Monthly Archives: July 2008
Brooklyn, New York, June 7, 2008
A heat wave had started to hit the Middle Atlantic States as the New York Sharks (5-2) tried to stop their longest losing streak in history. Breaking the 2 game skid would be no easy task with the scorching weather and the fact they would be playing the D.C. Divas (4-3), a team they have yet to beat. Game time temperatures were in the low 90’s but the usual strong breeze from Jamaica Bay made it a bit more tolerable.
The Sharks lost the coin toss for the 6th time in 7 games played this year. D.C. elected to receive and things did not start off well for New York as their special teams play gave up a big return by Crystal Anyanwu to the Sharks 47-yard line. But the New York defense came up big as they did throughout the game, stopping the Divas in 3 plays and forcing them to punt.
Starting from their own 30-yard line the Sharks marched down the field mostly through their air attack. New York was able to get down to the D.C. 1-yard line in 11 plays, the big gainer on a 32-yard pass from Karen Mulligan to
The Sharks had missed out on a golden opportunity to take the early lead but their defense helped bail them out. Starting from deep in their own endzone, the Divas stuck to the ground to pick up a first down at their own 20-yard line. Trying to mix things up, they went to the air for the first time in the game and Sharks’ defensive back Toni Salvatore picked off quarterback Allyson Hamlin‘s pass and returned it to the 9-yard line.
With a second chance, Mulligan wasted little time to take advantage of the turnover and she hit wide receiver Brooke McKinney for the score on the very next play. Megan Antonucci‘s kick went wide to the right, but New York had a 6-0 lead with 3:41 left in the first quarter.
On the Divas’ next possession, the Sharks defense continued to control the visitor’s running attack. Again trying to go to the air, Hamlin found her favorite target again, Salvatore who got her second interception of the season. The Sharks got the ball on their won 46-yard line but this time they could not cash in on the turnover.
As the second quarter started, the Divas’ offense started to pull it together. Hamlin threw a swing pass to Tara Stephenson for nice 16-yard gain. They again went to Stephenson but this time by putting her in motion and Hamlin handing the ball to her. She ran down the right side of the field breaking tackles to pick up 24-yards. D.C. then turned to the power game and handing the ball off to running back Tiffany Matthews. She bulldozed her way in 3 carriers to the Sharks 13-yard line. D.C. was in the redzone but a bad snap to Hamlin and the ball moved back 10-yards. An incomplete pass and a running play that lost a yard and the Divas were moving the wrong way with a 4th down play coming up. Hamlin dropped back and somehow connected with Stephenson with 2 Shark defenders around her for a completion at the New York 4-yard line. It was a big gain, but 1 yard short of a first down and New York got the ball back on a turnover of downs.
The Sharks had dodged a bullet but it was very short lived. Mulligan dropped back into the endzone looking for an open receiver, her throw was short and Latisha Perry-Guinn picked off the pass and ran it back into the endzone to tie the game up with 7:06 left in the first half. The Divas rarely kick the extra point and this time was no exception as they went for the 2-point conversion. They succeeded when Matthews ran the ball in to give the Divas the lead.
With the Sharks running game not gaining any momentum, the Divas put the pressure on New York by blitzing almost every play. Mulligan was getting harrassed and her throws were being hurried. As the first half neared to a close, the Sharks got a scare as Mulligan got hurt rolling her to her right to throw a pass. She sat on the ground for a minute before walking off the field. Adrienne Smith came in to finish the half as quarterback for the Sharks.
In the second half, Mulligan was back in as quarterback but got sacked and caused her to fumble the ball to D.C. at the Sharks 42-yard line. It looked like the Divas were going to be able to add to their lead as Matthews slashed her way into the New York secondary for a 37-yard gain. Smith made a touchdown saving tackle but the ball was resting at the Sharks’ 6-yard line. The last time D.C. got into the red zone, the Sharks defense held and this time was no different. The defensive line was like a stone wall as they stopped the Divas for only 1 yard gains on their next 2 running plays and then stuffed running back Rachelle Pecovsky-Bentley for a 4-yard loss. It was now fourth down and goal to go on the Sharks 8-yard line. It was a passing situation and Hamlin could not find an open receiver. Her throw was almost picked off by Shauntay Stewart but it did not matter as the defense again denied the Divas from scoring.
Still, New York was not out of the woods as the offense could not get a first down and was forced to punt. The Divas had very good field position to start their next drive with the ball on the Sharks 44-yard line. With a nice mix of pass and run plays, the Divas were again in the red zone. They had a first down with the ball on the 1-yard line. Again the defense came up huge as they stopped Pecovsky-Bentley for no gain and then dropped Claudia Hogan for a loss. But before she was taken down to the ground she fumbled the football and the Sharks recovered the ball on their own 6-yard line.
With the help of a pass interference penalty, New York was able to move the ball to midfield before they were forced to punt. Time was running out for New York as the defense again came up big and forced the Divas to punt on a three and out.
Starting in decent field position from their own 46-yard line, the Sharks had only 4 minutes to turn the game around. With the pressure on, Mulligan seemed to get telepathic with Doran. She connected with Doran 3 straight times for completions of 11, 10, and 9 yards move the ball to the D.C. 24-yard line. After 2 incomplete passes it came down to a fourth down and one yard to go with 2 minutes left to go in the game. If the Divas could make the stop, the game would be over. Mulligan lined up in shotgun but then ran to left. She could not get around the corner but fought her way for that one yard to give the Sharks a first down. With a new set of downs available, Mulligan threw her next pass up the middle towards 2 Sharks receivers in the same area. McKinney lept up to make the grab ahead of Smith for a 11-yard gain.
With less than 100 seconds to go in the game, Coach Breschard had Antonucci start to warm-up her kicking leg. The Sharks had never kicked successfully kicked a field goal and now they were on the threshold of having to kick their first one to win the game. But Mulligan had other ideas and hit Doran at the 4-yard line. Doran broke free from her would be tackler and ran the ball in for the touchdown. It was Doran’s fourth reception of the drive and it put the Sharks back in the lead, 12-8. The Sharks went for the 2-point conversion and Mulligan threw a pass to Rodriguez give New York a 6-point advantage with only 1:23 left to go in the game.
The Divas were not going to go down without a fight. The Sharks special teams again had trouble as returner Stephenson faked a handoff to the other returner and ran the ball all the way back to the New York 48-yard line. Time was not on the Divas side and they only had 1 timeout left. Hamlin was able to make a few pass completions to move the ball to the Sharks 27-yard line, but McKinney picked off the last pass of the game to seal the Sharks victgory.
It was a satisfying win for the Sharks as they finally able to beat the D.C. Divas for the first time in their history. But the New York defense also played solidly when the Divas got into the red zone. Three times the visitors made it into the Sharks’ red zone but each time they came away with nothing. The Sharks offensive line also played huge in the later parts of the game. With the Divas constantly putting pressure on Mulligan, they came together in the final drive to give her enough time to find her receivers.
NBC Sports was in attendance at the game. They did a 2-part feature on the Sharks which can be seen here.
The Sharks will hit the road to play their final game of the regular season. They will be taking on the Central PA Vipers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Kick off time is 5:00pm (EDT). New York will need a victory and a blow out win by the Wisconsin Warriors over the Detroit Demolition to have a chance to get to the playoffs. If you can’t make it to the Keystone State, you can still follow all of the hard hitting football as Pat Brown and Dave Maxwell will describe all of the action live to you on the official flagship station for New York Sharks Football, www.blogtalkradio.com/wfnradio – the Women’s Football Network.
|D. C. Divas||0||8||0||0||8|
|New York Sharks||6||0||0||8||14|
NY – (03:38) McKinney 9 yard pass from Mulligan (kick failed)
DC – (07:06) Perry-Guinn 22 yard interception return (Mathews run)
NY – (01:23) Doran 12 yard pass from Mulligan (Rodriguez reception from Mulligan)