The Sunbury Lions are looking to go back-to-back in Essendon District Football League’s under-18 division 1 girl’s competition.
After dominating the competition last season which resulted in a premiership, the Lions have been nearly as good this year with just one loss for the season.
On Sunday, they will face Keilor as they look for that second straight premiership.
Lions coach Travis Hodgson said it was a pretty exciting time for the girls who have put in a lot of hard work.
“We’ve only dropped on game and that was on the back of making sure we really did share the opportunities around for the girls,” he said.
“Half the time with our strong side, it’s about getting good players away from the ball to allow other players to develop. Sometimes it has meant we’ve played sides that have had their best players around the ball the whole time. It’s probably kept the games more even.
“We still think that our best, is really good. We had a couple of girls which couldn’t play in the first finals against Westmeadows and still had a convincing win.”
On paper, the Cannons have the strongest squad in the competition. They have 13 players who are part of the Calder Cannons program, with 10 of them playing games this year.
Hodgson said despite the talent on the list, it was the new girls that had really impressed him.
“We’ve got those girls who are new to footy and they have really improved. It’s credit to the girls who have played a bit of footy and they’ve pulled those other girls along for the ride.”
Among the new players for the Lions this year, is Mikeely Lever, who has played in the ruck. Lever is the younger sister of AFL star Jake Lever.
Leading from the front for the Lions, will be Georgie Prespakis, who took out the league best and fairest award.
Prespakis finished six votes clear of Strathmore’s Mia Muscat.
Hodgson said Prespakis, who made her debut for the Cannons this year, was clearly the best player in the competition.
“She’s a special player,” he said. “I guess when you consider the fact she is bottom age under-18s and we are in the division 1 comp, she pretty much can’t be playing a better standard of footy at her age.
“She deserved to win it.”
Prespakis is following in the footsteps of her sister Madison Prespakis, who won the same award in 2016. Madison is expected to be among the top draft picks at the AFLW draft later this year.
Hodgson, who has coached both girls, said they were both very talented.
“I think she is every bit capable of being what Maddy is. They are different players.
“Maddy’s game is built more on the inside contest, while Georgie has that as well but is a a bit more athletic, little bit taller.
“Maddy’s ability to win the ball is freakish. Even though they are sisters, it’s like and apples and oranges, just both great players.”
The Lions will have two teams in grand finals on Sunday, with the under-15 girl’s team through to the division 3 grand final.
After finishing on top, the Lions had to do it the hard way after losing their semi final. They won their preliminary final, 3.6 (24)-1.6 (12).