19/04/2024

The Eagles fell flat in their season seven campaign, only managing two wins. (Photo: Eagles AFLW/Twitter; Design: Will Cuckson)

While there were signs of improvement for the West Coast Eagles, season seven still wasn’t the campaign the club wanted. Plenty of new faces were blooded, but it still wasn’t enough to lift them out of the bottom four.

Finishing position: 16th (two wins, eight losses)

What worked?

In their only two wins of the season, a key standout for the Eagles was the promising signs shown by the young guns. The youngsters gave plenty of reasons for West Coast fans to get excited for the future.

Bella Lewis and Sarah Lakay‘s presences were massively felt in the middle, especially when mixed in with the more experienced players in Aisling McCarthy and Emma Swanson.

Both Eagle guns showed up in the seven-point win over the GWS Giants. Rising Star nominee Lakay dazzled with an impressive 29 hit-outs during that game. Meanwhile, Lewis impressed with 16 disposals.

Over the season, Sophie McDonald proved to be a reliable part of the team, showing she could be a force to reckoned with defensively. The 22-year-old had a stellar run, making immediate impact and taking on big jobs week after week.

The season also uncovered gems in the Eagles’ two other Rising Star nominees in Ella Roberts and Charlotte Thomas. Roberts shone bright throughout season seven, and stood out during West Coast’s last game of the season against Melbourne where she had a season high of 22 disposals.

Thomas impressed in her second year, up on all averages off the back of season six. Her performance against the Tigers, consisting of a season high of 23 disposals out of the backline, helped her earn a nomination.

What didn’t?

There was quite a bit that went wrong for the Eagles. But perhaps the biggest headache was scoring.

Out of the 18 teams, West Coast was ranked second last for goals with an average of 3.3 per game. It was only just ahead of Greater Western Sydney and the Sydney Swans.

This was highlighted throughout the season, where the Eagles would suffer four losses by double digits.

While there wasn’t a player who was a consistent goal scorer during the season, there was a rotation of names who contributed with goals across games.

Across the 20 rounds, the Eagles only managed a total of 33 goals. It would be safe to say that Aimee Schmidt carried the side in this department, leading the charge with five goals made in the season. The Eagles’ infrequent attempts at goal were aided by 17 players altogether.

These included Mikayla Western, Kate Bartlett, Aisling McCarthy and Bella Lewis.

Emma Swanson addresses her players. (Photo: Eagles AFLW/Twitter)

West Coast suffered a cruel blow with several key players sidelined before the season had even begun as a result of injury.

Ruck Lauren Wakfer was placed on the inactive list as she was still recovering from a knee reconstruction. While Shanae Davidson (knee) and Evie Gooch (wrist) also were out for the season.

The problems continued to pile on for the Eagles after forward Kellie Gibson suffered a fall in a contested situation during the opening game against Port Adelaide. Gibson was later announced to have torn an ACL and was ultimately out for the season.

Schmidt, Jessica Sedunary, Beth Schilling and Ella Smith spent stints on the sideline for minor injuries.

The Eagles’ next major injury hit was seen in the loss against Geelong in Round 9 when Mikayla Western suffered a broken arm.

Breakout stars:

Although the Eagles didn’t have a memorable season, one positive sign for the future is the growth seen through Aisling McCarthy.

In her third campaign with the club, the 26-year-old took her game to another level in season seven.

The midfielder averaged 14.9 disposals, 11.7 kicks, 5.3 tackles and 3.1 clearances across the 10 games she has appeared in.

Another name who deserves a mention is Isabella Lewis. Like McCarthy, the 19-year-old has seen an impressive run in the season.

Up on all her averages, Lewis has continued to flourish since making her debut in 2021.

Appearing in all 10 games, the midfielder averaged 15.4 disposals, 8.1 kicks, 7.1 handballs, 5.7 tackles and 3.2 clearances.

Sarah Lakay also showed that she has what it takes to become one of the competition’s brightest young rucks.

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Highest point:

The Eagles electric performance against Port Adelaide sits up there as the high point of the season.

In their season opener game, they took full control in the second half against the expansion side to claim a 12-point victory at Mineral Resources Park.

After coming off an underwhelming campaign in season six, the Eagles women entered the new season looking to bounce back.

With the win under their belt, it saw West Coast head into the rest of the competition with optimism and confidence.

Lowest point:

West Coast’s final game of the home and away season against Melbourne was a significantly low point.

Kept goalless for the entire match, the Eagles could only manage to walk out of the game with a behind made in the second term.

Whilst they faced losses throughout the season, the clash in Round 10 was the first time where they were unable to get any majors on the board.

It was a disappointing night dampened even more by hamstring soreness which struck Swanson early in the match.

Perhaps the only real silver lining for the Eagles was that forward Ella Roberts produced the most disposals out of either side with 22.

Where to next?

West Coast’s main priority heading into the eighth season of the competition still remains of building up the youth.

With the prospect of finals still a long way with off, the Eagles will aim to get more wins under their belts.

Inexperience remains a key area for improvement as demonstrated by their final game against Melbourne. Whilst their playing list is stacked with talent, their limited experience saw them struggle to get a hold of opponents with more experience.

With a number of names such as Evie Gooch returning from injury next season, it could be just the thing that West Coast need to improve their misfortunes in season eight.

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