It was a “bittersweet” start to the AFLW season for Geelong, with the Cats falling to North Melbourne by eight points on Saturday.
In new coach Dan Lowther’s first game in charge, the Cats battled back from a slow start to take the lead in the third quarter against the much-fancied Kangaroos, but couldn’t hold on as North Melbourne kicked two last quarter goals to give the Cats a 4.2 (26) to 3.6 (18) defeat.
However there were positive signs for the Cats, who welcomed eight new players for their first game in the hoops, considering they had lost by 10 goals the last time the two teams met in round one 2020.
“We came here to win,” Lowther said after the loss.
“To be in a winnable position at three quarter time and let it slip is disappointing, but there were some really positive signs.
“It’s pleasing to have so much change occur in a short time period and be able to be consistent as a group.
“We focused a lot over the last five months on playing a certain way and the expectation is our players play that way and style.
“After half time we kind of found our groove and played that way.
“The Kangaroos’ defensive game is quite strong, so we made a few adjustments after half-time, which kind of equalised that for us.”
The Cats won just the one game last year, with scoring being the major issue for the side in 2020 and Lowther said he had seen improvement already.
The Cats had eight shots on goal, and with better accuracy, could have claimed a win.
“We had some opportunities to score, which we didn’t get last year,” Lowther said.
“So, to have some shots on goal today that were gettable, and not to take them, is a little bit disappointing.
“But, still, better signs.
“It’s really pleasing [that] we’ve come a long way in a short time.
“We just need to make sure we’re consistent across four quarters and I thought after half time we showed that consistency.”
Number two draft pick Georgie Prespakis was a standout in her first game for the Cats, collecting a team-high 20 disposals and seven clearances, while vice captain Nina Morrison – a former number one pick – played her first game in almost two years.
She finished with 14 touches and five tackles in what Lowther said was a good return.
“To her smiling after the game, pre-game and during the game is good for her,” he said.
Geelong look to have escaped the game unscathed despite recruit Chloe Scheer suffering a head knock in a collision with teammate Claudia Gunjaca and captain Meg McDonald leaving the ground late with a leg issue.
Both are expected to be fit when the Cats host the Western Bulldogs at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night.