Carlton achieved its most successful rebel VFLW season in history, with the Blues ticking off several new records before their finals campaign came to an agonising end.
BY THE NUMBERS
Position: 4th (after finals)
W-L-D (%): 9-7 (144.6%)
Players used: 45
Played every match: 5 – Bryannen Gurr, Isabelle Khoury, Amelia Klingbeil, Genevieve Lawson-Tavan and Ashlee Thorneycroft
AFLW players used: 14
Debutants: 14 – Mia Austin, Kaitlyn Day, Joyce Dunne, Ahlani Eddy, Jess Good, Maddy Hendrie, Emily Hurley, Ava Jordan, Taylor Ortlepp, Tahlia Read, Megan Runting, Georgia Tait, Ruby Watts, Chloe Wrigley
Best and Fairest: 1st: Madeleine Di Cosmo and Ashlee Thorneycroft, 2nd: Genevieve Lawson-Tavan, 3rd: Amelia Klingbeil, 4th: Isabelle Khoury, 5th: Bryannen Gurr
Lambert-Pearce Medal votes: Ashlee Thorneycroft (11), Amelia Klingbeil (7), Christina Bernardi (6)
Coaches MVP votes: Madeleine Di Cosmo (58), Ashlee Thorneycroft (45), Amelia Klingbeil (32)
VFLW Team of the Year representatives: Madeleine Di Cosmo and Ashlee Thorneycroft
Goalkickers: Christina Bernardi (12), Eliza Wood (9), Mia Cowan (8)
(Averages – Minimum 6 matches)
Disposals: Madeleine Di Cosmo (21.5), Ashlee Thorneycroft (18.1), Amelia Klingbeil (17.9)
Kicks: Ashlee Thorneycroft (11.6), Christina Bernardi (10.4), Amelia Klingbeil (10.3)
Handballs: Madeleine Di Cosmo (11.9), Amelia Klingbeil (7.6), Ashlee Thorneycroft (6.4)
Marks: Christina Bernardi (4.1), Octavia Di Donato (2.7), Ashlee Thorneycroft (2.6)
Tackles: Ashlee Thorneycroft (8.2), Madeleine Di Cosmo (7.7), Christina Bernardi (6.1)
Hitouts: Emily Hurley (19.4), Chloe Bain (13.1), Mia Cowan (0.6)
Clearances: Amelia Klingbeil (4.8), Madeleine Di Cosmo (4.3), Isabelle Khoury (3.3)
Inside-50s: Amelia Klingbeil (3.4), Christina Bernardi (3.3), Madeleine Di Cosmo (2.8)
Rebound-50s: Kasey Lennox (2.1), Madeleine Di Cosmo (1.7), Ally Bild (1.7)
WHAT WENT RIGHT
A maiden finals appearance for the Blues is a massive win. Having been eighth heading into Round 14, they did what they had to do to make it and then landed a victory on finals debut before heartbreakingly falling one-point short of the eventual premiers on their home deck in the semi final. Maddie Di Cosmo is a genuine star, appearing in the top three in seven out of 12 stat categories for the Blues to earn selection in the VFLW Team of the Year selection, while Ashlee Thorneycroft was just one three votes from the Lambert-Pearce Medal. While they went out to Port Melbourne in the finals, they did beat the Borough in Round 1 and also defeated beaten grand finalist Collingwood and preliminary finalist Essendon on their home decks to show they could mix it with anyone.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The Blues’ form was a little bit up and down. They had the best attack in the league, comfortable the best percentage and the third best defence, yet they still finished at 9-7. That indicates they gave away some games they would have expected to win. They lost three games by a solitary point, one after the siren and went 1-4 in games decided by a goal or less. The low point was going goalless against the Borough in Round 6 just five weeks after having beaten them convincingly in the opening round.
There is plenty to build on at IKON Park. Winning their last three home-and-away games to qualify for that first finals series appearance was a great achievement for a developing team. As was winning their first debut away to an in-form Williamstown team that had thrashed them twice during the regular season. They have an impressive young list and if they can hold onto stars such as Di Cosmo, Thorneycroft and Millie Klingbeil there is nothing to suggest they can’t have a genuine crack at winning a premiership next year.