Essendon’s AFLW finals debut is one that it will want to forget with its season coming to an end on Sunday afternoon.
Playing finals in just their second season in the competition, the Bombers faced a red hot Geelong side at GMHBA Stadium in an elimination final.
The Cats, who have been one of the best first quarter sides in the competition, were again in the action early.
The Cats dominated the uncontested ball against a nervous Bombers side and were able to hit the scoreboard early on.
Their three leading goal kickers hit the scoreboard in the first quarter to give the side a 21 point lead at quarter time.
The Bombers finally got on the scoreboard in the second quarter but their dominance was recognised with the Cats able to find the answers when needed and extended the lead to 36 points at half time.
Neither team was able to score a goal in the third quarter with both sides having their chances, with the Cats able to lock the ball up.
Maddy Prespakis kicked her second, and a third straight goal from the Prespakis sisters, to open the last quarter and give her side some hope.
While the game was over, the Bombers didn’t give up and kept the pressure on in the final minutes.
The Bombers kicked the only three goals of the quarter, and the second half, to add some respectability to the scoreboard.
The Cats won 7.9 (51)-5.3 (33) to seal a semi final spot.
Maddy Prespakis was the only multiple goal kicker for the Bombers with two goals. She also had 20 possessions.
Younger sister Georgie had the better of her with one goal and 23 disposals.
Georgia Nanscawen had 21 disposals and eight tackles for the Bombers and was one of their best.
Bonnie Toogood, who got moved into the midfield in the third quarter, tried hard all day for the Bombers.
The match was the final in the career of Jess Wuetschner, who had announced her retirement before the game.
Bombers assistant coach Travis Cloke said in a video to members, what a year it had been.
“From Natalie Wood down to our 31st player this year, to have the success we’ve had and make the finals,” he said. “It’s disappointing but it’s such a good dream of these girls to play and now we look forward to off season and pre-season development of the future.
“The best way to wrap up our season our girls are prepared to be hungry for 2024 and we look forward to the challenge and opportunity to get better.”
Meanwhile, Bombers coach Natalie Wood has signed on for another season.
Wood, the Bombers inaugural coach, said she was honoured to continue leading the program for 2024
“I feel very privileged to have led this team across our first two seasons and look forward to continuing for the next season,” she said.
“I am thrilled with what we are building here. Our playing group is developing a professional environment where we challenge and care for one another and have the ability for continued and sustained growth.