Western United celebrated its inaugural Junior Academy Presentation Night on Wednesday, recognising a number of outstanding efforts across the 2023 season.
United welcomed teams in the Under 14’s, Under 15’s, Under 16’s and Under 18’s divisions his year with each side going on to reach JBNPL 1 and three of the four ending the season in the top three places on the table.
Just as was the case for the Under 21’s and the Under 23’s, a Players’ Player of the Season and a Club Champion was awarded for each team to reward top performers across the season.
After leading the team with 10 goals each, Jordan Vonja and Winston Ashburner were the winners in the Under 14’s – the former winning the Club Champion award and the latter taking out Players’ Player honours.
Not only was the 10-goal haul impressive in itself for each player, but real indicator of both players’ successes were the opportunities given to move up into the Under 15’s side throughout the season.
Nicholas Tzimos was instrumental for the Under 15’s in marshalling the defence at centre-back, also chipping in with two goals in 18 appearances.
Tzimos was voted as the Players’ Player of the Season while attacker Matthew Di Lorenzo won the Club Champion after top-scoring with 14 goals and earning a debut in the Under 16’s on the final day of the season.
Both Under 16’s awards went to the teams’ star full-backs. Bailee Kocankovski on the left and Micheal Lettieri on the right were instrumental in everything the side did this season with leadership, consistency and technical ability down the flanks. Kocankovski earned the Players’ Player award, with Lettieri receiving the Club Champion title.
Defenders featured prominently for each team across the night, with Connor Nelson-Higgins claiming the Under 18’s Players’ Player award.
The Under 18’s finished a club-best second on their league table, and Nelson-Higgins was crucial to that success. His performances also earned him three appearances on the team sheet with the Under 21’s.
The final award of the night was given to Lachlan Grundy as the Under 18’s Club Champion. The winger netted 13 goals across pre-qualification and the season proper, also earning his Under 21’s debut and scoring against Pascoe Vale in early June.
Celebrating the success of the inaugural season, Western United’s Junior Academy teams will now take a short break before returning to pre-season training before the new year, aiming for a bigger and better 2024 season.