The 2:00 pm start at Toorak Park is usually reserved for the senior team, young men who by dint of performance have been recognised as being in the top echelon of the Red and Black football players' hierarchy.
Not this day. Instead, the crowds came out to watch the women in action for the very first time, and they did not disappoint.
The nerves were apparent early, particularly in front of goals, but with skipper Emily Archer absolutely rampant in the middle and a backline as mean as any premiership winning Old Xavs defence, the Red and Blacks showed early that they belonged.
No issue was shirked, every ball and opponent attacked with confidence, desire and application and once Gabby Golds drew twin calicos for the team's first-ver goal, the Claret and Stout took over completely.
Collegians tried hard and performed with some well-developed skill, but the Xavs refused to give them much. While the Red and Blacks lacked football experience, they understood the demands of competition. They ran, they chased, they tackled, and their skills improved through the afternoon as they settled nerves and became accustomed to the pace of the game.
The performance was encouraging, to say the least. Coach Rohenna Young had spoken plenty to her charges about the mental aspect of the game and it is clear that her squad has already developed the same sort of attitude that has served the Xavs well for so many years.
Tony Ongarello was the last man to place kick a goal in VFL football. He might be delighted today that his granddaughter can kick a ball as straight as he could. Gabby Golds and Mia Tiernan booted goals two apiece, three more than their brothers (Tim and Louis) did in the seniors, ensuring family bragging rights for a fortnight.
Sarah Henderson looked very capable up forward and Amy Livingstone was a star in defence, while Maddie Sorrenti also impressed. All in all, it was a strong team effort that promised there is plenty to come as the girls develop their skills.
The crowd, won over by the enthusiasm and application of the players, cheered heartily for the debutantes, who rewarded all spectators with a thoroughly entertaining and dominating display.
The women of the Old Xaverians will encounter tougher ties than they did on Saturday, but Coach Young knows the ropes and her charges well. This week's result and the next two games will determine the section in which the OXW will play out the season. Wherever that is, these young women are going to show the football world plenty. They needed cheat sheets to sing the club song, but they will soon get used to singing it (and already are more tuneful than their male counterparts)!
- A nervous start for everyone’s first game, but a burst through a pack and a run and bounce with a long kick to the forward line from the captain, Em Archer ignited the team.
- Gabby Golds, front and centre grab off a marking contest for a snapped goal put the first ever goal in a regular match on the score board in the first quarter
- Inaccurate kicking at goal left the door open for the Collegians to stage a second half comeback.
- Mia Tiernan kicked two long range goals in the third quarter and we finally started kicking to the hot spot and found our forwards allowing them better shots in the second half.
- The backline controlled the whole game, with a strong wall pumping the ball back into the forward line every time Collegians rebounded.
- The team was rotated around a lot throughout the game to test out people in different positions.
- Player enthusiasm and competitiveness remained high throughout the whole game.
Old Xaverians 1.4-10 4.13-37 7.15-57 10.18-78
Collegians 0.0-0 0.0-0 0.0-0 0.0-0
Goal Kickers: M. Tiernan 2, G. Golds 2, S. Henderson, S. Ongarello, O. Fagan, R. Cox , A. Rhodes, M. Sorrenti
Best Players: G. Golds, M. Tiernan, M. Sorrenti, E. Archer, A. Livingstone, S. Henderson