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Women’s Interhall: Welsh Family enters playoffs as team to beat

JOHN WHITTY, SAM WERNER, ANDY ZICCARELLI, ALEX BARKER | Friday, November 2, 2007

Welsh Family vs. Lyons

The No. 8 Lions hope to play spoiler and upend the top-seeded, undefeated Welsh Family when the two teams clash Sunday.

All season, the 6-0 Whirlwinds have run down opponents with a balanced attack of overpowering offense and a stifling defense.

“Our success this season has been due to our offense, defense, coaching and team chemistry,” Welsh Family captain Kelly Bushelle said. “If the offense struggles, we know the defense will step up and vice versa.”

Offensive struggles, though, have hardly been a problem for the Whirlwinds, who average just over 22 points a game. Coupled with a dominant Whirlwind defense that has shut out opponents in half of its games, the Lions have an uphill climb.

Despite the daunting task, Lyons remains optimistic.

“We plan to come out strong and use what we have been working on in practice to beat Welsh Family,” Lyons captain Catherine Mackin said. “We are not afraid, and we will be ready on Sunday to win.”

Lyons will look for big performances on offense from sophomore quarterback Claire Connell and freshman running back Neva Lundy. In order to stop the potent Welsh Family offense, the Lions will need big games from their defensive core of seniors Judith Kaczmarek and Joanna Collins and junior Shannon Brandy. The Lions defense has given up an average of 12.5 points in six games this season.

The Lions and Whirlwinds play Sunday at 1 p.m. on Riehle Field.

Pangborn vs. Cavanaugh

These Phoxes may be young, but that doesn’t mean they play like it.

Pangborn, led almost entirely by freshman and sophomores, enters the playoffs riding a five-game unbeaten streak it hopes to continue Sunday against Cavanaugh.

The No. 3 seed Phoxes look to rely on a tough defense and strong passing game led by freshman quarterback Gabbie Tate and sophomore receiver Meghan Bescher.

Bescher has been a key player for Pangborn in all facets of the game. In her team’s last two games against Lewis and Breen-Phillips, Bescher scored all 40 Pangborn points.

To prepare for the playoffs, the Phoxes have gone from one practice a week to three, hoping to stay fresh despite a two-week layoff between games.

Cavanaugh, meanwhile, hopes to rely on its experience to get into the second round.

Led by junior quarterback and Katie Dunn and senior receiver Tarah Brom, the Chaos also enter the playoffs with momentum, having won three of their past four games.

“We’ve improved a lot from the beginning of the season,” Dunn said. “We had momentum at the end of the season and we want to continue that in the playoffs.”

Dunn was confident her team wouldn’t be harmed by the long break since its last game.

“[It might] affect us a little,” Dunn said. “But we’ve been scrimmaging in practice and I consider our defense to be pretty strong, so I don’t think it’ll affect us too much.”

In addition to shaking off the rust, Dunn was adamant about doing the little things right on Sunday, especially extra point plays.

“All the teams are good now, so the games will come down to the wire.” Dunn said. “We struggled with extra points early in the season, but we’ve been working a lot on defending and scoring them.”

The Chaos, though, haven’t made any major changes for the playoffs.

“We know Pangborn is a good team and a fast team,” Dunn said. “We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

The Phoxes take on Cavanaugh at 3 p.m. on Riehle Field.

Walsh vs. Farley

The Wild Women will look to keep their undefeated season going Sunday when they face Farley in the opening round of the playoffs.

Senior captain Marie Brenner expected to see her squad rejuvenated after its week off.

“We’re going into the playoff games with a new enthusiasm and excitement in hopes of playing the championship game in the stadium,” Brenner said.

However, don’t expect to see Walsh looking too far ahead.

“Since we’ve played Farley already once in the season, we know that they are tough competition,” Brenner said. “Despite our high goals, we are also playing one game at a time.”

Offensively, senior quarterback Mary Sullivan will lead the high-powered Walsh attack. She will try to connect with sophomore receiver Sierra Smith and sophomore receiver Meghan Hadley.

While Farley had a tough start to the season, junior captain Jenny Rolfs said the Finest have their best days ahead of them.

“We lost a few games that we definitely should have won,” Rolfs said.

The Finest have been working hard at addressing some problems that cost them earlier in the season. In particular, Farley has been working on finishing drives in the red zone.

Farley will once again lean on its strong defense to keep them in the game. Senior defensive captain Anna Pursley leads the secondary, and Brigid McGann will head the linebacking corps.

“We’re hoping that our defense can continue to shut down offenses as it has been doing,” Rolfs said.

The teams will meet Sunday at 4 p.m. at Riehle Field.

Howard vs. Pasquerilla West

In a battle between two teams with two losses, Howard will take on defending champion Pasquerilla West in the first round of the playoffs Sunday.

Howard has a record of 3-2-1 with a three game unbeaten streak. The Ducks, however, are not overlooking the Purple Weasels.

“PW is definitely a strong opponent,” senior captain Mary Jenkins said. “I think they are one of the toughest teams we could potentially face in the playoffs. A win against them would give us a great boost heading into the next round.”

The Ducks are led on offense by freshman quarterback Kayla Bishop and junior wide receiver Laura Giezeman.

“I could tell at practice that we definitely came back from the break as focused as ever,” Jenkins said. “We are going to try and mix up our offensive game plan and let Kayla throw it around a little more.”

Junior lineman Kate Sylvia leads a solid defense that will look to shut down the Weasels on Sunday.

“After reevaluating the defense, we got great results and are excited with our group heading into this week’s game,” Jenkins said.

Despite early season woes, Pasquerilla West finished strong by shutting out Badin and clinching its spot in the playoffs. Senior captain Tina Martinek hopes to lead her team back to the championship game in a repeat performance of last year.

The key this year for the Weasels will be their talented defense. The Weasels punched their ticket into the playoffs by shutting out Badin 16-0 in the last game of the regular season. As Pasquerilla West’s 4-2 record is misleading, as each of its losses came in very close games.

With the experience of last season’s championship playoff run under their belts, the Weasels could make a run at the title.

Howard plays Pasquerilla West Sunday at 2 p.m. on Riehle Field.