PERTH, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 12: Darcy Vescio of the Blues celebrates a goal during the round six AFLW match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Carlton Blues at Fremantle Oval on February 12, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

It was hard to get a read on Carlton for much of the 2022 season.

Starting slow, the Blues looked destined to occupy the bottom rungs of the ladder but late-season form showed Blues fans all is not lost down at Ikon Park.

Season Finish: 8th
Record: 4-6

2022 Season snapshot

Carlton were a picture of inconsistency for much of 2022. Dealt a particularly harsh fixture, which included facing both 2021 grand finalists in the first half of the season, the Blues struggled to get off the starting mark.

Succumbing to a 1-4 record by the halfway point, the Blues' season looked well and truly done - but a rampaging home stretch which included a 46-point thumping of St Kilda and an impressive win over Gold Coast redeemed their win-loss tally enough to climb into 8th position.

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Star player: Maddy Prespakis

Maddy Prespakis continued to star, while Mimi Hill and Kerryn Harrington proved their value throughout the season. With expansion sides now looming, Carlton will have to be confident that their 2022 season showed enough to keep some of their stars.

An undisputed star in navy blue, Prespakis continues to get better with time and showed just as much in 2022.

The 21-year-old dominated in the middle of the ground, averaging 20.5 disposals, 9.8 contested possessions, 3.6 clearances and 3.5 tackles per game across her ten appearances.

The commanding midfielder started the season in impressive fashion, with a 29 disposal effort (her highest of the season) in Carlton's 14-point win over Geelong in Round 2.

Coming out on top in the Blues' best and fairest for the third time, the young gun is undeniably one of the most important players in a rising Carlton side, but with Prespakis signalling her intentions to join Essendon in their inaugural AFLW season, the Blues will be left to rue the loss of their star midfielder.

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 05: Madison Prespakis of the Blues in action during the 2021 AFLW Round 02 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Carlton Blues at VU Whitten Oval on February 05, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Breakout player: Mimi Hill

While Hill's debut year was impressive in its own right, 2022 was the season the 19-year-old starred in navy blue.

Averaging 21.5 disposals, nine contested possessions and three clearances per game, the young midfielder showed why she was selected with pick 12 in the AFLW draft.

Playing from Round 5 onwards after tearing her ACL last year, Hill seemed to make up for lost time, coming third overall in Carlton's best and fairest with 54 votes despite playing just six games this season.

Hill's form wasn't just recognised internally either, taking out the AFLW Rising Star award and making the 40-player All-Australian squad despite playing just six of the 10 games.

Positives

Defence

Carlton were on the receiving end of six losses in 2022, but their defence seemingly held up well throughout the season.

The Blues were second league-wide for total disposals at the conclusion of the season and certainly had no issues getting their hands on the ball, with Daniel Harford's high disposal game plan enacted seamlessly.

Down back, particularly in the second half of the season, Carlton seemed to be able to shut down scoring and rebound out of the defensive 50 with ease - limiting Gold Coast to two goals in Round 9 and St Kilda to just two points in Round 7.

The skipper led from the front with Harrington having an exceptional season, selected in the AFLW All-Australian team for the third time and bested at Carlton's awards night by Prespakis by just three votes.

The 30-year-old was a rock in defence, averaging 14.7 disposals and 2.4 tackles per game.

Gabriella Pound also steadied the ship down back in what was a career-best season, averaging 16.5 disposals and 2.6 tackles per game.

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Negatives

Pressure

While the Blues were able to defend well and rebound from inside their defensive 50, their pressure around the ground still seemed to lack.

Competition wide, the Blues ranked last in total tackles made - averaging just 50.8 per game, compared to league leaders Fremantle who managed 71.2 per game.

As a developing team, consistency and lapses in concentration are to be expected - but if the Blues want to seriously contend for a finals spot next season, then a more consistent approach to defending around the ground is a necessity.

Season Grade: C+ 

At times the Blues had the makings of a finals team, such as their strong outing against the struggling Saints, but a poor start to the season cost them overall.