IMPROVEMENT is on everyone’s mind at Lionheart Reserve.
The Lions dramatically fell away from the Essendon Ford Division 1 pack after going down to West Coburg in the 2014 Preliminary Final.
They combined for only 10 wins in the following two seasons, but managed to bounce back with a solid 8-8 campaign last year that included wins over finalists Airport West and Tullamarine.
If Taylors Lakes would have been able to reverse their fortunes in winnable games against East Keilor and Westmeadows down the stretch, then finals would have beckoned.
Coach Sam Tankard is quick to cite their steady improvement in wins over the last three seasons and knows that continuing that trend this year could, and probably should, result in a finals berth.
“We put ourselves in a position to make finals and unfortunately we got injuries at the wrong time, so it was a bit disappointing,” he told essendondfl.com.au.
“We missed out on percentage – but I thought it was a good improvement.
“We’ve improved every year and we’re hopefully looking to do the same again this year.”
It’s a new-look forward line and some added depth in the midfield that has been addressed over the summer, with Joseph McGrath, Rhys Deacon and Sam Kennedy all looking to add some potency to the Lions’ attack.
“We have brought in three key forwards, all capable of kicking 30 or 40 goals each,” Tankard said.
“We’ve got some new players in, so it’s going to be about how we gel, but we’d be hoping to pinch that fourth spot, if we could.
“I think we’re able to beat anyone on our day, but if we don’t play to our best, then we could also lose to everyone.
“It just seems like that sort of comp this year.”
Taylors Lakes’ three-year finals absence may be the result of refusing to break the bank, and for the time being the Lions don’t plan on pushing the $200,000 limit this year.
So Tankard is instead keen to introduce some fresh blood into his senior line-up and increase the overall experience of the group.
“We’re not spending big money, so you try and work with what you’ve got,” he explained.
“We’re playing a lot of kids (and) trying to get more games into them.
“Chris Vulic is one (youngster) we’re pretty excited about that will play seniors all year.
“We need to get our improvement from some of those guys that have got 20 to 30 senior games into them.
“If all of those guys can elevate a little bit, I think that’s what can take us to the finals.”
Good Friday at Hillside is our first opportunity to get a look at Taylors Lakes at the end of the month.
Key Ins: Joseph McGrath (forward, Pyramid Hill), Tom Kelly (midfielder, South Bendigo), Rhys Deacon (forward, Bears Lagoon Serpentine), Sam Kennedy (forward, Pyramid Hill), Jordan Adams (midfielder, Nagambie), Jye Bryan (midfielder, Huntly) & Josh Adams (Golden Square)
Key Outs: Adrian Longo (St Albans), Daniel Ratcliffe (Woodend-Hesket), Nathan Kennedy (East Keilor) & Fletcher Smith (Airport West)
First Month: Hillside (away), East Keilor (home), Airport West (away) & Oak Park (home)