17/04/2024

The Geelong Cats will look to improve on last year, after winning the one game in season 2021. (Image: Geelong Cats Women/Twitter, Design: Will Cuckson)

There’s a sense of optimism down at GMHBA Stadium as the Geelong Cats will look to improve from last year's disastrous season where they finished second last.

There’s a sense of optimism down at GMHBA Stadium as the Geelong Cats will look to improve from last year’s disastrous season where they finished second last.

Last season:

Finishing position 13th (1-0-8)

The 2021 season didn’t go to plan for Geelong as it struggled to make an impact, finishing second last on the ladder and only winning the one game for the season. The start of the year might have foreshadowed how it may go, losing to North Melbourne by 62 points.

Geelong continued to lose its next seven games – six of which were by at least five goals. The sole victory came in the final round of the season, defeating the Gold Coast Suns by 17 points at Metricon Stadium.

The Cats’ season got worse when they lost young star midfielder Olivia Purcell, who suffered an ACL injury in the 47-point loss to Richmond in Round 5. To add salt into the wounds, the 21-year-old requested a trade to Melbourne.

To make matters worse, inaugural head coach Paul Hood resigned, leaving the club without a coach heading into the trade and free agency period.

What to look forward to:

Geelong fans have many things to look forward to this season as the side continues its rebuild. The Cats welcome in new head coach Dan Lowther after inaugural head coach Paul Hood stepped away from the role.

Lowther will be supported by familiar faces in the coaching box, with Jess Foley, Josh Finch, Aaron Black, Elise Coventry, and David Morgan returning for season 2022.

Geelong also welcomes nine new recruits through the door via trades, signings, and the national draft. Chantel Emonson and Chloe Scheer were brought over to the team through the trade period and were a part of the deal that sent Oliva Purcell to Melbourne.

Olivia Fuller and Claudia Gunjaca were mature-age signings, while they signed Irishwoman Rachel Kearns as a rookie.

They also secured young talents including Georgie Prespakis, Gabbi Featherston, Zali Friswell and Annabel Johnson in the draft.

Biggest unanswered question:

Can Geelong fix its scoring woes?

Lowther’s first issue to solve will be how can Geelong score more. Last year the Cats finished last for goals scored, kicking 22 goals for the season. On three separate occasions, they only kicked one goal.

Richelle Cranston, who is no longer at the club, led the goalkicking for the year with five goals, and the next best were Phoebe McWilliams and Olivia Barber with four and three goals respectively.

With another year of development and despite being so young, Barber and Georgia Clarke come into season 2022 off the back of stellar seasons in the VFLW competition. In five games, Barber kicked 10 goals while Clarke kicked 18 goals in 13 games.

If Lowther can address the side’s forward line issues, it could go a long way in helping the Cats move up the ladder in upcoming years.

It’s a big year for…

Nina Morrison and Geelong’s younger midfield.

Geelong supporters can’t wait to see Nina Morrison put on the blue and white hoops again, bursting out of a stoppage and playing for premiership points. Morrison made her long-awaited return from her second ACL injury in the Cats’ practice match against Richmond in December.

Morrison has shown the ability to play as an inside or outside midfielder, and in her short career so far, she’s averaged 14.6 disposals and six tackles per game.

However, the line-breaking midfielder has had no luck with injury, experiencing two ACL injuries limiting her to only nine games since her debut in 2019, sitting out the entire year last season as she continued her recovery.

Geelong should look forward to seeing Morrison fully fit and back dominating as Lowther integrates her back into their young midfield contingent alongside last year’s best and fairest winner Amy McDonald, Darcy Moloney, Georgie Prespakis, and Laura Gardiner.

The young midfielders will need to stand up after Olivia Purcell’s departure to the Demons.

Geelong will hope to see Nina Morrison overcome her injury woes and back to her damaging best. (Geelong Cats Women/Twitter)

Fixture highlights:

Geelong’s first month is brutal. Despite playing three games at home in the first four weeks, the Cats will match up against three of last year’s finalists in North Melbourne, Collingwood, and reigning premiers Brisbane.

They will also face the Western Bulldogs who finished just outside the finals race. This match could be interesting as the Cats could potentially go up against Cranston for the first time since her delisting.

Geelong will be spending most of its season in Victoria, and will only need to leave the state for a couple of games.

In Round 4, the Cats will travel north to face Brisbane up in Maroochydore. Two weeks later, the side will again travel to Queensland, matching up against the Gold Coast Suns at Fankhauser Reserve.

Geelong won’t get the chance to go up against their former young gun Oliva Purcell who left to go to Melbourne. The contest will have to wait until next year (or finals) as the Cats haven’t been fixtured to play the Demons this season.

R1: vs Kangaroos, Jan 8 (Arden Street Oval)
R2: vs Western Bulldogs, Jan 15 (GMHBA Stadium)
R3: vs Collingwood, Jan 21 (GMHBA Stadium)
R4: vs Brisbane, Jan 29 (Maroochydore)
R5: vs West Coast, Feb 4 (GMHBA Stadium)
R6: vs Gold Coast, Feb 13 (Fankhauser Reserve)
R7: vs Fremantle, Feb 20 (GMHBA Stadium)
R8: vs Richmond, Feb 26 (Swinburne Centre)
R9: vs St Kilda (TBC)
R10: vs GWS Giants, TBC (GMHBA Stadium)

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Ins/outs:

Ins: Chantel Emonson (Melbourne), Chole Scheer (Adelaide), Olivia Fuller (Geelong VFLW), Claudia Gunjaca (Geelong VFLW), Rachel Kearns (Rookie, Ireland), Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons), Annabel Johnson (Geelong VFLW), Zali Friswell (Calder Cannons), Gabbi Featherson (Geelong Falcons)

Outs: Olivia Purcell (Melbourne), Aasta O’Connor (retired), Maddie Boyd, Nicole Garner, Rebecca Goring, Mia Skinner (delisted), Richelle Cranston (delisted, then Western Bulldogs)

Inactive: Millie Brown (break), Renee Garing (pregnancy), Denby Taylor (break)

Round 1 line-up:

(Headshots from Geelong.com.au, Design – Will Cuckson)

Ladder range:

10-14th

Geelong’s list is still developing, so don’t expect it to be challenging for a spot in the finals this year. It will probably be a couple of years away from becoming a genuine finals outfit.

The Cats’ expectations for season 2022 should be to exceed last season’s total of one win and should be aiming for at least two to three more wins as they continue to develop their young talent.

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