Monthly Archives: February 2009

New York Sharks 33 @ Philadelphia Firebirds 14

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 25, 2009
After a rough loss last week, the New York Sharks (2-1) were looking to rebound back into the win column. They were playing division rival Philadelphia Firebirds (1-2) in Pennsylvania. The Sharks could ill afford another loss to a division foe with the backend of their schedule being one of the most difficult in the league.

It was overcast during the day but the skies had cleared by gametime. The temperature was in the mid-60’s when the Sharks won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball.

The Sharks started their drive not in very good field position from their own 19-yard line. But they soon started to rectify that as runs by Lisa Doran, Mandy Oppel, and Lauren Pringle moved the ball all the way down to the Philadelphia 8 yard line. But two penalties for illegal use of hands and illegal procedure pushed the Sharks back and they could not score.

The Sharks defense stopped the Firebirds cold and forced them to punt after 3 plays. This time New York started in excellent field position at the Philadelphia 33-yard line. Again they were hampered with 2 penalties that pushed them back, but this time Karen Mulligan used her arm to lead the Sharks to the promised land. Catches of 19 and 17 yards by Pringle and a 9 yard grab by Jen Blum took the Sharks to the Firebirds’ 2-yard line. Then going to the ground, Blessing Withers blasted her way through for the touchdown. Pringle’s extra point attempt was short but New York had the early lead 6-0 with 5:06 left in the first quarter.

The Sharks defense continued to play strong. The big play was a Fatima Carvey sack of Philadelphia quarterback Pam Downey for a 9 yard loss. On the subsequent punt, New York’s Chante Bonds returned the kick for 56 yards into the endzone but another penalty on the Sharks called it back.

The Firebirds next possession was stopped by an interception by Toni Salvatore. This gave the Sharks the ball on their own 30-yard line. Mulligan led her crew down the field with a balanced blend of pass and running plays. Withers then smashed her way into the endzone on a 11 yard run. She broke 4 tackles, but it ended up all for naught as another New York Penalty called it back. The Sharks were able to get the ball down to the Firebirds’ 2-yard line, but disaster struck when Mulligan rolled to her right. She then pitched the ball back to a trailing Oppel who could not handle the ball and Philadelphia recovered.

With the first half coming to an end, the Firebirds mysteriously ran the ball 6 times. They were moving the ball but with less than 7 seconds left, they were only up to their own 29-yard line. On the last play of the half, Downey threw deep and found Amanda Murphy with 2 Shark defenders on her. She caught the ball and ran down the left sideline but was just barely forced out of bounds at the New York 19-yard line to end the half. If she was able to stay in bounds she would have scored. Though the Sharks had played fairly well in the first half, penalties and turnovers hurt their chances and they only led Philadelphia by 6 points.

The second half for the Sharks started off well. New York kicked off the ball to start the third quarter. The ball bounced over the Firebirds player and by the time she recovered it, she was tackled at her own 17-yard line. A sack by Carvey and Tia Hopkins pushed Philadelphia back further to their own 10-yard line. Downey then went to the air only to be picked off by Jay Dantzler and returned the ball to the Firebirds’ 34-yard line.

Mulligan went to the air on this drive and the Sharks scored their second touchdown of the game. The scoring strike came on a 13 yard pass to Oppel. Pringle missed the extra point after the ball was pushed back after another Sharks penalty. New York’s lead was now 12-0 with 10:55 left to go in the third quarter.

Following behind, Philadelphia went to the air. They started to make some progress and got as far as the New York 17-yard line before Oppel intercepted a Downey pass and returned it all the way to the Philadelphia 32-yard line. Mullgian then converted the turnover into a touchdown with a 37-yard strike to Adrienne Smith. The Sharks successfully converted the 2-point conversion on a short pass play to Withers. This made the score 20-0.

It started to look like New York was going to run away with it, but early in the fourth quarter, Philadelphia was able to get on the board. They started having success moving the ball in the air. Helped with a 20-yard pass interference penalty, Philadelphia scored when Downey connected with Thomas on a 9 yard pass play. Laura O’Malley kicked the extra point to make the score 20-7 with 12:29 left in the game.

It didn’t take long for New York to get that touchdown back. After the kickoff, Mulligan hit Pringle with a 70 yard touchdown pass. The 2 point conversion failed when the pass was intercepted. Still the Sharks had a commanding 26-7 lead.

New York added one more score after McKinney picked off Downey for an interception. Mulligan again quickly turned it into a touchdown when she found Bonds streaking up the middle of the field. Bonds then ran into the endzone, breaking 2 tackles along the way. Pringle kicked the extra point and the Sharks now led 33-7 with 9:05 left in the game.

The Firebirds were now forced to pass on every down. Downey going with a steady stream of short passes to Murphy was successful enough to get Philadelphia back on the board. The scoring play was a 16-yard completion to Murphy. O’Malley kicked the extra point and the Firebirds were now down 33-14 with only 5:37 left in the game.

Though the game was out of hand, Philadelphia did not give up. On their next possession they went to the same formula of short passes to Murphy. This time it ended when McKinney picked up her second interception of the game.

The Sharks got back on the winning track with a stellar performance by Mulligan. She threw for 262 yards and 4 touchdowns. It was also good enough for her to be named the POWERADE ZERO Player of the Week. Still the score seemed a lot closer than the game would appear. New York dominated most of the game but was hurt with too many penalties of which two of them led to touchdowns being called back.

The Sharks head for home next week to host the Connecticut Crushers (0-3). Game time is 3:30pm (EDT) at Aviator Sports Complex. If you cannot make it to the park, you can follow the game with Pat Brown and Dave Maxwell describe all the hard hitting action on WFNradio.

1 2 3 4 Final
New York Sharks 6 0 14 13 33
Philadelphia Firebirds 0 0 0 14 14

Scoring Summary
First Quarter
NY – (10:55) Withers 2 yard run (kick failed)

Third Quarter
NY – (10:55) Oppel 13 yard pass from Mulligan (kick failed)
NY – (07:21) Smith 37 yard pass from Mulligan (Withers run)

Fourth Quarter
PH – (12:29) Thomas 9 yard pass from Downey (O’Malley kick)
NY – (11:30) Pringle 70 yard pass from Mulligan (pass failed)
NY – (09:05) Bonds 40 yard pass from Mulligan (Pringle kick)
PH – (05:37) Murphy 16 yard pass from Downey (O’Malley kick)