Coach: Greg Gadsden (2nd year)
Last year: Ninth
Jayden Baber, Harrison Gadsden, Brodie Hawke, Justin Laird, Chris Lewin, Lachlan Murley, Jake Rollinson, Orion Crilly-Downing, Josh Walsh.
Sportsbet flag odds: $101
Player points: 46
R1: v Bridgewater (a)
R2: v Marong (h)
R3: v bye
R4: v Pyramid Hill (a)
PAST 5 YEARS
After a winless season in 2016, the only way is up for Bears Lagoon-Serpentine.
Second-year coach Greg Gadsden has retained his young core group of players and has added some class and depth to the group.
Key position player Justin Laird is the most exciting inclusion for the Bears. Laird, who looks set to play centre half-forward, was in the MCDFNL inter-league squad last year and will give the young Bears a much-needed focal point in attack.
Former Lake Boga midfielder Brodie Hawke and ex-Eaglehawk utility Josh Walsh will help strengthen the Bears’ depth.
Improvement will come from within, particularly from the young players who have one year of senior footy under their belt.
“We’ll have more depth than last year,’’ Gadsden said. “We’ve kept our core group and added a few handy players to the mix.
“With such a young group we’ll still get inconsistency, but our aim is to keep these young guys together and build them into a good football side. We’re confident we’ll make progress this year.”
Finals are out of the question, but three or four wins would be a big step forward for the Bears.
Q&A with Greg Gadsden
Q: With such a young group, what do you work on first - improvement in attack or tightening up the defence?
We need to score more. We didn't have a potent enough forward line last year to score enough goals. I though defensively last year, outside of the games against the top couple of teams, we weren't too bad.
Scoring was our issue and I think we've added a couple of players this year that will help us in that area.
We've also picked up some players that will help us off half-back and through the midfield, so that should give our forwards more opportunities.
Coach: Cara Bastian (new)
Cara Bastian (Strathfieldsaye); Sarah Perry (returning to the club).
Retained A-grade players from last year
B-grade: Cara Bastian
C-grade: Sarah Bollard
Under-17: Hayley Koetsier and Jaimi Elgar
Under-15: Ellen McRae
Minis: Michelle Francis
LAST THREE YEARS
IT'S been a lean few seasons for Bears Lagoon-Serpentine, who finished last year in eighth position, with a solitary win over Inglewood.
But the arrival of new coach Cara Bastian, coupled with the return of dual A-grade league best and fairest Sarah Perry and the retention of the bulk of their senior playing squad, gives the Bears plenty of reason of optimism.
Bastian, a member of Strathfieldsaye's 2015 grand final team, brings with her plenty of premiership playing experience from her previous stint in the Loddon Valley with YCW.
The former league representative said players had relished a fresh approach to pre-season.
"We've engaged a personal trainer this year and worked a lot on our fitness early, but the girls have really taken to the court work and enjoying the new approach," she said.
The Bears played Lockington-Bamawm United in a practice match last Saturday and will front up against Newstead this weekend.
"We're really looking to make sure we have the right combinations on the court as we heads towards Bridgewater in the first round," Bastian said. The Bears first home game is in round two against Marong.
Q&A with Cara Bastian
Q: What has brought you back to the LVFNL?
I'm originally from the Loddon Valley (YCW), so I decided I would switch back across and look at a coaching opportunity and this one presented itself. I think I have a bit to offer the girls here and I hope I can transfer a fair bit of knowledge to them over the course of the year.
Q: Last year was a tough one for the Bears, where do you believe you can turn things around?
I want to take things right back to basics. Work on the fundamentals and get them ingrained in all aspects of the club and across all grades, so we can continue to build on those for the years to come. There's an influx of new girls, but I'm hopeful all the girls can step up.