By Josh Ward
Whitehorse showed plenty of promise in 2019, but 2021 was a lot rougher down at Springfield Park as they had to fight to stay in Division Three.
Finished the season with a 3-9 record and in eighth place, but they lost seven of their first eight before showing a bit of promise at the end of 2021.
Two players made the team of the year and four made the squad, they’ve announced a couple of big signings/re-signings so far and will hope to be more competitive in 2022.
Best Win: R16 vs Scoresby (Whitehorse Pioneers 13.10.88 defeated Scoresby 10.10.70)
Heading into the game coming off their biggest loss of 2021 vs Waverley Blues, Whitehorse came from behind and picked up their third win of 2021 and first against a side other than Fairpark in Scoresby.
After being down by 35 points at quarter time, they cut the margin to 22 at half time, before kicking 50 points to 18 in the third term, the second time they’d done that vs Scoresby in 2021, hanging on in the final quarter despite kicking 1.4 in the last.
Ex-Balwyn and Doncaster East forward Thomas Davis continued his good run of form with three goals, being named in the best alongside Andrew Padbury (two goals), Dominic Violi (one), Rob Macdougall, Joel Dalgleish and Daniel Mendes (two).
Davis got the three B&F votes whilst defender Joel Dalgleish got two votes, with Scoresby’s Jarrod Hicks picking up one vote as the Pioneers ended their rough 2021 season on a high note.
Worst Loss: R10 vs East Burwood (Whitehorse Pioneers 8.9.57 defeated by East Burwood 16.9.105)
They’d come close against the Rams in their round one clash and both were heading into this game in not so good form. But it was East Burwood who got back on track, thumping Whitehorse by eight straight kicks.
In the first restart of the EFNL, the Rams kept increasing their advantage across the first three quarters. Despite the Pioneers having a strong final quarter it was too late as they slumped to a sixth consecutive defeat by a then season-large margin.
Dom Violi, Mitch Ward and Thomas Davis each kicked two goals, with Violi, Damian Bertacco, Michael McDougall, Tim Law, Maverick Gleed and Lachlan O’Brien all named in Whitehorse’s best.
Standout Player: Joel Dalgleish
Dalgleish was a star again down back at Springfield Park.
He missed games early on due to injury, however he still got eight best and fairest votes, with one three vote game against Fairpark and finished equal fourth in the Division Three B&F.
He was named in the back pocket in the team of the year and will be a crucial cog down back yet again if the Pioneers are to climb up the table or survive in Division Three.
Whitehorse have already announced the re-signing of a few of their players and have announced two new signings in ex-Hawthorn AFC player Ben Borg and former Blackburn midfielder Jake Harkins.
That’s what they need for next season, depth and competitiveness for spots. They relied too heavily on their stars, which cost them during the season.
The side has tonnes of talent, especially with the likes of Joel Dalgleish, Andrew Padbury, Thomas Davis, etc. But if they want to be competitive or survive in Division Three a little while longer, they’re gonna have to acquire more depth.
After a terrific first season in 2019, the Suns initially had their struggles, but after dropping down to Division One showed how good they were, when placed at their level.
They got thumped in their four Premier Division games but finished in third place in Division One with a 4-3 record, with two players making the team of the year and three making the squad.
Best Win: R5 vs Berwick (Whitehorse Suns 7.6.48 defeated Berwick 6.1.37)
Up against a Berwick side that was 3-1 and in its first game in Division One, Whitehorse got off to the perfect start in their new division with an 11-point victory.
Under the lights of Springfield Park following the senior men’s 63-point loss to Donvale, they had a strong second quarter (19-1 score line) and managed to hold on as they picked up their first win of 2021.
Briana Holland, Bronte Bilston-Gourley, Susan Fearn-Wannan (one goal), Riley Khan, Sarah Hayes and Kiarna Hay were named in the best, with star Isabella Gietzmann excelling up forward with five goals.
Gietzmann picked up the three best and fairest votes on the day, with Hay picking up two and Holland one as the Suns inflicted the Wickers second loss of 2021.
Worst Loss: R6 at Ferntree Gully (Whitehorse Suns 2.3.15 defeated by Ferntree Gully 5.7.37)
Coming off their first win of 2021 and up against an Eagles side that was humbled by The Basin the previous week, the Suns had their first loss inflicted upon them in Division One down at Wally Tew Reserve.
For the first three quarters it was a tight contest, with Ferntree Gully holding a two point lead (17-15) at three quarter time. After that the Eagles exploded, scoring 20-0 in the final quarter and moving to a 5-1 record.
Isabella Gietzmann and Abbey Tanner were the only goalkickers on the day, with Ferntree Gully’s Amy McCormack, Abbey Broughan (two goals) and Sophie Stark (one) getting the B&F votes as Whitehorse picked up their fifth loss of 2021.
Standout Player: Isabella Gietzmann
Coming across from West Brunswick after spending her entire junior career at Springfield Park, superstar Gietzmann was superb in her first senior season for Whitehorse.
Was by far their biggest threat up forward, kicking 23 goals in seven Division One games (plus five in four premier division games), including a season high of seven against SBL Wolves, picking up the three B&F votes that game.
In total she picked up 15 best and fairest votes, 12 in Division One and all in BOG performances. Named in a forward pocket in the team of the year, has an extremely bright future ahead at the Suns.
All has been quiet for the Suns, with (at time of writing) only one major announcement this offseason, which is ex-Hawthorn and Port Melbourne VFLW Abbey Tanner announced as an assistant coach.
The main thing they should be focusing on is re-signing their key players such as Gietzmann and Bronte Bilston-Gourley, however they could use a bit more depth up forward.
Now Gietzmann is a terrific forward, but she lacked support, whereas other key forwards such as Julia Baker and Abbey Broughan did. The Suns next best goalkicker after her was Susan Fearn-Wannan with only six.
They did well given their start of 2021, but if they want to be competitive with the likes of Ferntree Gully and The Basin, they’re gonna need to find Isabella Gietzmann a partner in crime.