By Ryan Long
It was a tough year for the Boronia Hawks with their depth truly tested, finishing the season with a 7-5 record.
The club was never able to hit the same form as recent years. After a premiership in 2018 and a minor premiership finish in 2019, the Hawks were on track to miss the finals for the first time since 2017, sitting fifth on the ladder behind South Belgrave on percentage.
After winning the first three games of the season including a spirited nine-point win over the Saints in round three, the Hawks were caught out in back to back weeks against two clubs flushed with youth in the Jets and the Bears.
They certainly weren’t helped with an injury list that never seemed to relent. Players such as Buzinkas, Burgess and Fairchild all missed several games throughout the year which led to 36 different players being listed in the senior squad this season.
Former Wantirna South star, Taylor Leggate was the big recruit that the club was able to secure over the off-season. Leggate had a shorter preseason due to injury and only managed to play seven games for the year. We saw exactly the influence he can have on a match when up and running, he finished in the best in four of his seven matches including a six-goal second haul against Mulgrave while carrying a niggle.
Boronia will be looking to put the year behind them quickly as they set their sights on contending for a second flag in five years in 2022.
Best Win: Round 12: Boronia 6.12 48 def. The Basin 4.13 37 @Batterham Reserve
The Hawks were under the microscope after coming off three losses in a row including an 83-point drubbing at the hands of South Belgrave. Their gutsy 11-point win over The Basin proved they were still just as strong of a contender as ever.
After having a few defensive issues over the last few matches, the Hawks were able to turn things around led by Jayden Collins at halfback. They kept the Bears goalless in the first term and to just four goals for the entire match, their lowest score of the year.
Taylor Leggate was extremely influential around the contest and even managed to kick two of the Hawks six goals for the afternoon.
Boronia was able to shut the game down in the final quarter to come away with an 11-point win and keep their finals chances alive.
Worst Loss: Round 10: Boronia 4.6 30 Lost to South Belgrave 17.11 113 @Tormore Reserve
Coming off the break, Boronia was looking for a strong response to get their season back on track. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they were well beaten around the ball all afternoon and struggled to defend against the best attacking side in the division.
After being well held by Jarrod Lake the last time these teams met, star forward Tim Smith found plenty of space to lead into on Boronia’s large ground, kicking five majors. The key forward benefited from the amount of ball that was won by his teammates in the middle of the ground, finishing with the best on ground honours. Liam Kidd was also fantastic and one of the main reasons for why Smith had so many opportunities in front of goal.
Standout player: Jayden Collins
The club best and fairest winner, Jayden Collins had a standout year for the club playing off the half-back line. The 2021 Bob Henry medallist finished in the club’s best in an incredible nine out of 12 games. A really strong utility player who can also swing forward and have an impact on the scoreboard when needed.
Collins also polled four votes in the EFNL league best and fairest, including a best on ground performance in the round twelve win over the Basin.
A big focus for the off-season will be looking at their stoppage work. At times this year, the Hawks were beaten up around the stoppages which led to the side being opened up defensively. It’s something that Boronia has been very strong at in previous years and something they’ll want to address and look at improving heading into 2022, especially when playing the likes of Ringwood and South Belgrave.
Along with their stoppages, the Hawks also have to get a bit quicker around the contest and move the ball forward with a bit more pace. They lacked that speed, especially on a big ground like Tormore against young sides such as Heathmont and The Basin. This could partly be due to availability but certainly something to look at over the off-season.
The Hawks have recently signed former Eastern Ranges star and Boronia Junior Mitch Mellis who will return to the club next season as a very handy recruit. He will be very important in the middle of the ground or even further up the ground with his incredible forward pressure, coming back to the club after a year with Premier Division powerhouse Vermont.
Women’s (Division One)
After a fourth-place finish and a finals appearance in 2019, the Hawks returned after the year off, improving in an overall pretty consistent season. Boronia Brown finished in fourth place again, with a record of 6-5.
An impressive number of 34 women played at least one game on the senior side. The depth that the club now has with two women’s teams will help the club go a long way in the future. The club has plenty of talent across all lines, with 20 players this year featured in the best in at least two games.
They do have a bit of work to do if they’re looking to catch up to Ferntree Gully and the Basin who both beat the Hawks quite comfortably over the season.
Boronia Coach Scott Nicholas was recently named as the Senior Women’s Coach of the Year which says a lot about his commitment to the club and the development of women’s football. Nicholas has overseen the development of the women’s football program at the club which now consists of 70 female players.
Best Win: Round 6: Boronia 9.6 60 def. North Ringwood 2.4 16 @Tormore Reserve
The Hawks most comprehensive win was arguably their best of the year considering their position at quarter time. The girls were goalless at quarter-time while the visitors kicked the first two to give North Ringwood a 13-point-lead at the first break.
However, things turned around from there with Boronia defensively shutting down the Saints, keeping them goalless for the rest of the match. Boronia piled on nine goals of their own including four last-quarter goals to take the final margin out to 44 points.
McMahon, Slater, Stubley and Phillips all had two each for the Hawks with Dymond kicking the other. Rebecca McMahon earned herself best on ground honours, being awarded the three votes by the umpires in the league best and fairest.
Worst Loss: Round 7: Berwick 5.3 33 def. Boronia Brown 0.4.4 @Edwin Flack Reserve
Just a week later after their 44-point win over the Saints, Boronia travelled out to Edwin Flack Reserve where the girls weren’t able to back up their good form.
The Hawks had plenty of chances early, kicking three behinds in the first quarter to Berwick’s one goal. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to get their forward line involved too much after that, kicking just one point in the remaining three quarters. Off the back of Berwick’s Courtney De Kroon’s three goals, the Wickers kicked away in the second half to record a 29-point victory.
Meghan and Molly McKernan both fought hard all afternoon and finished in the side’s best with Phillips, Crompton, Faull and Baxter.
Standout player: Megan McKernan
Megan McKernan won the Ellen Johnson medal as the club’s best and fairest winner for 2021. McKernan was consistently dominant all year, finishing in the best six times.
McKernan will be a key factor in Boronia’s premiership chances in the following few seasons alongside others such as Stephanie Phillips and April Glare.
Although the Hawks are one of the better defensive clubs in the division, they have struggled to score themselves at times. The girls averaged just 27 points per game due to some poor low-scoring performances against clubs such as The Basin and Berwick.
They’re clearly going to be another finals contender next season but if they are looking to take that extra leap and contend for a premiership in the next couple of years, they’re going to have to find a way to score more, especially when they’re not dominating the play. The Hawks will be looking for a key forward that can kick multiple goals on a weekly basis. Kathleen McMahon had a strong year and was the club’s highest goal scorer with seven. But they’ll need to keep developing that forward line further to be able to kick a winning score against a side like the Bears who have multiple options inside 50.
With the current culture at the club, the Hawks are well on the right track forward with a bright future ahead.
Boronia Gold Review
A massive success for the club to field a second women’s team this year with record numbers at training and registering to play. Boronia Gold finished seventh in Division Three with a record of 1-8 but it was a great opportunity for the girls to get some match-day experience and a year to develop and work on their skills.
This will be very important for the side going forward into the 2022 season.
Best Win: Round 11: Boronia Gold 3.8 26 def. Coldstream 1.3 9 @Tormore Reserve
A memorable day for the entire club, the Hawks broke the drought and won their first-ever game in front of their home crowd in round 11 against Coldstream.
Emily Cahill and Stacey Ponton opened up the scoring in the first quarter to give Boronia a 13-point lead at three-quarter time. A third-quarter goal from Sarah Coates looked to be a sealer as the Hawks defence remained solid in the last quarter to win their first game of the year by 17 points.
Ali Gottliensbsen finished with the best on ground honours while Kufel, Cartledge, Topia, Cahill and Buzinskas all finished in the side’s best.
Worst Loss: Round 3: Boronia Gold 1.0 6 lost to South Croydon Red 23.20 158 @Tormore Reserve
The Hawks suffered a few big losses, none bigger than their round three match against South Croydon. The margin got out to three-digit figures in the third quarter and could have been a little bigger if South Croydon were able to kick straight.
Simone Stubley was a clear standout in the loss, she kicked their only major for the match – early in the first quarter.
Standout player: Gemma Weeks
Gemma Weeks capped off an impressive year to win the best and fairest award for the Boronia Women’s Development Squad. She finished in the club’s best players four times in seven games, impressing against Fairpark, Chirnside Park, South Croydon and Blackburn.
Weeks even managed to impress enough that she was selected for the senior side, debuting against The Basin where she finished in the best. A player to watch out for next season as she gets more experience in the senior squad.
The biggest focus for Boronia Gold this off-season is to retain the number of players they currently have. The culture of not just the team but the club as a whole, has turned Boronia into a destination club.
Another preseason to work on their skills, their ball movement and defensive structures will all help in the long run.