Monthly Archives: September 2005
Staten Island, New York, July 9, 2005
The Southern Maine Rebels won the IWFL Eastern Conference wildcard by beating everybody they played during the regular season except for the New York Sharks. If they were going to advance in the playoffs, their trip had to go through Staten Island. This was the first time the Rebels had made it to the playoffs while the Sharks were playing in their fifth post-season.
It was a nice summer day with a slight breeze and the temperature in the upper 70’s. The skies had opened up with a downpour and lightning 2 hours before game time, but it only lasted about 15 minutes and played no affect on the game.
New York won the coin toss and they quickly went to work. The leading passer in the IWFL Val Halesworth quickly started to work on the Southern Maine secondary but twice could not connect with her intended target. So with a third down with 10 yards to go, she put the ball in hands of Teresa Schirrippa who picked up 8 yards to take the ball to mid-field. Putting her confidence with the Sharks defense, coach Lynn Lewis gambled to go for the first down play. Southern Maine made the gamble pay off as they were too eager and got hit with an encroachment penalty that gave New York a first down.
Halesworth again went to the air and threw her third incomplete pass in a row. With the air attack sputtering a bit, she again gave the ball to Schirrippa who picked up 6 yards. But what took the Sharks to the playoffs was the passing game and on her fourth attempt she hit Jen Blum for a 16-yard gain and New York was in the Red Zone. Halesworth again tried to pass but could not find an open receiver, she ran the ball for only a 1-yard gain but the Rebels were hit with an illegal contact penalty and the ball was now resting on the Southern Maine 9-yard line. Schirrippa got the next handoff and picked up 4 yards. With only 5 yards to take the early lead, Halesworth connected with Blum and New York put the Rebels in an early hole only 5 minutes into the game.
The Sharks have had trouble with their place kicking game all season and the extra point attempt proved to be extremely costly. The long snap was high and kicker Nikki Gwinnett ran back to retrieve the ball. She quickly scooped it up and ran to her right looking for the endzone. But before she could get there she was hit high and her cleats got caught in the ground and she went down in pain. She left the game in an ambulance.
The Rebels’ offense was now going to get their first chance with the ball. Last year, Chicago was in the same kind of situation as Southern Maine. They were the wildcard team because they had beaten everybody but New York and the Sharks defense was able to stop their powerful running attack. In last season’s wildcard game, Chicago tried to do something different for them and tried to beat New York with the passing game instead of the running game. It didn’t work as New York prevailed 40-0.
New York was expecting Maine to come out throwing as the Rebels high-powered running game was only able to score 12 points against the Sharks in their 2 previous meetings. But head coach Chris Kempton decided to go with what got them there and it seemed to be working. On the legs of running back Brooke Peters, the Rebels quickly picked up 2 first downs and had the ball down to the New York 31-yard line. But there, Southern Maine hurt themselves with an illegal procedure penalty and the Sharks defense was able to clamp down to prevent another first down for the ladies from Down East.
Both defenses started to take over as neither team put together a drive for a score until late in the first half. With the 2-minute warning coming up and the Rebels deep in their own territory, Southern Maine decided to eat as much time as possible to go into the locker room at halftime only 6 points behind. After one play they let the play clock run down to 1 second before calling a timeout. It appeared that coach Kempton did not want to give New York enough time to score again.
But with New York’s passing attack, the Sharks don’t always need a lot of time to score. So after a Rebels’ punt and a nice return by Virginia “Cha Chi” Leon the Sharks had the ball on the Southern Maine 28-yard line. The Rebels’ defense came through on the next play and sacked Halesworth for a 9-yard loss to push New York back to the Rebels’ 37-yard line. But it all didn’t matter as Halesworth hit Blum on the next play for a 37-yard touchdown pass. Liz Presto the Sharks’ third place kicker of the season (Antonucci and Gwinnett both being out due to injuries) came in to kick the extra point but it went wide. Still the Sharks had doubled their lead to 12-0 with 1:51 left in the half.
With their season starting to look like it was slipping away, the Rebels came out firing on their next possession. For the most part of the game, they stuck with their running attack. While Peters and Becky Manson were able to move the ball, they couldn’t do it consistently enough to get into the endzone. Now with the first half about to expire and their season in jeopardy they went to the air. Mariette Harpole went to the air 5 times and she completed 4 passes to move the ball down to the New York 24-yard line. But with time running out her 6th pass was batted down in the end zone by Leon to keep the Rebels off the scoreboard.
The Sharks defense kept the Rebels in check for the rest of the game. Late in the third quarter, Michelle Brown picked off a Harpole pass for a 43-yard touchdown return. It was Brown’s second interception returned for a touchdown this season. On the extra point attempt, the Sharks were called for a penalty for having too many players on the field. With the ball now on the 7-yard line, New York went for the 2-point conversion and Halesworth found Leon in the end zone to make the score 20-0 in favor of New York.
The last score of the game came when the Sharks started the drive on their own 16-yard line. It didn’t start off well as the Rebels were able to stuff Shauntay Stewart for no gain, but then Schirrippa bulldozed her way for a 14-yard gain with another 15 yards tacked on for a face mask penalty. The Sharks were on the move and on the next play Halesworth found a streaking Junko Tanida for a nifty 31-yard gain. Two plays later Halesworth scored on a 7-yard run after she was forced out of the pocket. It made the score 26-0 with 9:30 left in the game.
New York’s defense contined to shut out the Rebels for the rest of the game and the Sharks won their fifth playoff game to advance to the IWFL Eastern Conference Championship game. They will be defending their title against either the Atlanta Xplosion or the Jacksonville Dixie Blues. Their playoff game was postpoined due to inclement weather in Georgia.
After the game, the game balls were given out to Brown for her interception touchdown, but kudos went out to Lakisha Grant who made her presence felt on defense. She was constantly breathing down the neck of the Rebels’ quarterbacks or putting on some big hits for tackles. The offensive game ball went to Blum for her 2 touchdown receptions.
While the Sharks ended the day on a high note as they continue on their journey in the playoffs, there are still quite a few concerns for the team. It looks like they might have lost their second kicker for the season with Gwinnett being hurt but also late in the game, Shana Segers was injured when a player rolled over her leg and she was taken off the field on a stretcher. These are two big impact players whose loss to the team will be felt.
In the next round, the Sharks will host either the Atlanta Xplosion or the Jacksonville Dixie Blues. The game will be played on July 23rd at Monsignor Farrell High School in Staten Island. Kick-off is 7pm. Tickets are available and this year we are offering our 2 cent ticket and tickets for the owner’s box. You can order these on-line in our Bait Shoppe.
If you cannot make it the game, you can still follow all the hard-hitting football action over the Internet. Pat Brown and Dave Maxwell will bring you all of the action on our flagship radio station KEDU-FM.
|Southern Maine Rebels||0||0||0||0||0|
|New York Sharks||6||6||8||6||26|
NY – (10:00) Blum 5 yard pass from Halesworth (run failed)
NY – (01:51) Blum 37 yard pass from Halesworth (kick failed)
NY – (02:34) Brown 39 yard interception return (Leon pass from Halesworth)
NY – (09:30) Halesworth 7 yard run (kick failed)
Medford, Massachusetts, April 9, 2005
Winning 29 games in a row and facing an opponent that you beat last season twice with a combined total score of 80-0, might lead to some complacency. There were a few warning signs, the Bay State Warriors (0-1) under new management and changes in personnel were narrowly defeated by the Chicago Force in Chicago the week before. The Force who had averaged over 35 points a game for 2 season were held to only 12 by the re-vamped Warrior’s defense. But not all signs are clearly marked.
It was a cool evening with temperatures in the low 50’s when the game began. The field was a bit slippery from the soft field due to rains the previous day.
The season began when Sharks quarterback and captain Val Halesworth called heads. The coin toss was tails and Bay State elected to receive the ball. Last year in the season opener, the Sharks kicked off against Atlanta and it was quickly returned for a touchdown. It didn’t happen this time, but the Warriors got a nice return to start the first drive of the game from their own 45-yard line.
The Sharks defense which has been the pride of the team in the past, has a few question marks this year. The defense has been hit with some retirements and injuries and holes are being fitted in with talented but untested rookies. In any case, they passed their first exam, forcing the Warriors to punt after they had moved down to the New York 31-yard line.
After the punt, New York started their first drive of the 2005 season from their own 9-yard line. They were able to get some breathing space by moving the ball up to the 29-yard line but they were then forced to punt. A bad long snap almost proved disasterous as punter Nikki Gwinnett could not kick the ball and was tackled at the Sharks 24-yard line.
Bay State with an excellent opportunity were able to get as close as the 5-yard line before they were hit with a penalty and then a key sack by Lakisha Grant for a 10-yard loss on third down. The Sharks defense prevailed this time and stopped a Bay State score but it was only temporary.
With the ball back in New York hands on the turnover of downs, it didn’t stay there long. Halesworth who was very rusty in the first half threw her first interception of the game to Warrior defensive back Jen Oliveri. Oliveri who had also intercepted a Halesworth pass in the 2003 playoffs returned the ball to the New York 18-yard line. From there Bay State capitalized on the turnover when quarterback Kim Boroyan hit receiver Nicole Rennick for a 12-yard touchdown pass with 6:20 left in the first quarter.
For the second year in a row, the Sharks were starting the season behind in a game, 0-6. The Sharks offense tried to get back on track but they continued to sputter. Halesworth was having trouble finding her receivers and was intercepted a second time by Oliveri in the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, New York went to an old reliable offensive weapon, Missy Marmorale. Starting on their own 42-yard line, Halesworth put the ball into the hands of her running back who bullied her way forward. Five times in a row Marmorale got the ball and the result was the ball now resting on Bay State’s 14-yard line. Sensing that they might be forming a pattern, Halesworth went back to the air and found receiver Liz Presto in the endzone. The pass was low but Presto got down to cradle the ball in her arms as she hit the ground. The extra point was no good, but with 4:49 left in the first half, the Sharks had tied the score 6-6.
Throughout the first half, you could definitely see that the Warriors had improved over last season, but it appeared that the Sharks were rusty, possibly from the long bus trip.
The second half began with the Sharks receiving the kick-off. They returned the ball to their own 45-yard line. Trying to use what was successful in the first half proved not to be effective. Two handoffs to Marmorale produced 0 yards. New Sharks head coach Lynn Lewis was seeing if the Warriors had made any adjustments and it looked like they had. With a long third down and 10-yards to go, Halesworth went to the air. She found receiver Junko Tanida who made a nice leaping catch for 20-yards and more importantly a first down. That play seemed to open things up a bit as the Sharks now alternated between runs by Marmorale and passes by Halesworth. This proved to be effective as the Sharks marched down the field for a touchdown. The score coming on a 1-yard run by Marmorale with 9:58 left in the third quarter. Halesworth then hit Presto in the endzone for the 2-point conversion. This put the Sharks in the lead 14-6.
The momentum was starting to swing to New York and it did in a big way on the very next play. Rookie kicker Megan Antonucci booted the kick-off to Warrior’s Amy Ma. Ma came up on the ball too quickly and it bounced off her shoulder pads. A pile-up ensued and New York’s Presto recovered the football on Bay State’s 40-yard line. After the turnover, the Warriors compiled the problem with a pass interference penalty which moved the ball down to Bay State’s 19-yard line. A pass to Jen Blum and then a 4-yard run by Marmorale and the Sharks were on the board again only 2 minutes after their last score. Blum caught the 2-point conversion pass from Halesworth and the Sharks extended their lead 22-6.
On the following kick-off it was deja-vu all over again. The kick bounced off of Ma’s pads and Presto recovered. After 2 plays, New York had the ball on the 5-yard line. Halesworth who was gaining more and more confidence as she was getting her passing accuracy back, was chased out of the pocket by Bay State. She ran to her right and was heading towards the sideline when she saw Lori DeVivio get open in the endzone. Halesworth quickly delivered the ball and it was another New York touchdown. Gwinnett then split the uprights to give the Sharks a very comfortable 29-12 lead with 6:07 left in the third quarter.
Bay State not taking any chances switched their kick returners around. This time covering the left side of the field was Anthea Warren. Anotonucci’s kick went to the same spot as the last two kicks, but this time Warren was able to handle the kick and promptly returned it for a 74-yard touchdown return. The Warriors missed the extra point but they quickly struck back to make the score 29-12 with 5:53 left in the third quarter. But that was the closest it would get for Bay State.
On New York’s next possession, they combined running plays by Marmorale and passing plays to put the ball in the endzone again. The Sharks last score of the game came at the 7:25 mark of the fourth quarter. On a 9-play drive that began at the Warrior 43-yard line, the Sharks again mixed running plays with passes to Presto and Tanida for the final touchdown.
With the offense hitting on all cylindars in the second half, it should be noted that the defense played tough the whole game. The Sharks held the Bay State offense to less than 100 total yards. It was a nice surprise as the team had lost quite a few veterans due to injuries and positions were being filled in with rookies.
When the game was over, the players dumped a bucket of ice water on head coach Lewis to celebrate her first victory. The defensive game ball went to Grant for her many hard hits and the offensive game ball went to Presto for her touchdown reception but also for her recovery of two fumbles. The final game ball went to DeVivio for her touchdown catch but also for her defensive play in the secondary with two interceptions.
The Sharks travel further north next week to take on the Southern Maine Rebels in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. If you cannot travel with the team to Maine, you can still hear all the exciting football action on our flagship radio station, KEDU-FM.
|New York Sharks||0||6||29||6||41|
|Bay State Warriors||6||0||6||0||12|
BS – (06:20) Renick 12 yard pass from Boroyan (kick failed)
NY – (04:49) Presto 14 yard pass from Halesworth (kick failed)
NY – (09:58) Marmorale 1 yard run (Presto pass from Halesworth)
NY – (07:56) Marmorale 4 yard run (Blum pass from Halesworth)
NY – (06:07) DeVivio 5 yard pass from Halesworth (Gwinnett kick)
BS – (05:53) Warren 74 yard kick-off return (kick failed)
NY – (00:23) Halesworth 2 yard run (kick failed)
NY – (07:25) Halesworth 1 yard run (kick failed)