Monthly Archives: October 2006
Staten Island, New York, June 10, 2006
While the New York Sharks (6-0) had already clinched the Mid Atlantic division, they still had to fight to get the top seed in the playoffs to get them home field advantage. In their way was the Montreal Blitz (2-4), a young, but talented team. The Blitz may not have a winning record but they have been playing tough, losing to both Bay State and Manchester by only 9-0 scores.
It was a nice day out at Staten Island, temperature at game time was in the mid-60’s but there was a strong wind, with gusts going over 20 mph. Because the Sharks would be out of the country on father’s day, they decided to honor the player’s fathers a week earlier at the game. The team also honored Pat Brown, the voice of the New York Sharks for his work up in the broadcast booth for every Sharks game.
The game started off rather differently for New York as they won the coin toss and as usual deferred to the Montreal Blitz. But instead of choosing to receive, they chose to kick off to the Sharks. All season long, New York has kicked the ball to start the game, but this time Montreal tried to play some upmanship and elected to kick.
The Blitz gambit almost paid off as they got a nice bouncing kick down the sideline. Shark returner Adrienne Smith thought the ball might go out of bounds and while she waited for the ball to go out, the Blitz started to close in on her and the ball. Smith finally picked up the ball but was immediately tackled at the New York 10-yard line.
New York was deep in their own territory to start the game, but they quickly got out of the gate on the legs of Yumi Warner. Warner broke free for a nifty 18 yard gain to give the Sharks breathing space. She then picked up another 9 yards to move the ball to the New York 37-yard line. From here the Sharks tried to keep Montreal guessing with a mix of runs by Karen Mulligan and Mandy Oppel and a few pass plays to Junko Tanida and Lisa Doran. After 11 plays, the Sharks were down to the Montreal 14-yard line, but the Blitz defense stiffened and it came down to a third down with the Sharks needing to get the ball down to the 4-yard line for a first down. Coach Vance called Warner’s number and she danced down the right sideline for an 8-yard gain. With New York’s kicker Emily Pelletier not available to play, the Sharks decided to go for the first down instead of the field goal. Needing 2 yards for the first down, the ball went to Warner and she ran up the middle all the way to the endzone, to give New York an early lead. Tiffany Robinson who has been pressed into service as a backup place kicker came in and connected for the extra point to give the Sharks a 7-0 lead with 6:22 remaining in the first quarter.
The Sharks soon struck again. After a nice booming kick by Amber Knighten, the Blitz started their first series of the game from their own 30-yard line. But on the second play from scrimmage, they fumbled the ball and the Oppel recovered it to give New York the ball back on the Montreal 25-yard line.
Mulligan started the drive with a short pass completion to Doran for 6 yards. The Sharks then went back to Warner who picked up 5 yards for a first down. New York went to Warner 3 times in a row, but by now Montreal was keying on the rookie running back and was able to keep her from breaking out for a first down. It was another fourth down play deep in Blitz territory. This time coach Vance went with fullback Vivian Alberty who barreled her way into the endzone for the Sharks second touchdown of the day. Robinson’s kick for the extra point was no good, but the lead had been extended to 13-0 with only 1:56 left in the first quarter.
The Sharks got on the scoreboard again in the middle of the second quarter after a shanked punt by the Montreal Blitz. The ball only went 7 yards past the line of scrimmage giving New York the ball on the Blitz 49-yard line. A pitchout to Warner picked up 19 yards for the Sharks and then Mulligan threw deep. The ball was held up in the air a little bit by the strong wind and it became a jump ball type of play. Tanida leaped high in the air and came down with the ball on the 5-yard line. It was a nice play and it was down in front of her parents who came all the way to Japan to see her play for the first time.
On the next play, Alberty took the handoff and smashed her way up the middle for her second touchdown of the day. Instead of kicking for the extra point, New York went for the 2 point conversion and was successful as Warner ran to her left for the score. The Sharks now led Montreal by the score of 21-0 with 8:38 left in the first half.
Another bad punt in the second quarter led to another Sharks score. New York had the ball on the Blitz 17 yard line and on the first play of the series, Warner rumbled in for the score. It was the second touchdown of the day for Warner but also the 12th of the season for her. That tied the team’s all-time rushing touchdowns in a season with Courtney Eaton and Missy Marmorale.
Before the half ended, New York got one more score. This one came after another Blitz miscue. On the ensuing kick-off, the Blitz watched the ball bounce near the sideline. Instead of picking it up they let it bounce around which gave the Sharks enough time to recover the football on the Montreal 35-yard line.
At first it looked like the mistake would not cost the Blitz as the Sharks got called for a holding penalty and then the Blitz were able to sack Mulligan. But on a fourth down and 10 yards to go from the Montreal 22-yard line, the Blitz almost were able to sack Mulligan again but she scrambled and fought off tacklers to run down the right side of the field. With only one Blitz player in front of her and the first down marker, Mulligan steamrolled the defender to get the first down. It was a hard earned first down and it gave the Sharks the ball a first down on the Montreal 9-yard line. New York picked up their fifth touchdown of the day after Alberty picked up 8 yards and then got the last yard on the next play. Before the start of this season, Alberty had never scored a touchdown, and now she had 3 in one game. Robinson missed the extra point but going into the locker room at half time, the Sharks had a commanding 34-0 lead.
In the first half, Montreal had very little success on offense with the running attack. They were able to get a few first downs by passing and that is what they went with in the second half. Using the shotgun, Blitz quarterback Saadia Ashraf was able to consistently connect with her receiver Alia Palmer as they moved the ball down the field. Montreal was burning the Sharks secondary with short passes and they were able to get the ball down to the New York 5-yard line. Three times teams have gotten to the New York doorstep and had been denied, but the Sharks could not do it this time as Ashraf again hit Palmer at the New York 1-yard line and she then dragged the New York defender into the endzone for the score. Jennifer Robinson then split the uprights for the extra point to put the Blitz on the scoreboard with 5:31 left in the third quarter. It was the first time all season that a team had scored on the Sharks and the defense was a little shaken by the event.
Throughout the rest of the game, Montreal continued to throw on the Sharks with pretty good success but they could not sustain it for another score as the New York defense was able to get into the backfield enough times to stop long drives. Knighten proved to be very effective as she harrassed the quarterback out of the pocket many times.
Still the game was pretty much safe for New York as the Blitz defense could not stop the Sharks offense machine. New York scored again early in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard run by Lisa Kureczka and then on a electrifying 50-yard run by quarterback Smith to end the New York scoring for the day.
It was another good day at the office for the Sharks as Warner keeps re-writing the New York record book. She not only has tied the season record for rushing touchdowns with 12, she also broke the single game record for most yards rushed. Still the offensive game ball went to Alberty for her three touchdowns scored and for some vicious blocks to open up holes for Warner. The defensive game ball went to Knighten who was able to provide enough pressure to keep the Montreal quarterback from hitting her receivers.
The Sharks will next travel up north to Canada to take on the Montreal Blitz in Montreal. The Sharks will have to make some adjustments to stop the Blitz was passing on the New York secondary. But Montreal is going to have to come up with a way to stop the Sharks multiple weapon offense, something that no one this season has been able to do. If you can’t join us in Canada, you can still follow the game as we will be broadcasting the game via a tape delay on our flag-ship station WFNradio.com on Monday at 9pm.
|New York Sharks||13||21||7||12||53|
NY – (06:22) Warner 6 yard run (T. Robinson kick)
NY – (01:56) Alberty 8 yard run (kick failed)
NY – (08:38) Alberty 5 yard run (Warner run)
NY – (05:45) Warner 17 yard run (T. Robinson kick)
NY – (01:25) Alberty 1 yard run (kick failed)
NY – (08:30) Oppel 6 yard run (kick failed)
MO – (05:31) Palmer 5 yard pass from Ashraf (J. Robinson kick)
NY – (13:18) Kureczka 5 yard run (run failed)
NY – (08:47) Smith 50 yard run (kick failed)