WHILE the Demons fell agonisingly short of the ultimate success in 2021, it was a season to be proud of.

Melbourne defied the odds to finish fourth on the AFLW ladder and contend in a Preliminary Final, with a number of its stars standing up throughout the fifth year of the competition.

Come Friday, the Dees will be celebrating all that they achieved this season and crowning their most outstanding contributor at the Best and Fairest awards night.

Take a look at some of the girls in the mix to take home the top prize below.

Tyla Hanks

Tyla Hanks’ third season at AFLW level was a big one, and it could get even bigger.

The 21-year-old midfielder claimed the NAB AFLW Rising Star Award last week and will be one of the front-runners to take home the club’s highest honour.

Lauren Pearce

The unluckiest of omissions from the All Australian team should receive some love in Melbourne’s vote count.

Lauren Pearce starred in the ruck this season, acting as an extra on-baller for the Dees around the ground and becoming arguably the side’s most important player.

Karen Paxman

It was business as usual for Karen Paxman in 2021, earning an All Australian selection for the fifth consecutive season.

The hard-at-it midfielder has finished inside the top-three in each year of this award’s existence, and you wouldn’t expect anything less this time around.

Kate Hore

Kate Hore’s near-perfect 2020 campaign was always going to be difficult to match, but she made a pretty good fist of it.

She slotted 12 goals from her 10 games this season and could find herself placing in the Best and Fairest for a second year on the trot.

Eden Zanker

A mid-season move for Eden Zanker flipped Melbourne’s season on its head and puts her in contention for this award.

The 183cm utility was thrown into the midfield and became a driving force for the Demons, averaging a whopping 332 metres gained in the last four games of the home and away season.

Maddi Gay

After an injury-interrupted start to 2021, Maddi Gay showed the talent many suspected her to have.

Missing two out of the 11 games may impact the midfielder’s ability to poll top votes, but her efforts were as influential as any, capped off by clutch goals in both meetings with the Dockers.

Lily Mithen

With opportunity in the centre early, Lily Mithen started the season in red-hot form and proved to be one of the toughest players in the league, despite standing at just 159cm.

The 23-year-old won the club’s Trademark Player award in 2019, always putting the team first, and she is another to watch in the vote count this Friday.

Shelley Scott

Last year’s Best and Fairest winner just loves to fly under the radar, but her efforts will likely have caught the eyes of the coaches.

Rarely receiving the credit she deserves, Shelley Scott was the focal point of Melbourne’s forward line this season, and despite copping some nasty niggles throughout the season, she never took a backwards step.