Hurstbridge senior men’s young gun Mitchell Moschetti predicts his side will be a formidable force in 2024 after the club produced its most successful Melbourne Greyhounds Division 1 campaign last year.
The Bridges finished the 2023 home and away season in fifth place, reaching their maiden top flight finals appearance as a result, before bowing out in the elimination final.
Joining the club 12 months ago, Moschetti featured in his side’s best in 10 of his 14 games and kicked eight goals, rounding off a spectacular first season at the Bridges by being named in the Division 1 Team of the Year alongside teammates club leading goalkicker Joel Naylor and club best and fairest winner William Cookson.
The 20-year-old also played six VFL games for Carlton in 2023, adding to the seven he had already accumulated with the Blues from 2022.
It was during his first year at Ikon Park that he met current Hurstbridge senior men’s coach and then Carlton VFL assistant coach Joel Cordwell, who raised the idea of joining his project with Hurstbridge in late 2022.
The midfielder credits Cordwell with creating a positive playing culture that enabled himself and his teammates to succeed on and off-field last year.
“Joel has been amazing in instilling confidence in me, he’s allowed me to be myself and make mistakes to grow, which has been a really important aspect for my game and the team’s growth,” he said.
“He is a very well-rounded coach in terms of his people skills and also his tactical side of the game. He really understands football and always tries to help his players succeed, which has helped me tremendously over the last year.”
The Bridges fielded a side with an average age of around 23 throughout last season’s campaign and have retained most of their playing group for 2024.
In their second season under Cordwell’s leadership, Moschetti says keeping their core group from 2023 demonstrates the team’s strong endeavour to become one of the competition’s best.
“We had 80 to 95% percent of the blokes committed before the end of the season, which shows that everybody believes in the group and coaching staff. It was a tremendous credit to the group they brought in, but also to the people who backed them,” he said.
“We felt we had a lot of good pieces and only needed to add a few… but in terms of the core I think we have that. It’s great to see everyone was on the same page and could see that in 2024.
“I think going into last year before I got there, there were games where they went in not expecting to win, but I think now the expectation is that every game is ours to lose.
“Regardless of ladder position, it’s the confidence the coaches have instilled in us that if we play our brand of footy then we can match it with anyone.”
On top of seeing the majority of their 2023 squad stay put at Ben Frilay Oval, the club have also managed to recruit more talented players in the off-season.
Those names include former Sydney AFL rookie Sean McLaren, 2022 Whittlesea and Diamond Creek player David Mennen and Northern Bullants VFL representative Cameron Wild, while forward Cooper Perrin will return to the club after a year in the Mininera and District Football League
Despite numerous competitive encounters with the best sides of Division 1, the Bridges could only manage one win from nine matches against the top four teams of last year.
Moschetti has seen determination from new and current teammates on the training track to raise their level, eager to push their team to compete with the competition’s powerhouses.
“We have a focus point this year, it is rest at the end, not in the middle. It means getting your work done early and doing everything with maximum intent to maximise your time,” he said.
“For one, Harry O’Brien’s looking a lot stronger. I did a fair bit of training with him over the summer. I think he’ll try to make a bit of a transition into the midfield this year. He has got a great football IQ, and even though he’s only 20, he thinks beyond his years.
“Bailey Jordan has been playing up in the NT (Northern Territory) with Joel Naylor and Cooper Perrin. Those three down forward will be really exciting.
“I also think Ethan Taylor with a year as captain under his belt is really finding his feet with leadership and is set for a big year.”
Looking towards the 2024 season, Moschetti insisted that team success and not individual accolades, was the biggest motivator for his self-improvement.
He aims to fine-tune his midfield craft to suit these team principles instilled by Joel Cordwell, adding that he is prepared to do whatever is necessary to create success for the club.
“Particularly this year I’ve focused on my power around stoppages and looking to take the game forward more by being as damaging… as I can. It’s not just being an accumulator, but being able to damage teams with that,” he said.
“My end goal as a footballer, I am a very team-oriented person, so I just want to win. Whatever my role is, whether it’s having a really good week and being the go-to person or putting blocks on for a teammate that’s getting a lot of attention, I’m willing to do whatever it is.”