It was a debut season to remember for Caitlin Greiser as she quickly established herself as one of the premier forwards in the AFLW. A threat both in the air and at ground level she tormented opposition backlines all season long. Having written her name into St Kilda folklore with her last quarter winner against Melbourne in Round Two, she became a cult figure at Moorabbin. Twice nominated for Goal of the Year, she also earned Team of the Week selection two times. The Leading Goal Kicker Award is likely to be just the first of a number of rewards for an extraordinary season.
Greiser’s Journey to the Goalkicking Award
Recruited by the Saints as a mature age selection ahead of the club’s entry in the AFLW competition, the 21-year-old is one of the Saints brigade of multi-sports stars. No stranger to leading goal scorer awards, playing the round ball game, Greiser was the leading scorer in the Victorian State League Division One competition in 2016. During a season in which the then 17-year-old’s team won the Grand Final and she found the back of the net 28 times, she scored eight goals in a single game against a shellshocked Preston Lions team.
It was a childhood love of Australian Football though that would see her pursue an AFLW dream and turn her back on scholarships from eight US Colleges and the round ball game. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always kicked a footy around,” she said. “I did a bit of dancing when I was little. I didn’t really like that, and used to dance on Saturday mornings and then go across the road and kick the footy on the oval in my leotard.”
“When I was younger I had always wanted to play footy, but there was no pathway for the girls,” Greiser told saints.com.au. “I ended up playing soccer because Mum didn’t want me to play with the boys. I loved it but after 10 years I think I needed a change.” The advent of the AFLW and the Women’s TAC Cup provided the pathway she had always wanted and the change she needed was found with a place in the Western Jets squad for 2018.
With seven goals in her first two games, including a four-goal match-winning effort against the Eastern Ranges to help the Jets claim their first-ever victory, she quickly found herself in the VFLW with Melbourne University. It was her performances for the Mugars that saw her come to the attention of Peta Searle who convinced her to join the Southern Saints as they competed in the VFLW ahead of their debut AFLW campaign.
Earning VFLW team of the year honours, her first season in red, black, and white was a successful one. The Saints run to the Preliminary Final owed much to Greiser’s work inside forward fifty which saw her finish third in the competition for goals scored. Not surprisingly, given her efforts, she was rewarded with a position on the Saints inaugural AFLW list. The news of which was broken to her by Brett Ratten.
Round One v Western Bulldogs
Greiser made her debut in the Saints Round One clash with the Bulldogs at Moorabbin. In front of a lockout crowd, she provided a presence at half-forward but was only able to manage one behind from six possessions in the 25 point defeat.
Round Two v Adelaide
One of the central figures in the teams performance, Greiser kicked two goals as the Saints went close to an upset victory over the defending premiers away from home. Her ability to get away from her opponents was on full show in both goals as she got behind the defensive line and on the end of St Kilda attacking surges to boot her first two AFLW goals.
Round Three v Melbourne
The night the G-Train wrote her name into St Kilda folklore. On a Friday night at Moorabbin, Greiser was the match-winner in the Saints breakthrough AFLW victory. After kicking the Saints first of the night she would take centre stage again as the thrilling contest came to its conclusion. With the match having developed into an epic arm wrestle, she completed a strong one-handed mark inside forward fifty late in the game. With the opportunity to grab the lead for her team she rose to the occasion struck the Sherrin sweetly and, despite taking the shot frow well outside fifty, never looked like missing. Coming just four days after her 21st birthday it was the perfect belated present.
Round Four v Fremantle
A busy afternoon for Greiser ended in heartbreak for her team with the Saints falling by a point to the undefeated Dockers. Collecting 11 possessions for the day, the 21-year-old booted an important goal after time to give her team the lead they would hold until the final moments of the match.
Round Five v Carlton
The final score wasn’t a true reflection of the nature of the contest between St Kilda and Carlton at Ikon Park in Round Five. The young Saints took it right up to the more fancied Blues and if not for some poor kicking in the final term might have come away with an upset victory. Greiser was once again one of the Saints best this night, she would collect 12 possessions and kick two goals straight including her second nomination for Goal of the Year.
Round Six v Richmond
While we didn’t know it at the time this match would prove to be the perfect exclamation mark on both the Saints and Gresier’s debut seasons in the AFLW. In tricky conditions, the Saints were ruthless in holding Richmond to the lowest score in the competition’s history. The visitors had no answer for Greiser who booted three goals to take the lead in the goalkicking for the season.