‘I want to stay in the competition for as long as possible’: Vescio on finding her form and the next generation

Darcy Vescio has added a second leading goalkicker award to her trophy cabinet. Photo: @aflwomens / Twitter

Carlton’s Darcy Vescio added a few more awards into her trophy cabinet at last week’s W Awards.

After a quieter period from 2018-2020, where she kicked 14 goals over 23 games, she’s back at her best, deservedly holding the mantle of the AFLW’s overall leading goalscorer.

Vescio would smash all of her personal bests in 2021, the headliner her 16 goals across nine games. This is the most ever by an individual player in an AFLW season.

She would kick her biggest bag in a game, with five against the Gold Coast Suns in round eight. Her previous record stood for over four years, kicking four majors in the inaugural AFLW game against Collingwood.

Vescio would also record her most ever disposals in a game (15), and had her most accurate year with an 80% strike rate in front of the sticks.

A second All-Australian blazer would additionally cap off her night.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum before the W Awards, Vescio was pleased with her year individually while still lamenting the Blues missing finals in 2021.

“Looking back, obviously [Carlton] had a bit of an almost season, so it was disappointing not to make finals,” she said.

“From a personal perspective, I felt really good this season.

“I put in a lot of hard work during pre season so it was good to be able to kick goals. That’s kind of what my job is, so I’m glad I was able to do that.”

Blues coach Daniel Harford was equally complimentary, lauding the effort Vescio showed throughout the season.

“It was the best year she’s had in the last three years, in my time anyway,” he said.

“It was nice to see her get some reward for effort.”

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2022 shapes as an interesting season for the AFLW old guard.

Veterans including Lauren Arnell, Emma Zielke, Sharni Norder, Leah Mascall, Aasta O’Connor, Sally Riley and Sam Virgo have all already hung up the boots, while Allison Downie and Katie Loynes have also departed Carlton.

As more young talent emerges, the majority of which have played Aussie rules uninterrupted from Auskick to under 18s, older players are likely to find themselves more on the outer.

Young sides like West Coast and Gold Coast have been reaping the rewards of their talented youngsters. Bella Lewis won the Eagles’ best and fairest while the Suns’ best and fairest top 10 featured six players aged 21 or under.

Vescio, still only 27 and in the prime of her career, is driven to stay at her best to keep playing alongside these special talents.

“We’ll see the girls having a season this year will be really important,” she said.

“We might see more players being drafted from the VFL. Last year, because the girls didn’t get the opportunity to be seen, it made it really difficult for older players to be drafted too.

“The younger girls coming through are just going to get better and better, which is amazing, and just makes me feel like I want to stay in the competition for as long as possible.

“Hopefully we just continue to see the rise of women’s footy.”

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