The Bloods had a solid year, finishing the H&A season 9-7 in fourth position.
After edging past Monbulk by a solitary point in the Elimination Final, Olinda Ferny Creek fought hard against Woori Yallock, unfortunately going down 75 to 123.
Their first month was insanely tight, faring 2-2, losing by one goal to Woori Yallock in Round 1 and to Pakenham by two points in Round 3, combined with a 13-point win against Upwey Tecoma in Round 2 and a two point victory over Monbulk in Round 4.
Apart from the agonisingly close loss to Pakenham, the Bloods didn’t drop a game to any teams below them.
Fourth on the ladder was a fairly accurate representation of their season, given they didn’t manage to beat any of the teams who finished in the top three (although they almost beat Woori Yallock in Round 1).
Coach Brendan Donovan mentioned that defence is the biggest area for improvement, “All the teams that finished above us beat us twice.”
Their first games produced just the four wins, however their last seven games brought five wins, in what was a solid back half of the season.
Brendan talked about the improved form being mainly due to better cohesion.
“In our last game, 11 of our players had played 20 games or less.”
“Throughout the year, pretty much every round, half the side had hardly played together,” Donovan commented.
The team is younger than most and the team should improve next year, with another year under their belts, likely improving their consistency as that was something that came with having a lot of young and inexperienced players.
“Particularly being very young, we’d be up and down; in games and during the year.”
“We’d have momentum swings; we’d kick seven or eight goals and then the next quarter the opposition would do the same.”
“The first four games could have gone either way and then we lost our way a little bit and then had a really strong finish, Donovan explained.”
Their biggest loss of the year came in Round 16 against Narre Warren by 162 points.
Donovan saw this game as a good learning experience, “I don’t look at that game as a negative by any stretch, it’s a great learning tool for our team and all the other clubs.”
The following week was a complete flip of the script, seeing a 181 demolition over Mt Evelyn. Mathieu Rosier booted 7 goals, Noah Desta 5, and Lachlan Taylor 4.
Making finals again would obviously be ideal for Olinda Ferny Creek, however the focus is strengthening their defence.
“If we get our systems right and our defence & attack going the best we can, then I don’t really put a limit on where we can go,” added Donovan.
Lachlan Taylor 59 goals, Mathieu Rosier 40 and Noah Desta 29 headlined the goal kicking with Nick Keegan adding 14 from his 13 games.
Other standouts were Kelsie Currie, Patrick Rosier and Matthew Scharenberg. Francis Seal and Dale Rohrmann also enjoyed strong seasons.
Matthew Scharenberg (back pocket), Kelsie Currie (wing) and Lachlan Taylor (CHF) all were named in Team of the Year following their fantastic seasons.
The Reserves finished their season third on the ladder and went down by five goals in the Semi final to Pakenham after losing the Qualifying Final to Narre Warren.
The Bloods had a strong season finishing 9-4 in third position on the ladder, before going down to Healesville in the Preliminary Final 21-54.
They were on fire in the first half of the year, racing to a 6-0 start. Their undefeated run was spoiled by Healesville who taught them a bit of a lesson, (8-85).
The following week they steadied, beating Yarra Junction to the tune of 45 points, which saw Phoebe Dixon pile on a massive bag of seven goals. Unfortunately, the following week they came up against Healesville again, this time not hitting the scoreboard, going down by 50.
Yarra Junction awaited them again, this time with Yarra Junction upsetting them by three points in a low scoring affair (15-18) due to inaccurate kicking by OFC (1.9).
After a mini slump following an impeccable start to the year, OFC found some white-hot form again, taking care of Monbulk (48-9) and belting Seville (108-6).
They then carried this momentum into the first week of finals, flogging Pakenham (70-22) which could have been a lot bigger if OFC kicked straighter, registering 16 behinds.
The highlight game however was against Upwey-Tecoma, “It gave us huge belief, but it knocked us around a bit as well,” expressed coach Simon Gilson.
Unfortunately for the Bloods, they suffered a handful of injuries, headlined by Chelsea Wilson who was side lined for most of the year. A few more players who struggled with injury included Kiah Burgess, Kylie Verbakel and Leah Cody.
This certainly contributed to dropping a few games mid-season, whilst the midfield was improving according to Gilson.
“Our midfield was developing as a group, with skipper Maddy Collins, Claire Hyett, Lily Carlin and Amalija Kostich all winning clearances and generating forward entries.”
“Young gun Grace Belloni brought her own footy to games and her contested marks were phenomenal, “Gilson added.
Their back line was also on the improve, led by Casey Seymour as well as Sophie Caldwell, a first-year player who was growing in confidence each week.
Finishing third and making a preliminary final is a strong result for Olinda Ferny Creek, with their Prelim final margin being by far their best result against Healesville and the best margin against Healesville, barring up Upwey-Tecoma.
Phoebe Dixon booted an impressive 26 goals from just 12 games, whilst Maddy Collins (17), Ella Smith (13) and Grace Belloni hit the scoreboard.
Other standout players for the year were Casey Seymour, Chelsea Wilson, Lily Carlin and Amalija Kostich.
Team of the Year featured Casey Seymour (Full Back), Grace Belloni (HBF), Madeleine Collins (Rover) and Chelsea Wilson (I/C), all of whom had impressive seasons.
Next year, Olinda Ferny Creek look to improve further, having player improved cohesion and the fact that they have plenty of juniors coming through.
Olinda Ferny Creek were fantastic all season and won the Premier Division A Grade Premiership!
They finished the H&A season in second spot after winning 13 games, drawing 1 and losing 4.
Two of these losses came against Narre Warren, in Round 7 by eight goals and Round 16 by 12.
“Narre were the benchmark all season and they set it high, they really made us work hard, go back to the drawing board and problem solve, “said coach Brieannan DeJong.
Their other two losses came against Wandin (fifth) and Pakenham (seventh).
After the Semi Final against Narre Warren, OFC were still yet to beat them, but they were much closer this time, losing by just five.
They then had to overcome Wandin in the Preliminary Final who beat them in Round 9. They managed to win by one goal in a very tight game of netball.
“The biggest message we took from the Wandin game was just how hard we would have to fight for every ball to stay in the game. That we had to value possession and convert” DeJong added.
The Grand Final was an extremely tight match with ebbs & flows and notably unkind weather conditions.
The first half was quite tight after the Bloods got off to a strong start, dominating possession in the opening minutes and skipping out a 4-1 lead.
Hayley Howard’s shooting was on point, barely missing a shot in the opening half, with very clean passing from Taylah Werner and Krista Tomlinson.
Narre Warren were coming hard, and multiple times threatened to take the lead. Brilliant defensive efforts by Brodie Smith and Alice Paget. Bronwyn Simpson was having a fantastic game, despite having her work cut out against star Erin Bell.
Werner and Howard steadied late in the third quarter, holding a lead of three goals at 3QT.
The last quarter saw Narre Warren score a few early goals, whilst OFC’s shooting wasn’t as accurate as it was earlier in the day.
After a handful of missed opportunities, Taylah Werner steadied the ship before the two teams went tit for tat amongst some extraordinarily heavy rain. Narre Warren missed a shot just a split-second before the final whistle forcing the game into time on.
The Bloods found themselves trailing by a goal before they found a few goals and won 44-43.
It was an intense game in intense weather (especially the second half).
Olinda Ferny Creek won their only game against Narre Warren, and it was the match that counted.
Hayley Howard was the highest scorer for the season with 668 games with Taylah Werner and Jackie Cutting shooting 183 and 158 goals from their 16 games respectively.
They had brilliant depth as with a handful of players enjoying stunning seasons.
Krista Tomlinson and Hayley Howard were the two big standouts, making Team of the Year as centre and I/C respectively. Brodie Smith (GD), Jackie Cutting and Holly Taubert had solid seasons whilst Taylah Werner (GA) was fantastic in the back end of the season. Brownyn Simpson was strong as GK especially in the Grand Final.
Unfortunately, Bri Hipwell was ruled out midway through the season with an ACL.
DeJong touched on the great culture and depth at the club, “We have a great environment at Olinda that fosters competition and fun. There are always girls pushing A grade, the 17s coming through have great potential.”
DeJong expressed that the club as a whole is proud “It’s not just me, the whole club, all the coaches across all the disciplines are proud.”
With potential retirements and juniors moving up, next year presents an exciting challenge for Olinda Ferny Creek and having all five teams finish in finals and DeJong claimed that they have unfinished business across the squad with the girls being quite eager to consolidate come finals time.
The B grade team went down to ROC by two in the Semi Final following a 4th position finish.
The C grade team had a brilliant year, making it to the Semi Final, also losing by two to Mt Evelyn after finishing 2nd.
The D grade team went down by just one goal to Wandin in the Elimination Final after finishing 4th.
The 17&U Blue side also made an Elimination Final, going down by 10 to Pakenham.
Having five teams in Netball Finals, with one Premiership and all the football sides making finals too is an extraordinary result for the club, something that the whole club should be proud of.
Written by Jordan Peeler