BIG performances from star players were more impactful and more common than ever before throughout the 2023 AFLW season.
Bags of goals, high disposal counts and broken records were a weekly occurrence, but what were the 15 best individual performances of the year?
Criteria: no player could be included more than once in the final 15, and the list is in no particular order.
Abbey Dowrick (Port Adelaide)
Round ten v Greater Western Sydney
Port Adelaide best and fairest winner Abbey Dowrick rose to the occasion to send off Erin Phillips in style in round 10. Her 24 disposals, going at 79.2 per cent efficiency, and 11 clearances (personal best numbers) put a full stop on a very strong season from the second-year player. Dowrick also came within four of the metres gained record with 785 for the game, and set a new AFLW record for inside 50s with 15. She had to carry the weight of the Power's midfield across the season, and capped it off with one of the best midfield performances for the year, playing a big role in her side's highest ever score and third ever win.
Chloe Molloy (Sydney)
Round eight v Western Bulldogs
The Swans' co-captain showed exactly how powerful a hybrid forward/midfielder can be in AFLW against the Bulldogs in round eight. Molloy started the game largely inside 50 before progressing higher up the field in the second half. Setting a new competition record for score involvements with 17, what Molloy did particularly well was maintain the confidence to play genuinely attacking football. Kicking three straight behinds to start the game, she didn't lower her head and instead pushed harder to ultimately finish with three goals, a career-best 28 disposals and 11 marks. Her shift into the middle late allowed her to bring teammates into the game, including a stunning run through the middle of the ground in the third quarter to set up a Cynthia Hamilton goal.
Aine Tighe (Fremantle)
Round three v Hawthorn
Continuing her impressive record against Hawthorn, Aine Tighe was unstoppable in Fremantle's round three win. Not only did she gather a career-best 20 disposals, she used it at an impressive 75 per cent efficiency, making her involvement in the play incredibly dangerous. But it was in the air that the Hawks simply couldn't compete with her. Tighe registered 12 marks, five of which were contested, to set up her three goals on the day. She wasn't only important inside 50, but attacking the ball higher up the field to provide a reliable target for defenders working to exit the back 50. Her work rate forced her Hawks opposition to go with her up the ground, or to concede a mismatch upon which Tighe dined out.
Georgie Prespakis (Geelong)
Round one v Western Bulldogs
Georgie Prespakis started the season with a bang, posting a 34-disposal, 10-clearance game in Geelong's 48-point win over the Western Bulldogs. What made Prespakis' game so special was how aggressively she worked to make her clearances effective and attacking, gaining 641 metres with her disposal, and registering six inside 50s in the process. Not only was she gaining plenty of ground, Prespakis used the ball at 73.5 per cent efficiency, making her stack of disposals highly damaging. Often Prespakis found herself impacting passages of play more than once, while also doing the hard defensive work to allow her teammates to flourish, laying 11 tackles for the game.
Dakota Davidson (Brisbane)
Round two v Port Adelaide
Coming off a disappointing round one loss and with questions still lingering over the make-up of Brisbane's attack, Dakota Davidson put the competition on notice in round two with a commanding performance against Port Adelaide. Kicking four goals in the Lions' 50-point win, it was in the air that the Power simply could not match Davidson. With nine marks for the game, six contested and six inside 50, her aerial strength was assisted by increased fitness and a confidence in her body. Davidson came within one of the AFLW contested marking record, and was often battling two or more defenders in the air, regularly coming out on top. She became the conduit for Brisbane in attack, if not the one to mark the footy and follow through with the goal, she brought the ball to ground for dangerous smalls to get involved in the play.
Monique Conti (Richmond)
Round ten v Collingwood
In Richmond's biggest ever win and highest ever score to finish its 2023 season, Monique Conti had a day out and brought her teammates along for the ride. With her 34 disposals, Conti registered a career best 11 clearances, seven score involvements and 615 metres gained. She also slammed home an impressive goal, breaking free of a centre stoppage, powering forward and kicking truly from outside 50. Conti's game was epitomised by a willingness to do the tough stuff, but caught attention because of her complementary ability to break free of congestion and generate attack, and did it all while going head-to-head with players like Britt Bonnici and Mikala Cann for much of the game.
Breann Moody (Carlton)
Round eight v Greater Western Sydney
Despite a two-point loss in round eight, Breann Moody played one of the all-time best games from a ruck across AFLW history. With her 23 disposals and 46 hitouts, she became just the third player since the competition's launch to have 20 or more of each metric in a game, and came within one of the AFLW hitout record. Moody also won a game-high 12 clearances on the day. The ruck worked especially hard to give her side control at the contest, while also spreading hard to cover the ground herself and repeatedly offer an aerial outlet. It was a career-best game for Moody, who until that point had spent much of her season playing as a key forward, and reminded the footballing world the reason why she is a two-time All-Australian ruck.
Bonnie Toogood (Essendon)
Round four v Fremantle
In Essendon's return to Windy Hill in round four, co-captain Bonnie Toogood put on a show in an important win. As Toogood became known to do throughout the season, her willingness to cover the ground and impact across all lines was vital in the context of the game, putting up a captain's performance. With 21 disposals, two goals and five inside 50s, Toogood was an important cog in the Bombers' attack, while she also won four intercepts and laid nine tackles for the day, proving her willingness to defend as well. Importantly, her acts of forward pressure were team lifting, and it was topped off by a goal celebration in the pocket in front of the Essendon faithful.
Ash Riddell (North Melbourne)
Round seven v Port Adelaide
In career game No.50, Kangaroo Ash Riddell played arguably her best game in her side's 63-point win over the Power. Riddell played a slightly different role to that of the tough in-and-under midfielder that she typically plays; this time she was more of a contest-breaking, handball-receive option outside. Playing this way still saw her gather 35 disposals, and she used those touches to aggressively move the ball forward, and even hit the scoreboard herself including a stunner from deep in the pocket. Her two goals and eight inside 50s were both career-bests, while Riddell also registered eight score involvements and laid seven tackles for the day.
Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide)
Round four v Greater Western Sydney
In 2023, Ebony Marinoff took her game to a new level and that was never more evident than her performance in Adelaide's 69-point win over GWS in round four. From a career-best 40 disposals, 36 of those were kicks, proving how hard Marinoff worked to make her contested work effective and attacking. To go along with her nine clearances for the day, Marinoff put up career-best numbers for marks (eight), inside 50s (12), score involvements (nine), and metres gained (737) in an outing that was the driving force behind her side's big win.
Zarlie Goldsworthy (Greater Western Sydney)
Round eight v Carlton
In just the Giants' second win of the season, Goldsworthy cemented herself as the up-and-coming star of the competition at only 18 years old. Without star midfielder Alyce Parker at the helm, the Giants needed someone to step up through the middle of the ground, and Goldsworthy did not just that, but went forward to have an impact too. Proving herself to be the difference in her side's two-point victory over Carlton in round eight, Goldsworthy became the youngest player in AFLW history to kick five goals in a game. She also won a career-best 24 disposals and laid 12 tackles on the day in her 100 per cent time on ground, essentially playing as a midfielder who then went to 'rest' forward. On top of it all, Goldsworthy also bobbed up in defence in some crucial moments to assist the back line as well.
Kate Hore (Melbourne)
Round two v Greater Western Sydney
Just two games into her captaincy, Kate Hore put together one of the all-time opening quarters in AFLW history, kicking three goals, taking five marks and winning 13 disposals in the first term alone. It set the tone for Melbourne's 77-point win to continue its winning streak. Hore finished the game with a career-best 23 disposals, five goals, eight marks, and 11 score involvements, while also laying six tackles for the game. Her ability to unsettle the Giants' defence and position herself expertly in the Demons' forward 50 meant she was a dangerous target all day.
Adelaide powerhouse Hatchard chose the perfect day to put up a near career-best performance, helping her side to a 67-point semi final win over Sydney. She was on a mission to get the Crows to another preliminary final, covering the ground beautifully to remain an option for teammates with the ball in hand. Hatchard won a career-best 36 disposals, took 10 marks and kicked two goals for the game, while also bobbing up defensively to register a personal-best 10 intercepts. Her combination of height, fitness, strength and skill makes her particularly hard to shut down, and the willingness she showed to run both ways made her the most damaging player on the field.
Charlie Rowbottom (Gold Coast)
Round two v West Coast
Former No.1 draft pick Charlie Rowbottom saw an opportunity against a struggling Eagles midfield in round two and took it with both hands, driving her Suns to their highest-ever score and biggest-ever win. Rowbottom's career-best 33 disposals and six marks were important, but it was her work at the contest that was particularly impressive. With 16 clearances, Rowbottom set a new AFLW record. Her work in congestion to make space, assess her options and then execute neat skill is rare, helping her to nine score involvements for the day, while she also showed a willingness to defend, registering 10 tackles.
Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne)
Round nine v Adelaide
In a season of big performances from Jasmine Garner, her showing against Adelaide in round nine was arguably the best. Although her Kangaroos fell late by just three points, Garner's 27 disposals and seven clearances saw her dominate against a star Crows midfield outfit. She showed a knack for losing her direct opponent, often getting loose into space in which she was able to do serious damage, including finding herself alone inside 50 on more than one occasion. Of her two goals on the day, one came because of that space she was able to find, while another came as a result of an expertly applied tackle – one of nine she laid throughout the game.