One of the best wins in the Western Bulldogs short history in the AFL Women’s has been overshadowed by a knee injury to No. 1 draft pick Isabel Huntington.
The Bulldogs made it two-from-two in impressive fashion, upsetting last year’s grand finalists Brisbane Lions on the road by nine points at the South Pine Sports Complex on Sunday, but celebrations were tempered by the season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury to Huntington.
“It’s pretty deflating to have a really good win and to see ‘Izz’ [injured],” Bulldogs coach Paul Groves said.
“Just feeling exhausted because I feel so much for her.
“The character of the individual is just immense.
“It’s a Katie Brennan and Ellie Blackburn mould who is just going to lead the club for so many years.”
Even though Huntington’s injury occurred in the second quarter, the 18-year-old had already left her mark on the game.
Huntington showed her potential with two powerful contested marks and two goals in the moments before the injury struck.
It was an eye opener to see how good Huntington can be when she returns from her injury.
“She dropped a few early and I said to her at quarter-time, you’ve got to keep going for them,” Groves said.
“She’s got this long reach and they just stuck, really proud of her resilience to get back in the game and keep going.
“She was putting a block on for a teammate when it potentially happened.”
Huntington’s attitude following the injury was incredible. Instead of wallowing in a ‘poor me’ attitude, she had a beaming smile on her face after the game and shared in her teammates victory.
“The character of her and the type of person she is, it’s just another little blip for her and she will get back from it,” Groves said.
It is the second time this season that the Bulldogs have suffered a serious knee injury to one of its young guns. In round one, Daria Bannister was left clutching her knee and was later ruled out for the rest of the season.
If there is a silver lining, Groves says the system is now properly set up to aid female footballers in their injury recovery.
“We have two 18 year-olds that were just going really well facing potentially long battles, but the plus side to that now, they’re not in community footy now, they’re in the AFL system, so we’ll give them the best support, the best surgeons, all of that, and we’ll go from there,” Groves said.
The Bulldogs had to weather a second half onslaught from the Lions, but did so with aplomb, thanks largely to the defensive work of Hannah Scott, who was a driving force out of the backline all game.
Aisling Utri kicked the game-sealing goal for the Bulldogs midway through the last quarter.
The undefeated Bulldogs will be interstate again in round three, facing Adelaide Crows.