Murraylands women have made history as part of the inaugural winning team of the SA women’s country championships at Renmark.
Larissa Schenscher, Bronwyn Trevorrow, Amy-Lee Hay and Aninna Tarasenko, who play for the Murraylands Swans, were joined by local ladies Jess Schulz, Brianna Burt and Kiara Woodhouse from Mount Barker in the Eastern zone team.
Eastern were undefeated for all four 30-minute games on Saturday, landing them in the grand final on Sunday.
The first of the games on Saturday was against Central, with Eastern winning 3.4 (22) to 1.0 (6), Schenscher kicking a goal and named in the best with Burt.
In the next game they played Northern and had a big win, 6.2 (38) to 1.0 (6).
The third game against Southern was tough and physical but Eastern pushed through, winning 3.2 (20) to 1.2 (6). Schenscher again scored a goal and vice captain Schulz was named best.
The final game on Saturday saw Eastern up against Murray South East, where windy conditions made it tough to score but Eastern won 1.4 (10) to 0.1 (1). Woodhouse scored Eastern’s only goal and was named in the best alongside Schulz and Burt.
They were to battle the grand final against Southern, including Strathalbyn players Bree-Anna Leibhardt, Morgan Tucker, Annabel Thomas, Lisa-Jane Millard, Tessa Grant and Ellie Fry.
Trevorrow copped a heavy knock which saw her miss the final, but she was elusive with her left foot from the wing.
Hay and Tarasenko performed well, playing in a competition much higher in standard than they normally play in.
The final on Sunday was played over four 15-minute quarters against Southern.
Tarasenko started at full back and rebounded strongly before having a stint in the ruck, while Hay was in a rotation which saw her play valuable minutes in attack and defence.
Schenscher played centre half forward, having shots on goal and contested well all game.
Burt, Schulz and Woodhouse showed their speed and agility all over the field.
Eastern were far too strong after half time and ran out winners, 5.12 (42) to 3.3 (21).
Coach Patrick Sim, who also coaches the Mount Barker senior women’s A grade team, said heading into the competition they were feeling nervous, excited and daunted; there had only been one training session on the Tuesday before the weekend.
“We had never played together before and only met all of the squad on the Saturday of the champs,” he said.
”To their credit, the players gelled like a team that had been playing together for seasons.”
He was impressed by the talent in each team which took the field.
“Women’s footy is a strong and vibrant part of country sporting life now,” he said.
“The approach to getting the best out of a team is at the interface between the individual and the team as a collective.
“Team culture, respect of self and team, and a sense of duty brings their own rewards. The Eastern side did all these things and the success followed.
“The Eastern side comprised of seven players with SANFL experience. They did a great job of guiding the less experienced.”
Sim said the grand final win was “truly exhilarating”.
“Bringing these 24 girls together and building such a strong team culture in five days was a wonderful experience,” he said.
“We probably had the game won by three-quarteer time, however it wasn’t until the 10-minute mark of the last quarter that we started to get excited. The moment I met the players in the middle of the ground is memory to hold for a lifetime.”
He felt a highlight of the competition as a coach was the way the players came together as one tight unit.
“Going through undefeated was special but only underlines the commitment and trust the players placed in each other and me.”
He said Burt was outstanding on the wing and was stiff in missing out on Team of the Year selection.
Schenscher impressed with her silky smooth play, and he said Woodhouse turned out an amazing grand final performance.
Schulz, who was vice captain, said the win was still sinking in.
“It was so special to be able to share it with close friends I don’t often get a chance to play with as well as new mates I won’t forget. It’s incredible that we met each other five days before and get to share this milestone together,” she said.
Local ladies named in the Team of the Championships were Schulz (Eastern, half forward) and Millard and Grant (Southern, both on interchange).