Monthly Archives: November 2009
Schenectady, New York, April 11, 2009
The New York Sharks (1-0) have started each of its previous 10 seasons with a victory, the longest streak in women’s football. Tonight they were going for their 11th straight win, but this one was going to a challenge. Playing on the road is never easy, but the Sharks were facing their division rival, the New York Nemesis (0-1). Last year the Nemesis went undefeated during the regular season and made it as far as the second round of the playoffs. They are led by former Sharks quarterback Val Halesworth and star running back Xiomara Diaz.
It was an overcast sky at the start of the game with temperatures in the low 50’s and gusts of wind around 15mph. Still there was no rain. When the Sharks left New York city by bus that afternoon it was pouring downstate, but 150 miles away the rain was kept away.
The game started with the Sharks kicking off to the Nemesis. Quarterback Karen Mulligan did double-duty by kicking the ball as last year’s place kicker and punter Meghann Antonucci has retired. During their first series, the Nemesis game plan was quickly revealed, have Diaz run the ball and have Halesworth throw to wide receiver Lauren Manfred. It worked for one first down, but the Sharks defense stopped the Nemesis from getting another one in the series.
The Sharks started their first drive of the game in decent field position from their own 39-yard line. With many players not playing this year due to various reasons, it was great to see a few familiar faces coming back after taking last year off. One of those players was Mandy Oppel. She returned this year and was again put into the backfield on offense. Mulligan using 5 different players to either run the ball or throw to marched the visitors down the field for a quick touchdown. The 8-play drive was capped off with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Mulligan to Adrienne Smith to put the downstaters on the scoreboard. Lauren Pringle who had a nice 7-yard run during the drive kicked the extra-point to give the Sharks a 7-0 lead with 4:45 left in the first quarter.
The Sharks quickly got the ball back as the defense was able to stop Diaz and forced the Nemesis to punt after only 4 plays. The Nemesis punt was extremely short and the Sharks had great field position on the Nemesis 29-yard line. Mulligan quickly went to work and found a wide open Lisa Doran in the endzone on the very first play of the drive. Unfortunately the Sharks were penalized for illegal procedure and the touchdown was called back. Compounding the penalty was a bad snap in the shotgun formation that caused a loss of 14 more yards. The Sharks couldn’t recover from those setbacks and turned the ball back to the Nemesis.
Again the Sharks defense was up to the task and forced the Nemesis to punt the ball away with 11 minutes left to go in the half. The rest of the second quarter was basically all New York Sharks except for one big exception. The Sharks ran off 21 straight plays and did not allow the Nemesis to snap the ball even once. The Nemesis did get to touch the ball briefly when L. Manfred intercepted a Mulligan pass at the Nemesis 10-yard line. She returned the ball upfield with a fine run but then tried to get some extra yardage and fumbled the ball back to the Sharks at the Nemesis 37-yard line. With less than 2 minutes left in the half, the Sharks were able to get the ball all the way down to the 1-yard line. Mulligan then ran the ball into the endzone on a quarterback keeper, but the referee called a penalty on the Sharks. The Sharks were hit with an aiding the runner infraction and the touchdown was called back. The 5-yard setback was too much for the Sharks to recoup as time ran out in the half.
It was a pretty good first half for the Sharks. The defense was holding the Nemesis in check by shutting down Diaz and Halesworth. The offense was moving the ball and keeping it away from the Nemesis but they could not add any points to their lead.
In the second half, the Sharks would be receiving to start the half. The Sharks offense started from their own 40-yard line and quickly marched down the field for a touchdown. The big play was a 39-yard pass from Mulligan to Smith. This was Smith’s second touchdown of the day. Pringle kicked the extra point and the Sharks now lead 14-0 with 11:40 left in the third quarter.
The Nemesis made some adjustments in the second half and were soon starting to move the ball better on the Sharks. They did not have anything to show for it in the third quarter, but when the final frame rolled around, the Nemesis started marching down the field. Relying on short passes, Halesworth was able to get the Nemesis on the scoreboard with 8:04 left to go in the game. The snap for the extra point was short, but the Nemesis kicking unit made a nice recovery and was able to kick the ball through the uprights to make the score 14-7.
With the score, the game was becoming very competitive again. But Mulligan took the burden onto her shoulders and marched the Sharks downfield for another score. Again using her strong arm, she connected with Pringle for an 8-yard reception and then hit Doran on a 26-yard bomb in the endzone. Doran made a circus catch as the ball was near the out-of-bounds line. Doran caught the ball, got her feet to stay in-bounds as she fell out of the endzone. Pringle made it a perfect day by hitting her third consecutive extra-point and the Sharks were back ahead by 2 touchdowns, 21-7 with less than 4 minutes left to go in the game.
The Nemesis were not about to give up as Halesworth was forced to go to the air to try and get them back into the game. She connected with Kate Slack for a nice 21-yard gain, but when she went to find Slack again, cornerback Brooke McKinney intercepted the ball to effectively ice the game for the Sharks.
The Sharks came away winning their 11th straight season opener a record in women’s football. It was a good win even though the game was not as close as the score would dictate. Twice the Sharks had touchdowns called back and they had possession of the ball for the majority of the game including 11 straight minutes in the second quarter. What was very impressive in the Sharks win was the performance of the offensive line. None of the starters on tonight’s line were starters last year and half of them weren’t even playing football last year. Hopefully as the year progresses, this nascent o-line will continue to get better and stronger.
After each game, Sharks broadcasters Pat Brown and Dave Maxwell will select a Sharks player to be honored as the POWERADE ZERO Player of the Week. POWERADE ZERO is sponsoring the selection and Smith was chosen to be the first player to receive the honor.
The Sharks will next host the Boston Militia (0-0) at the Aviator Sports Complex on Saturday, April 25th. It will be the Sharks home opener. Game time is 3:30pm (EDT). If you can’t make it to the game, 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.
|New York Sharks||7||0||7||7||21|
|New York Nemesis||0||0||0||7||7|
NY – (04:45) Smith 12 yard pass from Mulligan (Pringle kick)
NY – (11:40) Smith 39 yard pass from Mulligan (Pringle kick)
NYN – (08:04) Diaz 8 yard run (Bepko kick)
NY – (03:28) Doran 26 yard pass from Mulligan (Pringle kick)