Monthly Archives: April 2005
Manchester, New Hampshire, April 30, 2005
The New York Sharks (4-0) travelled up I-95 towards New England for the third time this season as they went up against the Manchester Freedom (1-2). The Freedom have been division rivals with the Sharks from the very beginning of the IWFL. Over the years, they have steadily improved on their record and this season they looked to compete for a playoff position.
It was a very rainy Saturday in New Hampshire when the two teams took the field. Due to the poor weather conditions, Sharks’ head coach Lynn Lewis delayed going to the ballpark until the last minute so the team would not have to stand around in the rain.
With the rain and both teams playing well defensively so far this season, it looked like it could be a defensive battle. And in the early going it was. The Sharks had lost the coin toss and kicked off to Manchester to start the game. The New York defense was in fine form. Historically the Sharks have played Manchester twice and beat them both times with a shut-out in New York. This was the first time the Sharks have played in New Hampshire and despite the rain, the water felt fine. After only 3 plays of which 2 were sacks by Missy Marmorale and Donna Spilotras, the Freedom were forced to punt.
In the early goings, the Sharks have been plagued by mistakes and this game was no diffent. For the third time in only four games, the Sharks turned the ball. This time it was a fumble by Marmorale that was recovered by the Freedom on the New York 48-yard line. Manchester tried to capitalize on the early gift with a 22 yard gain by running back Ange Picard to make it first down on the Sharks’ 27-yard line. But the defense stiffened and with a Wanda Williams sack, the Freedom drive was snuffed out.
The Freedom took an aggressive approach to their defense. They tried to stuff the front line and the New York running attack was going nowhere. Plus with all of the pressure from the linebackers, quarterback Val Halesworth had little time to connect with her receivers. The few times she had some time, the passes were being dropped due to the wet ball.
For most of the first half, the Sharks were unable to move the ball out of their own territory, but the defense was able to keep Manchester at bay. The Freedom came close to a score when kicker Katia Pashkevitch attempted a field goal from the 25-yard line but the kick was blocked.
Starting from their own 25-yard line, the Sharks started to move the ball downfield. Going to a shotgun formation to give Halesworth more time, the Sharks were able to take advantage by tossing footballs into the rain-filled air. They moved to the Freedom 16-yard line but were turned back by Manchester. For the first time in the game, the Freedom were starting their drive deep in their own territory, but it didn’t take too long for things to change.
With the Freedom running game stopped, they tried to go to the air and with disastrous results. Defensive back Lori DeVivio picked off a Kristal Hanley pass at the 28-yard line and returned the ball to the Manchester 20-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Halesworth connected with Jen Blum for a touchdown. The extra point attempt went awry on a bad snap, but New York took the lead with 4:58 left in the first half.
After the ensuing kick-off, the Sharks defense struck again. This time it was Shana Segers who broke through the line and hit Freedom running back Jenna Mills as she was about to take the handoff from Hanley. As the ball bounced off the bodies of the two players, Segers grabbed it and the Sharks had the ball on the Manchester 30-yard line. Still staying to the air attack, Halesworth found DeVivio for a big 19-yard gain and then connected with Blum for a short 4-yarder. With the ball on the Freedom 2-yard line, Halesworth ran it in herself for another New York touchdown. The Sharks were successful for the 2-point conversion when Halesworth hit Blum in the endzone. New York was now ahead 14-0 with 2:56 left in the half.
It did not take long for New York to strike again. After the kick-off, Spilotras recovered a Freedom fumble on Manchester’s 35-yard line. Halesworth threw to DeVivio for a big 25-yard pickup. DeVivo ended up with 3 catches for the day and 63 yards. With the ball resting on the 3-yard line, Halesworth called her own number again and ran it in for the Sharks third touchdown in less than 3 1/2 minutes. Kicker Megan Antonucci kicked the extra-point to make the score 21-0.
Coming out of locker room in the second half, coach Lewis went to her second string. Rookie running back Mandy Oppel showed everyone of things to come as she had a few nice runs in the second half. She ended the day gaining 63 yards on 12 carries. Defensively, the Sharks continued to shut down the Freedom offense.
The Sharks got their last score of the game after another Freedom fumble deep in Manchester territory on the 21-yard line. Halesworth went back in as quarterback and threw to Junko Tanida. Tanida leaped into the air to make the catch in the endzone. Antonucci split the uprights for the final point of the game and the Sharks now led 28-0 with 9:13 left in the game.
The Sharks defense has gotten their second straight shutout and were really the major factor in the victory. Every time the Sharks scored, it was after a defensive take away. Game balls were given to Segers who had a sack and a fumble recovery and to Spilotras who had 4 sacks and a fumble recovery. Overall, the Sharks sacked the Freedom quarterbacks eight times.
The Sharks get a bye week, before they head up to New England for the fourth time but hopefully not the last time this season. They will be travelling to the Ocean State to take on the Rhode Island Intensity on Saturday, May 14th at 2pm. If you cannot make it up to Providence, you can still follow all of the Sharks football action by listening to the game on www.kedu.us.
|New York Sharks||0||21||0||7||28|
NY – (04:58) Blum 20 yard pass from Halesworth (pass failed)
NY – (02:56) Halesworth 2 yard run (Blum pass from Halesworth)
NY – (01:35) Halesworth 3 yard run (Antonucci kick)
NY – (09:13) Junko yard pass from Halesworth (Antonucci kick)
Happy birthday, Beth!
Staten Island, New York, June 4, 2005
For once it was a nice warm sunny day for a home game as the New York Sharks (7-0) took on the Southern Maine Rebels (6-2) in Staten Island. The game had a playoff atmosphere as this game would help determine who would win the North Atlantic division. The Sharks were in first place, but the Rebels were a close second, only 1/2 game behind. Earlier in the season the Sharks easily handled the ladies from Maine, beating them 32-6, but in that game the Rebels played without one of their stars, running back Becky Manson. Since that loss Southern Maine has gone on to win 5 games in a row. The Rebles were feeling confident coming into this game.
The Sharks on the other hand were coming off an ugly win in which they turned the ball over 5 times in the second half to the Bay State Warriors. But with a bye week to help them try and forget that game the Sharks seemed up to the challenge.
The game started with former WNBA New York Liberty star Kym Hampton singing the National Anthem. During the coin toss, Southern Maine won and elected to receive.
All year the Sharks defense has played well and they did so in the first series. They stopped Southern Maine from advancing and forced them to punt. After the punt, the Sharks were in decent field position on the Rebels’ 44-yard line. New York quarterback Val Halesworth showed that her legs are just as dangerous as her arm as she ran the ball twice for a gain of 25 yards. It looked like New York was on track to score but Manson intercepted a Halesworth pass and returned it all the way to the Southern Maine 47-yard line. She might have gone all the way, but Halesworth was able to catch up and push Manson out of bounds.
The New York defense held and the offense quickly got the ball back. Despite the interception, Halesworth went to the air, she connected with Junko Tanida who grabbed the ball after it had been tipped by a Rebel defender. Halesworth than ran for 21 yards to move the ball all the way down to the Southern Maine 18-yard line. But here the offense stalled and gave the Rebels the ball back on a turnover of downs.
The offense was starting to sputter again as the second quarter started. Many a time it is the defense that can spark the offense and it started here. On three consecutive plays, the Sharks’ defense dropped the Rebels for a 2 yard loss each time. On fourth down, Southern Maine punted the ball to give New York the ball on the Rebels’ 42-yard line.
As the Sharks offense came out, there were a few changes made by head coach Lynn Lewis. One was putting in Teresa Schirrippa in as running back. Schirrippa has missed most of the first half of the season finishing up her second year of college. She got into a few plays the previous game but has not been much of a factor this season. That all changed as she was given the ball and bulldozed her way for a 5 yard gain. She then got the ball again and slashed her way for a 10 yard gain. On the third attempt, she got the ball on a pitchout to the right from Halesworth. Schirrippa was immediately met by a Rebel defender behind the line of scrimmage. She quickly broke the tackle and then slipped another tackle before turning on her afterburners and ran in to the endzone for a nifty 24 yard run. Kicker Nikki Gwinnett split the uprights to give the Sharks a 7-0 lead with 8:35 remaining in the second quarter.
Southern Maine tried to get right back in to the game on the ensuing kick-off. Going to the air the Rebels were able to move down the field to the Sharks 13-yard line. But with time running out in the half, the Rebels could not get into the endzone. They almost scored on a halfback option play where Brooke Peters ran to her right and then stopped to throw the ball to Manson in the endzone. Liz “Magic” Presto was covering Manson and was able to use her hand to slap the ball away from its intended target.
The third quarter began with the Sharks receiving the kick-off. Jen Blum returned the kick to the New York 48-yard line. Since it worked so well in the first half, the Sharks continued to give the ball to Schirrippa. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Schirrippa was able to pick up 3 yards. Shauntay Stewart who is coming off pre-season surgery got the ball next and picked up another 3 yards. Halesworth then shifted gears a bit and hit Virginia “Cha Chi” Leon on a slant pattern for a 14-yard gain. Leon was on the receiving end of another 14 yard gain on the next play. The ball was now in the red zone when Halesworth turned the corner for a 7 yard gain. With the ball resting on the Rebels’ 11-yard line, Schirrippa was called and she ran into the endzone with her second touchdown of the day. The kick on the extra point attempt went wide, but the Sharks were now ahead 13-0 with 9:50 left in the third quarter.
New York started to look like they were in the driver’s seat as the defense continued to stone wall the Rebels running attack and the offense was starting to click. Later in the third quarter the Sharks started their drive on their own 31-yard line. Stewart who was playing in her very first game as fullback, rumbled for 14 yards. Halesworth then connected with Blum for a 14-yard air strike. Next Schirrippa touched the ball twice but could only pick up 6 yards. So on a third down play on the the Southern Maine 32-yard line, Halesworth dropped back into the pocket and found a wide-open Courtney Eaton. She hit Eaton with the pass and New York had now extended their lead 19-0. Gwinnett kicked the extra point to now make the score 20-0 with 13:05 left in the game.
After another 3 and out by the Sharks defense, New York got the ball back on a punt. They were able to move the ball to midfield, before the Rebels forced the Sharks to punt. But on the punt, Southern Maine got hit with a roughing the kicker penalty and New York got the ball back. That penalty gave the Sharks the ball on the Rebels 27-yard line and New York quickly made Maine regret their miscue. Schirrippa was given the ball and she turned the corner and ran into the endzone for the touchdown. On the extra point attempt, the snap bounced in front of the holder Halesworth who quickly got up and found an open Lisa Doran in the endzone for 2 more points. With 3:00 left in the game, the Sharks were comfortably ahead 28-0.
The game was out of reach for Southern Maine but they did not quit. They still have a very good chance for the playoffs and they were looking for a morale victory, by at least not being shutout. With two minutes left in the game, quarterback Mariette Harpole went deep and hit Manson for a 65-yard touchdown pass. Southern Maine then went for the 2 point conversion but as Harpole was looking for an open receiver, Leon came in and sacked the quarterback before she could get the pass off. This made the final score 28-6 in favor of the Sharks.
It was an important win for the Sharks as it makes it very difficult for the Rebels to win the North Atlantic division title. The only way that Southern Maine could win the title is for the Sharks to lose the last 3 games of the season and the Rebels have to win their remaining 2 games of the year.
A game ball was given to the defense for their great playing. They held the vaunted Rebels running attack to 35 yards. The offensive game ball went to Teresa Schirrippa. Schirrippa scored 3 touchdowns and ran the ball 9 times for 116 yards. Her three touchdowns were one shy of tying the team record of four touchdowns in a game, held by Schirrippa and Lakisha Grant. Halesworth had a good day too. She completed 7 of 12 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown and also ran for 71 yards on 6 carries.
The Sharks will host the Manchester Freedom next week on Saturday, June 11th. A victory by New York will clinch the North Atlantic title for the Sharks and guarantee them a spot in the playoffs. Kick-off time is 7pm at Monsignor Farrell High School. If you cannot make it to the game, you can still follow all the hard hitting football action. Pat Brown and Dave Maxwell will describe all of the action on our flagship radio station KEDU-FM.
|Southern Maine Rebels||0||0||0||6||6|
|New York Sharks||0||7||6||15||28|
NY – (08:35) Schirrippa 24 yard run (Gwinnett kick)
NY – (09:50) Schirrippa 11 yard run (kick failed)
NY – (13:05) Eaton 32 yard pass from Halesworth (Gwinett kick)
NY – (03:00) Schirrippa 27 yard run (Doran pass from Halesworth)
SM – (02:01) Manson 65 yard pass from Harpole (pass failed)