DESPITE an incredible fourth-quarter fightback, the Casey Demons have lost by a heartbreaking three points to the Hawthorn Hawks on Saturday afternoon at Box Hill City Oval.
Casey Demons 3.4 (22) defeated by Hawthorn Hawks 3.7 (25).
It was a tale of two halves in this one, as horrendous weather and torrential rain lashed the players in the first half, as the savvy veterans on the Hawks team starting to impose their might and bigger bodies on the contest taking an 11-point lead into the main break.
But as the clouds parted to begin the second half, the Demons burst through like the sunshine above to surge their way back into the contest.
Holding the Hawks scoreless in the fourth term, Casey was able to cut the deficit to under a goal with only minutes remaining but our girls couldn’t score the final blow as the siren sounded ending the game and the Demons hopes for a finals berth.
But the head coach was thrilled with the resolve his team’s showed to earn their way back into the match.
“Against an opposition, we think will go deep into the VFLW finals, to be able to get the game back on to our terms and for long periods of time to own the game I was happy with that today,” head coach Damien Keeping told Melbourne Media post-game.
“We were just short of connecting on some plays… There was some youthfulness about our look ahead on the footy.
“Today’s experience will benefit a number of players who were in those positions.
“But as far as their level of effort and intent our group showed today, we are very proud of how we are finishing the year off.”
Going up against the reigning VFLW premiers was always going to be a battle, especially given some of the women’s football pioneers and veterans wearing the brown and gold today.
But the Demons didn’t recoil from the challenge but rather played up to their more experienced counterparts.
Epitomised by the games of Amanda McDonough and Breanna Pratt.
Given tagger roles on the Hawks dominant midfielders, McDonough and Pratt were able to curtail the impact of Hawks gun midfielder Rosie Dillon who had been averaging 17.7 disposals per match heading into this one, delighting their coach.
“Amanda and Bre played on some of their midfielders we identified as their drivers, who have performed exceptionally well for them right throughout the season,” Keeping said.
“So to be able to shut down those players… They did a great job.”
But the biggest praise went to game from our co-captain Nicole Garner, tagging veteran Meg Hutchins completely out of the game and well off the 16.8 disposals she had averaged per match coming into this one, Garner added another impressive performance to her outstanding work this season.
“For Nic to play the type of role she did today it just rounds off her season, she has been exceptional,” Keeping said.
“She has been able to demonstrate that she can play ahead of the football, she can play defensive roles, and today she was really accountable for one of their key playmakers.
“I think Nic has been able to put together a portfolio of work which really puts her in the spotlight for AFLW opportunities and I think there are some exciting things ahead for Nic Garner.”
It was another match which got away for the Dees this season, the team’s fourth defeat of under 10 points, and with the loss, the side’s finals ambitions are dashed, but the coach is thrilled with the continual improvement his young side shows every week.
“We made a real commitment that we weren’t going to lose that contested ball,” Keeping said.
“In the contests that is exactly what they did… We were able to find a good balance today.
“Our intent to keep our feet in the contest and focus on gathering the football and not let the noise of those bigger bodies take the focus away from doing that today.
“I thought around the contest we were really focused and disciplined… It was real growth from our group.”
Next week the Demons season comes to an end as Casey hosts the NT Thunder at Casey Fields next Sunday at 11:30am.
The last time our girls played the Thunder it was one of the best performances in the program’s history as we dominated the Thunder by 65 points in Alice Springs in Round 10.
Let’s hope it’s a case of history repeating for our Demons to finish their year on a high.
CASEY DEMONS 0.0 1.1 2.1 3.4 (22)
HAWTHORN HAWKS 1.4 2.6 3.7 3.7 (25)
Garner, McDonough, Cordner, Lampard, Hore, Guerin
Notman, Guerin, Cordner