The scene couldn’t have been more set for Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team’s final game of the season, with Melbourne providing the goods and allowing some light to shine onto Boss James Reserve as they took on the Hampton Rovers. In a season full of ups and downs, the Animalettes’ last game of 2019 was no different, with fierce determination and belief not reflected on the scoreboard a feature once again. After three being named on the bench, Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team started with only one, but that didn’t stop them from the playing the game out. For their second season, the Animalettes did everyone at Emmaus St Leo’s proud. 

For 80 minutes, Hampton applied pressure at every turn, their speed through the middle unable to be matched despite some serious efforts from the Animalettes midfield, who were being rotated through with the player on the bench. Head Coach Roy Fenton lamented the first half, which saw ten goals to zero kicked. ‘We were very flat, playing behind, not being first to the footy, as well as not being able to hold onto our opposition when tackling, which is something we’ve been doing very well this year.’ Kate Lucas took an excellent contested mark in the forward 50 in the second quarter, resulting in the only score for Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team all day, even as it missed just to the right. 

At half time, with nothing to lose, the coaches switched the team around and kept Hampton to just four goals for the final forty minutes. For Assistant Coach Brendan Ellwood, Kate Fletcher responded well when asked to go into the middle and be physical, with her intent helping to lift her team coming out of the main break. ‘When she has confidence behind her, she really has a crack.’ Other players who impressed both coaches were Bec Herne, with Ellwood stating that ‘she had a few beautiful plays where she attacked the footy to win the loose ball, and rebounded out of 50.’ Claire Anderson, who has been an incredible force down back all season, played the last quarter on ball despite her protests, and came out on top. ‘KL [Lucas] had some dangerous moments, and Moo [Jess Evans] ran herself into the ground even when she wasn’t getting reward with the ball,’ Ellwood lauds, albeit summing up a lot of the Animalettes’ season. Emily Kerr also impressed him, which was good to see despite her missing a large chunk of the season with injury.

In somewhat of an apparent tradition, Shellby Lonie, who did her MCL in the last game of last season, went down injured with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the umpires stopping the clock to allow her to be stretchered off with ligament damage in her ankle. 

Despite efforts from everyone involved, including the Morley sisters whose run through the midfield provided ample movement when the ball wasn’t tied up in a pack, Hampton ran away winners 13.16.94 to 0.1.1. With both teams coming into the game with nothing to lose, specifically Hampton who had already solidified their top three spot on the ladder, the scoreboard didn’t reflect the spirit the Animalettes showed on the day. 

In their second season, Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team should feel nothing but pride in the way they carried themselves in 2019. The constant battle to field a side never took the attention away from how they performed on-field, nor did it lessen the amount of love and support they all have for each other off-field. The benchmark has already been set for an even better 2020.