Monthly Archives: December 2003
The New York Sharks began the 2003 season as the defending Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL) Champions. The Sharks looked strong with many veteran players returning for the new season, but there were still some question marks. The biggest concern was with the offensive and defensive lines. New York lost 3 out of 5 starters on the offensive line and 3 out of 4 starters on the defensive line. To make matters worse, defensive end Beth Nugentinjured her knee in training camp and was lost for the season, giving the Sharks only 2 lineswomen, Anna “Tonka” Tate and Debra Wasilewski, returning for the season.
To help fill these holes, the Sharks looked to some new recruits and some veterans who did not play with the Sharks in 2002.
Returning as head coach was Nick Gianatassio. Having one year under his belt to get to know what his players can do, Gianatassio unleashed quarterback Val Halesworth and receivers Val “Peanut” Monaco, Liz “Magic” Presto, and Jen Blum on the rest of the league. The result was the Sharks filled the air with footballs for league records in passing yards and touchdown passes. The passing game was so potent that the Sharks had 50% more passing yards than any other team in the league.
As the Sharks started the season, the question marks seemed to go away as New York rolled over their opponents.
The Sharks played their 2003 home games in Queens, New York at August Martin High School and in Staten Island, New York at Monsignor Farrell High School.
Click here for the 2003 Sharks statistics
|April 12th||Montreal Blitz||August Martin||52 – 0|
|April 19th||Philadelphia Liberty Belles||at Philadelphia||48 – 0|
|April 26th||Rhode Island Riptide||Monsignor Farrell||62 – 0|
|May 10th||Albany Night-Mares||at Albany||98 – 0|
|May 17th||Philadelphia Liberty Belles||Monsignor Farrell||58 – 0|
|May 31st||Albany Night-Mares||August Martin||41 – 0|
|June 7th||Miami Fury||at Miami||20 – 6|
|June 9th||Tampa Bay Terminators||at Tampa Bay||36 – 0|
|Eastern Conference Championship Game|
|June 26th||Bay State Warriors||August Martin||20 – 6|
|IWFL Championship Game|
|July 12th||Sacramento Sirens||St. John’s||30 – 41|
(Click on the score to read the game write-up)
|2003 IWFL Final Standings|
|Mid Atlantic Division|
|p-New York Sharks||8||0||0||1.000|
|Philadelphia Liberty Belles||3||4||0||.429|
|North Atlantic Division|
|p-Bay State Warriors||8||0||0||1.000|
|New Hampshire Freedom||3||5||0||.375|
|Rhode Island Riptide||2||7||0||.222|
|South Atlantic Division|
|Tampa Bay Terminators||4||5||0||.444|
|Pacific Northwest Division|
|Pacific Southwest Division|
|Santa Rosa Scorchers||1||9||0||.100|
|Oklahoma City Avengers||1||7||0||.125|
|San Francisco Stingrayz||4||2||0||.667|
|San Diego Seacatz||0||4||0||.000|
f-folded from league
|IWFL Eastern Conference|
|New Hampshire Freedom|
|New York Sharks|
|Philadelphia Liberty Belles|
|Rhode Island Riptide|
|Tampa Bay Terminators|
|IWFL Western Conference|
|Oklahoma City Avengers|
|Santa Rosa Scorchers|
|San Francisco Stingrayz|
|San Diego Seacatz|
Queens, New York, July 12, 2003
The 2003 IWFL Championship Game featured two teams with undefeated records. The Sacramento Sirens had won the IWFL Westeren Conference with a devastating offense that averaged over 65 points per game. The New York Sharks had won the IWFL Eastern Conference with a brick wall defense that allowed only 1 touchdown all season. It was a perfect match-up for a championship game.
It was a beautiful evening for a football game. The temperature was in the low 80’s with little humidity in the air. The game was being played at DaSilva Field on the campus of St. John’s University.
Before the game started, international singer Rueben Flores sang the National Anthem and the coin toss was performed by former New York Jet player Ken Schroy. Schroy was not able to help the Sharks as Sacramento won the coin toss by calling tails.
New York started the game with a booming kick by Val “Peanut” Monaco which sailed over kick returner Michelle Kahler‘s head and bounced into the endzone. Excitement started to build as the number one offense faced off against the best defense.
The first series was won by the Sharks as they held Sacramento to only 3 yards in 3 downs and forced the Sirens to punt. After the punt, New York had the ball in very good field position at the 46-yard line of Sacramento.
With the ball in New York’s possession they quickly showed that they are no slouch on offense. After a Halesworth incomplete pass, the Sharks went to the ground and Halesworth ran 16 yards up the middle for a first down. The Sharks were only able to move the ball 3 more yards for a third down situation. Halesworth went to her right and pitched the ball to Virginia “Cha Chi” Leon. Leon used her speed to get to the outside and with a nice block by receiver Jen Blum on Siren defensive back Nikki Kopacz sprung Leon for a 27 yard touchdown run. Halesworth then connected with Blum for the 2-point conversion and with less than 5 minutes into the game, the Sharks had the lead 8-0.
The second time Sacramento got the ball, they methodically used their running game to move the ball up the field. Alternating runs by Julie Wicher, Kahler, and Leilani Lemary the Sirens were able to march 72 yards down the field on 11 plays to score their first touchdown of the game. The touchdown came on a 4-yard run by Lemary. Dana McIntyre punched the ball in for the 2-point conversion and with 3:46 to go in the first quarter, the game was tied at 8 a piece.
New York started off their next series on their own 38-yard line but continued to move the ball against Sacramento. On second down and with the ball on the Sirens’ 45-yard line, Halesworth pitched the ball left to Missy Marmorale. Marmorale turned the corner and was gone, running straight to the endzone. But it was for naught, as the play was called back on a New York penalty. It seemed like a big break for Sacramento, but the Sharks kept moving the ball forward. Just before the quarter ended, Halesworth hit receiver Liz Presto for 23 yards to give the Sharks a first down at the Sacramento 11-yard line.
As the second quarter started, New York had an excellent opportunity to get back on the board with the ball deep in Sacramento territory, but the Sirens’ defense stiffened. The Sharks went to the air, and came up empty each time, giving the ball back to the Sirens on downs.
Starting off deep in their own territory, the Sirens just kept to the running game and was methodically able to move the ball forward. Sacramento was not able to break off their patented long runs but were able to move the chains. But the Sharks were able to stall the Sirens at New York’s 33-yard line after 11 plays.
Sacramento’s defense this time, was able to stop the Sharks on 3 downs and forced them to punt. New York fans had to be a bit nervous as this was only the second time all season, that the Sharks had to punt and the first time in Philadelphia did not go well as the snap was short to the punter Nikki Gwinnett. This time the snap went to Gwinnett but the kick went off the side of her foot and the ball went out of bounds for only a 7-yard punt. With excellent field position at the New York 33-yard line, Sacramento did not pass up this opportunity. By going to the no-huddle offense and staying on the ground, the Sirens were able to get to the New York 12-yard line, where they then faked a hand-off and Limary tossed the ball to Hilary McLaughin in the endzone for the score. McLaughlin then kicked the extra point to give the Sirens their first lead of the game 14-8 with 6:10 left in the half.
The Sharks have only been behind once all season and so this was a strange position for them to be in. But New York came storming back after the kick-off. Going to the air, the Sharks were able to tie the game up by going 64 yards in 6 plays. The big play being a 44-yard touchdown pass from Halesworth to Blum. The Sharks then took the lead when Halesworth found her favorite receiver Monaco for the 2-point conversion. So with 3:59 left in the half, New York was leading Sacramento 16-15.
Having less than 4 minutes left did not seem to bother the Sirens as they quickly were able to march the ball from New York’s 46-yard line down to the 10-yard line. The Sirens were continuing to go with the no-huddle offense. Sacramento kept going to the option play where the quarterback would either hand the ball off to the first running back, or fake the hand off and give it to the second running back, or fake on both and keep it herself. With their fast runners, it made it very difficult to figure out who had the ball until it was too late.
The Sharks caught a big break in this drive when the Sirens were called for holding. This moved the ball back to the 15-yard line. Wicher was able to get the ball back to the 10-yard line, but a quarterback sack by Marmorale forced the Sirens to go for a field goal in the waning seconds of the half. The 31-yard field goal try was short and so the first half ended with the New York Sharks leading the Sacramento Sirens 16-15.
Things were looking good for New York. The Sirens were able to move the ball on the Sharks but New York was also able to move the ball. The Sharks had the lead going into the second half and were getting the ball. If the Sharks could continue to keep up with Sacramento, they had a chance to repeat as champions. Unfortunately for New York, things went down hill fast.
Sacramento made a few adjustments to start the second half and started blitzing more. The added pressure was able to stop the Sharks on the first drive of the second half. New York was forced to punt from their own 25-yard line after the Sirens had sacked Halesworth twice for a loss of 15 yards. This time Gwinnett was able to get a solid punt away. Wicher caught the punt at mid-field and then was able to run down the left side of the field for a touchdown. And just like that, Sacramento was back in front. The Sirens 2-point conversion attempt was stopped but the score was now 21-16 in favor of California.
The Sharks tried to stay with their attack in the air. It got mixed results as the Sirens continued to blitz and were able to get to the quarterback more and more frequently. Every so often New York would connect deep but not enough to score in the third quarter.
The Sirens got on the board again at the 5:18 mark of the third quarter after only 2 plays. Continuing with the no-huddle offense, Limari rolled out to her left and then handed the ball to Wicher who then ran 73 yards for a touchdown. Chantelle Powers ran the ball in for the 2-point conversion to give the Sirens a 29-16 lead.
New York tried to come roaring back by staying to the air. Halesworth was now rolling out of the pocket to give herself some more time to throw and she was able to connect with Monica Marsh for a 20-yard gain and then hit Blum for a 23-yard gain. Marsh caught an 8-yard pass to move the ball all the way down to the Sacramento 5-yard line, but the Sharks could not move the ball any further and were stopped at the door. That might have been the turning point of the game.
Deep in their own territory, the Sirens continued with their ground assault and it seemed that they were wearing down the New York defense. Starting from their own 5-yard line, Sacramento was able to score their fifth touchdown of the game in a 14-play drive. Three times the Sirens were able to move the chains on third down conversions. The touchdown came on a Limary 23-yard run. The 2-point conversion was stopped but the Sacramento had a big lead of 35-16 with only 8 minutes left in the game.
There was definitely a sense of urgency for the Sharks as they came out on their next drive. 7 times they went to throw the ball and 5 times it was caught. The Sharks moved the ball 59-yards in 13 plays in less than 4 minutes to score. The touchdown coming on a 3-yard pass to Monaco to make the score 35-22.
With less than 5 minutes left in the game, the Sharks were hoping for a miracle and went for the on-side kick. The Sirens were able to recover the ball on New York’s 49-yard line. It didn’t take Sacramento long to get the touchdown back as Limary ran for 54 yards on the second play of the drive to score. The extra point try went wide but the Sirens had their 19-point lead back with about 3 minutes left in the game.
New York would still not give up. Their dream of repeating as champions was ticking away but the Sharks would not believe it. After the kickoff, the Sharks had the ball on their own 37-yard line. Halesworth pitched out to Marmorale who was then greeted by Sacramento players at the 40-yard line. Not willing to stop for pleasantries, she refused to be tackled and fought her way out of the pile. She then proceeded to be a blur as she raced down the left side of the field for a 63-yard touchdown run. Monaco then caught a pass for the 2-point conversion, but it was too little too late. The score was now 41-30 but there was less than 3 minutes left to the game.
The Sharks tried one more last ditch effort with an on-side kick but Sacramento recovered the ball and then ran the clock out to end the game and the season for New York.
After the game, the league gave out an MVP award to players on each team. Limary received one for the Sirens, while Marmorale received one for the Sharks. It was a tough loss for New York after such a successful regular season, but Sacramento was the better team this night.
|New York Sharks||8||8||0||14||30|
NY – (10:15) Leon 27 yard run (Blum pass from Halesworth)
SAC – (03:46) Limary 4 yard run (McIntyre run)
SAC – (06:10) McLaughlin 12 yard pass from Limary (McLaughlin kick)
NY – (03:59) Blum 44 yard pass from Halesworth (Monaco pass from Halesworth)
SAC – (11:33) Wicher 49 yard punt return (run failed)
SAC – (05:13) Wicher 74 yard run (Powers run)
SAC – (08:02) Limary 23 yard run (run failed)
NY – (04:14) Monaco 3 yard pass from Halesworth (pass failed)
SAC – (03:13) Limary 54 yard run (kick failed)
NY – (02:43) Marmorale 63 yard run (Monaco pass from Halesworth)
Queens, New York, April 12, 2003
Last year the Sharks played their home opener at August Martin High School. This year the Sharks played their home opener at August Martin High School. Last year the Sharks first game was against the Montreal Blitz. This year the Sharks first game was against the Montreal Blitz. Last year, the day started off raining. This year the day started off raining. Last year the Sharks shutout the Montreal Blitz on their way to winning the Independent Women’s League Championship. This year the Sharks shutout the Montreal Blitz, and well we can hope the rest will go the same way too.
The Sharks started the game by winning the coin toss and elected to receive. Virginia Leon caught the kickoff on New York’s 29 yard line, went to her left and then headed up field. She kept on heading up field as she ran past would be tacklers until she was caught at Montreal’s 7 yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Val Halesworth found running back Courtney Eaton in the end zone for a touchdown at 12:54. Halesworth then ran up the middle to complete the 2-point conversion. So before you could finish putting mustard on your hot dog, the Sharks were off and running to an 8-0 lead.
The Sharks quickly got the ball back after the defense held Montreal to three and out. The Blitz punted but after a nifty 35 yard punt return by Halesworth, the Sharks had the ball on Montreal’s 30 yard line. Four plays later, New York was on the scoreboard again, as Halesworth called her own number to score from the 2 yard line. The Sharks went for the 2 point conversion and was successful as Halesworth found her favorite target, Valerie Monaco in the end zone. This made the score 16-0 with 7:51 left in the first quarter.
The Sharks scored again early in the second quarter. After the defense was able to push the Blitz backwards, Montreal was forced to punt from their goal line. It was an opportunity that New York rarely passes on. The Sharks returned the ball back to Montreal’s 12 yard line and after a 7 yard Leon rush to her right, she followed with a run up the middle for the Sharks’ third touchdown of the day. Liz Presto caught the 2 point conversion pass from Halesworth to boost the lead to 24-0 with 12:05 left in the half.
The rest of the second quarter become the Missy Marmorale show. With the Blitz not going anywhere with their running game, they tried to open it up a bit with the pass. But with the passing game, you need to give your quarterback some time to find her open receivers. Marmorale didn’t give the Blitz quarterbacks Saadia Ashraf and Nancy Hamel anytime as she continually busted through the line to greet the Canadian players face to face. To add insult to injury, Marmorale as running back scored on a 16 yard scamper up the middle just after the two-minute warning. The 2 point conversion attempt failed but the score was now 30-0. To put the icing on the cake Marmorale had her fourth and last sack of the quarter just as the half ended.
As the day unfolded, the skies cleared and the sun shone brightly with the temperature in the mid-60’s. It was a gorgeous day to enjoy the New York outdoors, unless you were the Blitz. The second half got no better for Montreal. Even though they are in their second season, they have a new head coach Ron Legault and are still learning his system. The Sharks defense continued to stop the Blitz but were now starting to dominate the visitors. The Sharks stopped two Montreal possessions with turnovers. Right after the Sharks kicked off to start the third quarter, they got the ball back on a Chrissy Hilla interception. When Montreal got the ball back again, the defense pushed the Blitz back and forced them to fumble on their own 4 yard line. Marmorale was around to recover the ball and one play later, Leon ran it in to make the score 36-0. The Sharks failed on the 2 point conversion with 9:03 left in the third quarter.
Possibly the highlight of the game for the Blitz was a 47 yard punt, that pushed the Sharks back to their own 19 yard line. But any optimism was short-lived as the Sharks started a 9 play touchdown drive with the key plays being a two 20+ yard passes from Halesworth to Monaco. New York scoring on the second pass at 14:55 in the fourth quarter. The Sharks added 2 more points on the conversion after a catch by Jennifer Blum from Halesworth to make the score 44-0.
The Sharks ended their scoring after linebacker Hilla batted a Blitz pass and caught the ball for her second interception of the game. She then returned the ball to Montreal’s 12 yard line. Andra Douglas came into the game as quarterback and handed it off to Eaton who scored not only the touchdown but also on the 2 point conversion. That made the score 52-0 with 12:28 left in the game.
New York’s defense just took over the rest of the game as Hilla caused a fumble on the next Montreal possession and later Monica Marsh grabbed an interception on the very last play of the game.
There might have been some question marks with all of the rookie starting on the offensive line before the game started, but they were quickly dispelled today. The Sharks looked strong as usual as both offense and defense clicked. New York punished their opponents with the same ferocity as last year.
After the game, head coach Nick Giannatasio congratulated his team on a job well done. He gave out a game ball to the defense for their first shut out of the season and the team’s 6th shutout under Giannatasio. The defense also did not give up a first down to Montreal for the whole game. Game balls were also given out to Marmorale and Marsh for their sparkling play, though he did mention that there were plenty of other players who were as deserving.
This was a history making game as it was the first time the Sharks have broadcasted the game over the Internet. Announcers Michael Artsis and Joseph Marcus provided the play-by-play.
The Sharks will take their 15 game winning streak to the City of Brotherly Love as they take on the Philadelphia Liberty Belles. The Liberty Belles are former champions from 2001 and this game should be a tough test for the Shark rookies. The game will begin at 7pm on Saturday, April 19th.
NY – (12:54) Eaton 7 yard pass from Halesworth (Monaco pass from Halesworth)
NY – (07:51) Halesworth 1 yard run (Monaco pass from Halesworth)
NY – (12:05) Leon 7 yard run (Presto pass from Halesworth)
NY – (01:55) Marmorale 16 yard run (pass failed)
NY – (09:03) Leon 4 yard run (pass failed)
NY – (14:55) Monaco 24 yard pass from Halesworth (Blum pass from Halesworth)
NY – (12:28) Eaton 12 yard run (Eaton run)