15 goals for the season.

 

Emma Beer was another star of the premiership side, in the best seven times from eight games. During that period, she had three best-on-ground performances.

 

Jordyn Doevelaar celebrated a fantastic year at the club, winning Mooroolbark’s best and fairest, frequently in the best each week. 

 

Best Win: Grand Final – Mooroolbark 7.12 54 def. Mitcham 0.4 4 @H.E Parker Reserve

A dominant performance from the Mustangs on Grand Final Day saw them become the 2023 Division Four Premiers.

 

A score line of 7.12 to 0.4 showcased how strong the side was at both ends of the ground. Mitcham fought hard throughout the four quarters, but the back six of the Mustangs held up extremely well, creating a lot of attack off the back half.

 

The goals were well spread out between the Mustangs with five players getting on the scoreboard.

 

Lily Mcdonald was a definite standout, kicking two goals at important stages of the game as well as having plenty of impact around the contest. She went on to win the Blue Ribbon Best on ground medal for her performance on the day.

 

Off-Season Focus: 

The club has been busy re-signing their current list ahead of 2024. 

 

Fair chance that the Mustangs will move up a division and take on some new clubs, which will provide some new challenges ahead.

 

With some of their juniors coming up the grades, they’re well set up for the future.

 

Veterans Women’s

The reigning premiers were back in 2023, competing in the Veteran Women’s competition.

 

The side made finals for a second consecutive year, winning two games to finish fourth. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to get their desired result, losing to a dominant South Belgrave outfit in the Semi-Final.

 

Mooroolbark Juniors

Another solid year for the Mooroolbark Junior Football Club, having over 12 teams in the competition as well as three girls’ sides. 

 

The club had one Grand Final team compete, going up against Kilsyth in the Under 17.5C Grand Final.

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