Monthly Archives: May 2004
East Providence, Rhode Island, June 5, 2004
The New York Sharks (7-0) had already clinched a spot in the playoffs but they were now playing for home field advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. A victory over the Rhode Island Intensity (3-4) would clinch the #1 seed for New York.
When the Sharks left by bus on Saturday morning it was starting to rain in New York City. The forecast was for the rain clouds to follow the team up the coast to Rhode Island. But somewhere in Connecticut the team ditched the storm and it didn’t rain on the Sharks’ parade that day.
The game started off with the Intensity winning the coin toss and electing to receive. They then proceeded to give the ball to their main offensive weapon Maria Figueras. Figueras is not only the team’s top rusher but also the leading scorer. Continually giving the ball to Figueras the Intensity was able to slowly move the ball in to Sharks’ 40-yard line. Then Rhode Island quarterback Chrystal Alcock faked a handoff to Figueras but it didn’t fool Sharks Chantal “Green” Bauer and Rose Addison. They both made a bee line to Alcock in the backfield. Feeling the pressure, the quarterback tried to throw the ball away but it went backwards for a fumble. Addison scooped up the ball at the Intensity 47-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown. Nikki Gwinnett kicked the extra point and the Sharks had the early lead 7-0 with 11:29 left in the first quarter.
The Sharks defense came up big again on the next Rhode Island series. The Intensity had just crossed into New York territory when they tried to go to the air. Alcock looked toward the sidelines to throw a short pass, but Michelle Brown went leaping into the air to pick off the pass and gave the Sharks the ball on the Intensity 44-yard line.
By mixing up the play calling and using all weapons available to her, quarterback Val Halesworth led the Sharks in for another touchdown on 14 plays. It was a nice methodical drive, the touchdown being scored on a 1 yard pass to Karen Mulligan with 51 seconds left in the quarter. New York faked the extra point kick and holder Halesworth hit long snapper Beth Nugent in the endzone for 2 points. This extended New York’s lead to 15-0.
The Sharks got on the scoreboard again early in the second quarter. This time it was done in spectacular fashion. Starting from Rhode Island’s 45-yard line, Halesworth saw receiver Kathy Holloman get a step on her defender. Halesworth’s pass just glanced off the finger tips of Holloman. If she was able to catch it, she would have ran in for the Sharks’ third touchdown of the day. It was a bullet that Rhode Island was able to dodge, but only temporarily. Three plays later, Halesworth threw a short sideline pass to last year’s Sharks rookie of the year Teresa Schirrippa. Schirrippa was starting her first game of the season for New York after missing the first 5 games due to attending her first year of college. Using her speed, Schirrippa caught the ball and ran right down the left side of the field for a 41-yard touchdown run. Gwinnett kicked the extra point to make the score 21-0 with 12:21 left in the second quarter of the game.
The Sharks were very opportunistic during the game. Four times, Rhode Island turned the ball over, and three times the Sharks was able to convert them into touchdowns. It didn’t take long for New York to strike again. Alcock was victimized again, this time by linebacker Shauntay Stewart. Stewart picked off the pass at the Intensity 25-yard line and returned it to the 22-yard line. With the ball back in the hands of the offense, they just put the ball in to Shirrippa’s hands. She ran down the left sideline for her second touchdown of the day. Gwinnett then split the uprights for the extra point and it was now 28-0 with 9:21 left in the half.
The rout was in process and it continued on the very next New York drive. After a Rhode Island punt, the Sharks were firmly entrenched in their side of the field at the New York 33-yard line. At this point, the Sharks started to move players around. Schirripa was moved to receiver and Missy Marmorale came in as running back. Using the power running game, the Sharks scored again. This time it was on a 38-yard run by Marmorale. Gwinnett kicked the extra point and the lead was now 35-0 with 3:36 left in the half.
The Sharks are a team that prides itself on defense. This year they have 3 shutouts and they were looking for another one. But sometimes to get a shutout, you have to be good and a little lucky. On Rhode Island’s last drive of the half, the Intensity got a little luck. The Sharks had just stopped Rhode Island on 3 plays and forced them to punt with less than 2 minutes left in the half. But on the punt, the ball was fumbled by Lori DeVivio and the Intensity recovered the ball on the Sharks’ 34-yard line. Even with the reprieve it didn’t look like Rhode Island would be able to do anything after 2 consecutive incomplete passes. But the third time was the charm as the new Rhode Island quarterback Laruen Manfred saw wide receiver Stephanie Samuelson get behind the Sharks’ secondary and hit her target in stride at the 17-yard line. Samuelson then raced the rest of the way into the endzone untouched to get Rhode Island on the board. The Intensity went for the 2-point conversion and was successful on a Tracy Gauthier run. This made the score 35-8 in favor of New York with only 13 seconds left in the half.
New York received the kickoff to begin the second half and the Sharks offense kept on humming along. Starting on their own 26-yard line, New York started an 8 drive play. The big play was a 28-yard pass completion to Karen Mulligan who then got another 10 yards added on after a face mask penalty. The touchdown was scored on a short 5 yard pass to Holloman that made the score 41-9 with 11:50 left to go in the third quarter.
The Intensity are an exhibition team this year in the IWFL and want to prove to everyone that they deserve to become a full-fledged member of the league. They are one of the few exhibition teams this year with 3 or more wins and they wanted to show that they can play with the Sharks. So while New York started to freely substitute its players to get rookies and backup players some playing time, Rhode Island kept their first string out there. At first it looked like even New York’s second team would be able to keep the Intensity under control. Especially after a punt by Gwinnett pinned Rhode Island all the way back to their own 1-yard line in the fourth quarter.
But it was here that the Intensity made their statement. Going to a running attack based on brute strength, they were able to push the Sharks defensive line backwards a few yards each time. Rhode Island did not make any really big runs but kept getting gains of 3, 4, 5 and 7 yards each time and moving the chains. They were able to move the ball all the way down to New York’s 17-yard line when the Sharks defense tried to make their stand. On two consecutive plays, New York sacked the Rhode Island quarterback to make it a third down and 22 yards to go situation. Manfred dropped back into the pocket and heaved the ball downfield. Receiver Ryann Archer leaped into the air and caught the ball between two New York defenders on the 7-yard line for a clutch Intensity first down.
Rhode Island had a great opportunity to score with a first down on the Sharks’ 7-yard line but time was running out fast. The two-minute had already been given so the Intensity put the ball into their main weapon. Figueras got the handoff on the very next play and punched it in for a touchdown. She then got the ball again to score the two-point conversion. That made the score 41-16 with only 1:56 left in the game. The touchdown really didn’t matter in the outcome of the game, but it was a big morale booster for the Intensity to sustain a 17-play, 99 yard drive.
Game balls were given to Bauer for her defensive play and Gwinnett got the offensive game ball for kicking 3 of 4 extra points in a pinch-hitting role.
With the win, the Sharks have clinched the home field advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. They will host the Chicago Force on June 26th in the first round of the playoffs. Tickets are on-sale now.
The Sharks travel back to New England for their next game. They will take on the Bay State Warriors on Saturday, June 12th at 6pm. If you can’t join the team, you can hear all the exciting football action on our flagship radio station, KEDU-FM.
|New York Sharks||15||20||6||0||41|
|Rhode Island Intensity||0||8||0||8||16|
NY – (11:29) Addison 47 yard fumble return (Gwinnett kick)
NY – (00:51) Mulligan 1 yard pass from Halesworth (Nugent pass from Halesworth)
NY – (12:21) Schirrippa 41 yard pass from Halesworth (kick failed)
NY – (09:21) Schirrippa 22 yard run (Gwinnett kick)
NY – (03:36) Marmorale 38 yard run (Gwinnett kick)
RI – (00:13) Samuelson 29 yard pass from Manfred (T. Gautier run)
NY – (07:48) Mulligan 17 yard pass from Halesworth (run failed)
RI – (01:56) Figueras 7 yard run (Figueras run)