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Women’s Interhall Football: The Chaos are one step closer

James Fegan, Greg Arbogast, Catherine Kane and Drew Fontanarosa | Monday, November 7, 2005

Cavanaugh quarterback Lisa Ruffer’s pass sailed through the cold November air into the waiting arms of her receiver, who shed a tackle and streaked down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown, providing Cavanaugh with an important score on its opening drive of a 14-0 victory over Badin.

With icy winds blowing through McGlinn fields all afternoon, both offenses were as cold as the weather and were unable to sustain any drives most of the day. Cavanaugh struggled offensively, but capitalized on a few big pass plays for scores. After passing for a score on Cavanaugh’s initial drive, Ruffer completed a 25-yard pass to get into the Badin red zone, and capitalized on the opportunity with a 5-yard touchdown pass right before the end of the first half.

Other than those outbursts, both offenses were subdued by stout defense and bitterly cold weather.

“We really had trouble throwing the ball with the cold weather,” Badin coach Chris Paley said.

Indeed, Badin quarterback Katie Rose Hackney went just 10-of-27 passing for 91 yards, with most of her completions coming on short screen passes. Other than her big plays, Lisa Ruffer wasn’t much better. She completed just 8-of-26 passes for 122 yards and, most importantly, two touchdowns.

Cavanaugh’s defense carried the day again, shutting down any type of vertical passing game Badin could hope for. Badin had success with wide receiver screens early in the game, but turned away from that strategy and didn’t return to it until it was too late.

Cavanaugh provided some effective pressure and recorded two sacks in the game.

“That’s why [Cavanaugh is] the No. 1 seed,” Paley said.

Cavanaugh moves on to the next round of the playoffs as its defense recorded yet another shutout. Badin’s season ends with a 1-5-1 record.

They have an opportunity to improve along with their young quarterback Katie Rose Hackney, but were outgunned against an experienced, athletic Cavanaugh squad.

PW 6, McGlinn 0

It took overtime, but Cara Davies’ 16-yard touchdown pass to Maureen Spring in the first overtime period finally broke the scoreless streak between McGlinn and Pasquerilla West, giving the Weasels a 6-0 victory. Counting their matchup in the regular season, Spring’s touchdown was the first points scored in over eight quarters between the two teams.

As PW got the ball first in overtime, it still had to stop the Shamrock offense one last time.

It looked like McGlinn might tie the game as it moved the ball to the four-yard line of PW, but an interception by Heather Van Hoegarden – PW’s third of the game – sealed the deal, sending the Weasels through to the second round of the playoffs.

“I lined up on the goal line, because I didn’t want anyone behind me,” she said. “I just read the quarterback’s eyes and, luckily, I caught it.”

While it was Van Hoegarden’s interception that ended the game, it was the effort of the entire PW defense that gave the Weasels the victory.

McGlinn threatened multiple times near the end of the game, but PW rose to the occasion each time. First, McGlinn moved the ball to the PW 11, but the Weasel defense forced four straight incompletions. Then, with less than a minute left in the game, PW intercepted McGlinn quarterback Becky Brown in the end zone, sending the game into overtime.

“Our defense always seems to rise to the occasion, and they really gave our team a spark today,” Van Hoegarden said.

McGlinn captain Bridget Meacham, however, attributed the Shamrock’s inability to score to a different reason.

“I think it was a mental thing,” she said. “We hadn’t scored in two games, and I think we just psyched ourselves out.”

With its win, PW advances to the second round for the first time in the past few years, where and they will be underdogs against No. 1 seed Cavanaugh.

Van Hoegarden, however, likes her team’s position.

“We’re going to play our game, which is defense,” she said. “We’re going to be heavy underdogs, but we like flying under the radar.”

Pangborn 14, Welsh Family 0

Welsh Family and Pangborn met for the second time on Sunday, as their first matchup of the season ended in a 14-0 Pangborn victory over the Whirlwinds. Pangborn came with confidence from its win, while Welsh brought determination to continue its season into the semifinals. But the Whirlwinds came up short in a 12-6 loss, while the Phoxes advanced to the next round of the playoffs.

The Phoxes were able to score in the first half, as Brynn Johnson effectively ran the ball up the field with shovel passes from the quarterback.

Both teams threatened the end zone a couple times during the first half, Welsh with more of a passing offense, while Pangborn executed a rushing attack. However, the defenses were able to stop anything that came close. Welsh’s Katie Rehberger had an interception, but nothing was fruitful until Pangborn finally threw a long pass and receiver Katie Riemersma caught it in the end zone.

The Whirlwinds were able to stop the one-point conversion play. However, they were unable to answer the touchdown, and at halftime, the Phoxes led the game 6-0.

In the beginning of the second half, Welsh moved the ball down the field with some spectacular passes by quarterback Melissa Sands. They were able to move the ball to the 15-yard line, until a penalty moved them up to the 10-yard line. Sands then connected with Kelly Bushelle to tie the game. However, the Phoxes also prevented Welsh from scoring the extra point as the score knotted at 6-6.

Yet the Phoxes were able to pull out one more touchdown with only six minutes left in the game. Again Riemersma made the catch in the end zone, and again Welsh was able to prevent the point after. And although it came close, Welsh ran out of time to answer, throwing an interception in its final drive, which ended the game.

“Our playing was sloppy; though we’re happy about the win, we realize this was not our best game,” Pangborn captain Katie Murray said. “Next week for Walsh, we need to be playing much better than today.”

Welsh Family players were disappointed about their loss, especially their seniors and captain Sarah Skrabacz.

“It is hard for me to think of things to say right now, because I am sad that the season is over and that it was my last game,” she said.

But as the score showed, Welsh put up a much tougher fight in this second meeting.

“This time around with Welsh Family, we definitely had more trouble than our regular-season game,” Murray said. “I think our play was different more than theirs, we dropped some balls we shouldn’t have and missed some tackles we shouldn’t have.”

Kelly Bushelle, although sad, was a little more optimistic about Welsh’s season.

“We all put our hearts into every game,” she said. “We had a lot of fun this season and will miss the seniors. Although we didn’t get as far as we had hoped, we will be ready next year.”

Murray expressed Pangborn’s excitement about the team’s win.

“I think the general feeling on the team is confidence going into the semis,” she said. “We’re really excited and cannot wait to get at Walsh next week.”

Walsh 7, Lewis 0

On Walsh’s first drive of the second half in its quarterfinal against Lewis, quarterback Mary Claire Sullivan hit wideout Marie Brenner for the Wild Women’s only touchdown.

That was all the scoring Walsh would need as its defense held Lewis scoreless for a 7-0 shutout victory.

“We weren’t ever worried,” co captain Patty Rose said. “We have faith in our defense.”

Judging by the game’s statistics, Walsh’s conviction is warranted. On eight drives, Lewis managed only five first downs, and Chicks quarterback Elias Valdez completed only seven of 28 passes, was intercepted once and was continuously harassed and hurried all game.

Lewis’ last attempt to score was a failed Hail Mary that ended the game. That, along with Walsh’s winning drive, provided the second half’s only excitement.

It was also a half marred by a violent head-on collision between a Walsh defensive back and Lewis receiver Katy Clune.

Clune lay on the field for several agonizing minutes and emergency personnel were called to the scene. To applause from both sides, Clune was helped off the field, and fortunately, nothing seemed to indicate the injury was severe.

“I would call [Clune] our ‘star’ receiver, but [her injury] wasn’t something we could let hurt our morale,” Lewis co-captain Julia Burke said. “And though this is really secondary, I do wish we would have had her height for the Hail Mary.”

The first half was much like the second. After both teams’ opening drives were halted near the goal line, neither team gained as much as a first down for the rest of the half.

“It was how we expected it to be out there, intense,” Walsh co-captain Mary Ellen Botta said.

While Lewis was disappointed in the outcome, it couldn’t find much fault with its performance.

“We really did have a pretty good defensive performance,” co-captain Kara Bailey said. Joslyn Moya, another Lewis captain, summarized the Chicks’ season.

“While it ended too soon, we enjoyed it right down to the last minute,” she said.

Walsh, the 2004 women’s interhall champions, is now one step closer to defending its title.

On to the semifinals, the Wild Women will face Pangborn in the next round.

Botta is confident, however, that the semifinals are not the only thing her team is awaiting.

“We’re also looking very forward to the Stadium,” she said.