Silencing some doubters on the weekend, West Coast was able to get its first round one win since the side joined the AFLW back in 2020.
With a big list turnover and lots of work put in over the pre-season, the Eagles were able to run out the game against Port Adelaide to start their season off in the right way.
A big part of that win was Eagles midfielder Aisling McCarthy who had 18 disposals, eight tackles and a goal.
Putting a lot of work into her own game and fitness over the off-season after a wrist injury against Geelong in round five saw her ruled out for the remainder of season six.
Speaking exclusively to The Inner Sanctum, McCarthy said that finishing the season the way she did put that fire in the belly to come back fitter and stronger.
“I suppose I got a bit of an innocuous knock in the Geelong game last year and broke my wrist,” McCarthy told The Inner Sanctum.
“It was tough to sit on the sidelines and watch the girls play, when this season got brought forward it just made me work hard during the offseason and make sure I was back fit and healthy for day one of preseason.
“So just delighted to get the last couple of months under my belt of hard work and yeah, it’s good just to be back out in the field with the girls again.”
Going into season seven there was discussions among the leadership group on the standards at the club after finishing on the bottom of the ladder last season.
“From a leadership group and coaching staff, we met and had a chat and we realised that we needed to really up our standards and our professionalism as a group. Obviously, we came bottom of the ladder last year so there had to be some changes.
“I think we worked really hard in the preseason to come up with a really strong group purpose, standards and behaviours and we’ve instilled that in our young group, and I think we’ve just upped everything.
“Our S&C coach as well has really put us on a good running on programme over the preseason. I think that showed the weekend as well that we’re able to play for the four quarters.
“So, I think we just kind of upped everything in the preseason, knowing that we had a lot to improve on and we’re just hoping that that can help build us this year and continue to develop our young side in the in the coming seasons.”
McCarthy was given the role on stopping Port Adelaide Captain Erin Phillips, which was no easy task, although something she’d had experience with from her time at the Western Bulldogs.
“It was it was not something I thought I would potentially be doing but Mick [Michael Prior] our head coach and Hammer [Hamish Brayshaw] my midfield coach came to me during the week and just said they had a job for me obviously is daunting task.
“I’ve huge respect for Erin and what she’s done in the game and all her accolades and achievements speak for themselves.
“It was a huge task so I just put my head down during the week looked at some vision and thought that something that I possibly could help the team with. So, I was just happy to have a role for the team and if that meant that I didn’t have a great game, but we come away with the win then I was happy with that.
“I’m not sure if it’s something that I’ll do going forward, I know when I was at the Bulldogs a few seasons ago I used to run on some of the better midfielders back then as well.
“It’s something I’ve done a little bit in my career but I’m not sure if it was just kind of round one thing and I was playing my own game for the rest of season or if it’s something that I might do a bit during the year.”
For passages of play during the match against Port Adelaide, the ball movement from West Coast look really clean which is something that they worked on over the pre-season.
“I think we have a young, energetic side and we have speed in the forward line as well. So, I think when we got out of the open side a bit and got going forward fast we had good luck.
“I think that’s something that we’ll try to continue to do and yeah, our ball movement was something that we definitely worked on in the preseason along with a lot of other things. It was good that we did get some looks at the weekend and we’ll just work on that.
“There’s obviously sometimes that we things that we could improve on and make we’ll go through that with us this week in our reviews. I think some of the looks and scoring opportunities and inside 50s that we got was definitely an improvement on last year.”
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Ella Roberts and Kate Bartlett impressed in their first time putting on the blue and gold jumper with the pair among the standouts for the Eagles.
“Ella Roberts number one pick has been talked about for quite a while and she’s slotted right in but she’s still 17, so obviously we’re not expecting the world of her we just want her to come in and enjoy her football and I think she did that on weekend and she obviously plays with WAFL level at Peel with Kate Bartlett.
“It’s great to have Kate back at the club, she’s worked really hard the last year at WAFL level and got another opportunity at the club so delighted for her to wear the blue and gold for the first time and kick a goal too. So I think we’ll see great things from them this year and they have good link up play as well because they know each other from WAFL footy. So that’s always good to have that connection in the forward line as well.”
Despite being 11 points down at the final break, the Eagles were able to run over the top of Port Adelaide after four consecutive goals in that final quarter, with the work done over the preseason starting to pay off.
“I think that’s something we spoke about during the week as well that it was definitely going to be an arm wrestle until at least the third quarter because Port Adelaide are a great team and obviously would have they would have brought a lot of emotion and pride playing their first ever game.
“We knew we kind of had to ride that wave a little bit and that hopefully our fitness would kind of come to fruition in the four the quarter which it did. I think we’ll just take confidence that our work in the preseason did help, and I think we’re just learning to win as well as important.
“Just even looking back to playing gold coast last year they got a run on us in the fourth quarter. For us to be able to do that to another team was kind of a confidence boost as well. We just know that we can probably dig deep when we’re down during the season now and we potentially can make a good comeback.
“I think it’s just something that we can definitely draw on in the coming games.”
Getting the win was a great feeling amongst the team but they’ll turn their attention quickly to the game against Gold Coast on Sunday.
“It’s the first time West Coast got a win round one, it’s just really good for our group morale and cohesion. Obviously, we had a big list turnover, so it just brings the group further together, but we won’t read too much into it.
“Obviously, it’s nice to get to win around one but there’s nine more rounds and we’re just focusing on gold coast this weekend. So obviously, it’s great to get the win and we celebrated that after the game but turned around quickly to focus on Gold Coast this week.”
Looking forward to the game against the Suns, with the Eagles looking to play to their strengths when the two teams go head-to-head on Sunday evening.
“Obviously a win brings the team together a bit more and gives a good boost of confidence but we’re just a process driven team this year. So we’ll obviously do our opposition study during the week and Mick will come to us on how we can potentially shut down areas where Gold Coast are strong.
“I think just focus on ourselves is the main thing, we got back to training and it was just focusing on the weekend and I think the whole squad is going to get to travel as well which is really good as well for our cohesion and just to continue building as a side so we’re just looking forward to hopefully backing up performance and getting another week this weekend.”
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