A SCINTILLATING four-goal performance from Carlton marquee forward Darcy Vescio has powered her side to a 35-point win over Collingwood in the first match of the NAB AFL Women's competition in front of a sellout crowd at Ikon Park on Friday night.
Dominant Darcy wows the masses
The venue was officially declared a lockout midway through the first quarter, with up to 2000 patrons unable to get into the ground. It led AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan to venture outside Ikon Park to apologise to those people waiting.
The capacity crowd inside the ground was treated to a cracking contest, with the intensity – particularly early in the match – at a high standard on a stunning evening in Melbourne.
Full match coverage and stats
The Blues made the early running thanks to three first-half goals from Vescio and took a three-goal lead into half-time, before running away with a triumphant 7.4 (46) to 1.5 (11) victory.
Carlton midfielder Nat Exon led the way with her endeavour at the footy, while Brianna Davey (26 disposals and a goal) – another marquee Blue - rebounded strongly from defence and pushed forward to do damage on the scoreboard.
Magpies skipper Steph Chiocci (nine disposals) was among her side's best for much of the contest, until she was helped from the field following a nasty head knock in the final term.
Collingwood forward Sarah D'Arcy (14 touches) did her best to overcome the deficit with a strong second-half performance, but the Blues were far too classy across the ground and look like one of the teams to beat in the inaugural AFLW competition.
CARLTON 3.0 4.1 6.1 7.4 (46)
COLLINGWOOD 1.2 1.4 1.5 1.5 (11)
Carlton: Vescio 4, Arnell, Davey, Jakobsson
Carlton: Davey, Vescio, Exon, Jakobsson, Arnell, Keryk
Collingwood: D'Arcy, Chiocci, Barden, White
Carlton: Natalie Plane (ankle), Nat Exon (corked thigh)
Collingwood: Emma Grant (concussion), Stacey Livingstone (shoulder), Helen Roden (left leg), Steph Chiocci (concussion)
Umpires: Annie Mirabile, Nathan Toner, Jack Spencer
Official crowd: 24,568 at Ikon Park, Carlton
How about the crowd?
The AFL officially declared a lock out at 8pm, midway through the first quarter. League CEO Gillon McLachlan made an announcement to the crowd at quarter time to address the situation. McLachlan also ventured outside the ground to apologise to the 1000-2000 estimated people unable to get into the venue, based on the advice of Victoria Police. The AFL, of course, moved the historic first match of from Olympic Park Oval to Ikon Park due to concerns over the size of the Magpies' ground. McLachlan said; "It's an amazing turnout and clearly we're a little overwhelmed by the response."
Collingwood midfielder Emma Grant left the field of play in the second quarter after an errant swinging arm from Carlton's Brianna Davey in a tackle. Grant was assisted from the field by trainers after looking dazed. Grant took not further part in the contest after failing a concussion test. Teammates Stacey Livingstone (shoulder) and Helen Roden (left leg) ended the match on the interchange bench, while Chiocci received treatment for a cut above her eye. Nat Exon (quad) and Natalie Plane (ankle) were the Blues' injury worries.
The star of the show
Vescio was unstoppable all night as her speed and uncanny instincts around goal proved too difficult to curb. The 23-year-old booted three goals in the first half, but it was the variety in which she scored that was most impressive. Vescio said she relished the occasion: "It was such a special occasion and the girls were buzzing with excitement. We were able to harness any nervousness and turn it into positive energy."
A night of firsts
Who kicked the first goal?
The Blues may have dominated the contest, but it was Collingwood's Jasmine Garner who will go down in history as the first-ever goal kicker in the AFLW competition. Garner marked strongly inside 50 before cooly slotting her chance from 30m out directly in front of goal. Vescio opened Carlton's account in the first term, one of three for the first half.
"The players came with a real balance tonight of being in the moment, and recognising it for what it was, but also being prepared to perform." – Carlton coach Damien Keeping