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Interhall Insider: Purple Weasel defense takes team back to the stadium

Colin Reimer | Friday, November 17, 2006

“Offense sells tickets; defense wins games.”

No matter what worn-out clich̩ you use, the message is always the same Рa successful team or program is always predicated on a solid defense.

That is why it comes as no surprise that the primary reason Pasquerilla West has an opportunity to defend its Women’s Interhall championship is its smothering defense.

The Purple Weasels have shut out three opponents this season, including previously undefeated Welsh Family in the semifinals. Pasquerilla West has allowed just 25 points all season, an average of only 4.2 points in six games.

“We pride ourselves on shutouts and goal line stands,” Pasquerilla West cornerback Annie Brusky said.

Pasquerilla West also understands that at this point in the season, defense is essential in winning games because it sets up the offense.

“The defense this season is what ignites our offense,” Pasquerilla West captain Mo Spring said. “They get our field position.”

The Pasquerilla West defensive unit has been quite efficient this year in setting up their offense for easy scores. But with the lockdown cornerback Brusky and ball-hawking safety Brigid Bulfin patrolling the secondary, it’s a rarity when the Purple Weasels get the ball in their own territory.

This tough secondary is hugely important for Pasquerilla West since teams are much more likely to have passing attacks in the women’s league.

“You know they won’t run the ball, because you don’t get too far doing that in flag-football,” Spring said. “There are restrictions on blocking, and less contact in general.”

Because of the reliance on the passing game, Pasquerilla West only sends two down-linemen to rush the quarterback – seniors Julie Putnam and Caroline Schmidt.

“We have a lot of intensity, and some great people rushing,” said Brusky of her defensive teammates. “Because they bring so much pressure, the secondary can make big plays. Rushing two people isn’t a problem.”

And while Putnam and Schmidt are busy chasing down the opposition’s quarterback, Spring, Brusky and the rest of the Purple Weasels shift their focus to blanketing receivers.

“We like to be an aggressive defense, and try to dictate the pace of the game,” Spring said. “But it’s all about balance. You don’t want to expose yourself too often, or you’ll get burned.”

In addition to having a strong defensive mentality, the Purple Weasels also have the athleticism needed to make the big play.

“Maureen [Spring] and Brigid [Bulfin] are phenomenal athletes, but we have a balanced team,” Brusky said. “There is not a weakness in our secondary. We can shut anyone down.”

But athleticism and ability are not the only ingredients to a dominant defense. Spring says that the biggest keys to her team’s defensive success are its communication and chemistry.

“We work as a unit,” she said. “Everyone knows their role, and everyone executes.”

Meanwhile, Brusky said that the excellent communication between her players is the result of years of experience.

“Our starting defense is all seniors with the exception of one player, so we’re very familiar with each other’s styles of play.”

Brusky also discussed several underrated fundamentals that are unique to a solid Women’s Interhall defense.

“Flag-pulling is huge. It’s not the most glamorous part, but it’s very important,” Brusky said. “It’s also key to have football smarts. It helps to be able to recognize formations that indicate when a team will run or throw.”

But perhaps the most important factor in the success of the Purple Weasels’ defense is the mentality that they bring to every game.

“We all love the game,” Brusky said. “We all enjoy going out and competing on game day.”