Manor Lakes has revelled in its unpredictability during the inaugural Western Region and Essendon District Women’s Football League season.
The premiership-contending Storm has so many weapons for first-year coach Nathan Smithwick to use.
Consider this, three separate Storm players –Kellee McIntosh, Yana Frontczak and Lindsay Newton – have each kicked 10 goals in a single game. Who do you assign your best defender to if you are the opposition coach?
“I’ve been in football for 20 years and never heard of three girls from the one team kicking a bag of 10 goals each in a season,” Smithwick said.
“I’ve spoken to a few of my mates and a couple of my coaches and they’ve said they’ve never heard of it either.”
It’s the way that Manor Lakes likes it.
The Storm do not want to be over-reliant on one or two individual players.
Smithwick constructs his team around changeability and his players have bought in.
“One of the things I say to the girls is that you play as a team and you win as a team,” Smithwick said.
“I could easily sit Kellee at full forward every game and let her kick all the goals, but we have these other players that have the ability to hurt teams as well and that’s our biggest strength.
“We’re able to roll 10 girls through the forward line and be pretty comfortable that they’re going to … kick some goals.”
It has been a groundbreaking season for Manor Lakes on the milestone front. The Storms’ two longest-serving players, McIntosh and Cara Dunshea, brought up their 50th games for the club recently.
McIntosh, a member of the team’s leadership group and leading goalkicker with 38 goals, and Dunshea, the captain, are the heart and soul players of the team.
“They are the first women at our club to play 50 games,” Smithwick said.
“It’s massive to play 50 games at a club.
“It shows they haven’t just given it a crack for a season, they’ve stuck around and keep coming back and learning and showing that women’s football is a big deal.”
Dunshea has enjoyed a phenomenal season for Manor Lakes. The skipper’s courage and resilience continues to shine like a beacon.
“She’s very inspirational,” Smithwick said.
“She’d do anything for the team.
“She does all the tough things, she’s very courageous in a kamikaze-type role I guess.”
Dunshea is not alone in doing the rough stuff. You only have to look at Storm’s injury list to see the unwavering attack on the contest from the collective.
“We’ve had some crazy injuries this year,” Smithwick said.
“Our full-back (Mel Gheller) fractured her vertebrae in six places, the playing assistant coach (Megan Seckold) hurt her ankle and one of our midfield/forwards (Jaimi Paten) broke her ankle in the first practice match.
“The list goes on.”
Manor Lakes, who moved up to second after Sunday’s 46-point win over third-placed Sunbury, will travel to Roxburgh Park on Sunday.