See how these diverse sporty women created a winning formula
BEING a former Brisbane Roar soccer goalkeeper, Lara Boon typifies the diverse but dedicated group of Ipswich Eagles players focused on making this year's grand final.
It's that mix of different sporting ingredients that has propelled the Eagles from easybeats to securing a spot in Saturday's QFAW Division 2 North qualifying final.
Boon represented Roar in the 2008/2009 W-League and had eight years with The Gap in the Women's Premier League competition before discovering Aussie rules about five years ago.
After recent stints with Beenleigh and Cooparoo, Boon is thrilled to be contesting her first final series with the Eagles.
"I'm stoked,'' she said, praising her teammates for their commitment this season. "Just to experience finals' footy is another level.''
Having secured third place after last weekend's 43-6 win over Sandgate, the Eagles tackle second-placed Pine Rivers on Saturday.
The all-important match provides a chance for the Eagles women to progress towards a historic grand final.
As part of the Eagles leadership team, Boon has taken on an important defensive role, having learning to adjust from her previous soccer demands.
"After a couple of years, I've really mastered it just with training and you pick it up,'' she said.
"The fullback role is pretty good actually because it's like a soccer goalkeeper position in AFL.''
But she's not alone in bringing past sporting skills to the Aussie rules arena.
The Eagles team features former rugby league, netball and soccer players, along with a gymnast.
"We've got a variety of girls that have come to give it a try for the first time from different sports,'' she said. "And they've picked it up and it's actually been an asset to use the skills that they had from their previous sports and put them into the AFL.''
Boon praised first-time Eagles coach Rex Watts, other players and support from the Ipswich men's team for helping develop the Aussie rules skills needed to be competitive each week.
"Instead of going backwards and not really clicking and losing our momentum that some teams do . . . it's kind of been the opposite.
"We started off rocky. As we got to know each other and we've got to know how everyone plays, we've got really good momentum.
"It's worked out well for us.''
Watts saw that progress in last weekend's crucial win over Sandgate.
"I tried a few things and it worked so I was very happy with it,'' Watts said.
"I'm pleased with their footy.''
In previous encounters with Pine Rivers, the Eagles lost 17-13 at Rob Akers Reserve before a 34-0 shut-out at Limestone Park on July 6.
With no major injury concerns, Watts was confident his team could produce the football needed to advance in the finals.
"The girls are really switched on and ready to go,'' he said.
"Hopefully we can push ahead and play in a grand final.''
Redcliffe and Moorooka are contesting the knockout semi-final.
As for this weekend's Ipswich game, Boon said it was up to the Eagles to show most desperation and heart with the football.
"It will come down to who wants it more,'' said Boon, who grew up in Biloela, near Rockhampton.
"We have a lot of players in the team that have been at Ipswich now since they've come into the comp and stayed with them. I know that they are hungry to be there in the grand final and the premiership.
"Hopefully we can keep our momentum going and continue to get better.''
Meanwhile, the Ipswich Eagles men continue their charge to the QFA Division 3 finals with an away match against competition leaders Moreton Bay on Saturday afternoon.
State of play
QFAW Division 2 North qualifying final - Saturday (4.45pm): Ipswich Eagles v Pine Rivers at Pine Rivers.
QFA Division 3 men: Saturday (2pm) - Ipswich Eagles v Moreton Bay at Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex.