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Women’s Interhall Football: McGlinn challenges PW in first round of playoffs

MATTHEW ROBISON, KEVIN BALDWIN, KAITLYN MURPHY and COLIN KING | Friday, November 6, 2009

In a match-up between the top-seeded team and the eighth-seeded team, Pasquerilla West (6-0) will look to continue its path toward perfection in a first round game against McGlinn (3-3-1).

While the Purple Weasels dominated all season, McGlinn barely scratched its way into the playoffs with a thrilling, last-minute win over Lewis.

 “We know we have the upper hand,” Pasquerilla West senior captain Cynthia Curley said. “But in the playoffs, teams give it everything we have. We expect McGlinn to come out ready.”

The Shamrocks nearly fell to Lewis, who was playing spoiler, in their final regular season game, which was essentially a playoff game for McGlinn. However, the Shamrocks have proven they belong in the postseason tournament, and do not plan of making an early exit.

The Purple Weasels realize the urgency of the situation as well, and will take the defending champion Shamrocks seriously.

“We are going to treat every play, every snap, like it is the last play of the season,” Curley said. “We know they are a challenge.”

With the heightened intensity of the playoff game this week, one can expect that both teams will be practicing harder and focusing more in preparation.

“Practice feels a little different,” Curley said. “We are all a little bit more focused.”

The games should also be much more exciting. With both teams coming in with nothing-to-lose attitude, look for both teams to step up the intensity on every play. Defenses will be covering tighter, receivers will be sprinting faster, and quarterbacks and running backs will be even more locked-in than usual.

The Purple Weasels and the Shamrocks will meet at LaBar Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

Pangborn vs. Farley

After beginning the season as one of the top teams, Farley’s second half was a bit disappointing, with a loss and two ties. Pangborn (4-2) will look to hand the Finest (3-1-2) its second and final loss in the first round of the playoffs Sunday.

“We had a good season,” Farley sophomore defensive back Katie Smith said. “We would have liked to finish on a better note but hopefully we’ll come back with a win in the playoffs.”

The Finest’s biggest asset this year has been its resilient defense, neutralizing opponents’ passing games with their defensive backs’ superior ability to reel in interceptions, largely led by Smith. Their roster also has the advantage of depth; key plays are not limited to just a few main contributors.

“Our talent is pretty spread out through the team, anyone can come up with big plays when we need them to,” Smith said.

Farley will need a strong defensive performance to stifle the Pangborn offense. The Phoxes have had success with a balanced approach. Junior quarterback Gabby Tate has proven herself to be versatile at the position, equally skilled at running the ball as she is at unleashing a devastating aerial attack with the support of her receivers.

Whatever they have in store for Sunday, Pangborn is a driven team that is looking ahead toward championship glory.

“We’ve been working towards the stadium from day one. Our team has meshed together really well so we’re glad we get to play more games together,” sophomore captain Julie Cooney said.

Whoever comes out on top Sunday will play the winner of Pasquerilla West and McGlinn next week.

Pangborn and Farley will kickoff at 1 p.m. at LaBar Field.

Pasquerilla East vs. Walsh

Sunday’s playoff match-up between Pasquerilla East (3-2-1) and Walsh (5-1) will showcase two of the best quarterbacks in the league.

The Pyros’ senior quarterback Tara Pillai hopes to bring the team their first play-off victory since 2002. On the other side of the field, the Wild Women will rely on talented junior quarterback Amy Langnecker to generate big plays.

Walsh’s senior captain Molly McCarthy said that Langnecker’s primary targets will be senior Sierra Smith and junior Lindsay Schanzer, both of whom outperformed many defenses they faced this season. Senior defensive end Kim Bugos and junior linebacker Carolyn Leary will lead the Wild Women’s defense against an aggressive Pasquerilla East squad.

McCarthy emphasized the high level of dedication and spirit among the Wild Women as they get ready to take on the Pyros.

“We’re working hard to make sure we’re prepared,” she said. “Our team is pretty diverse in terms of age, so we’ve got a good combo of fresh enthusiasm and talent from our new girls and know-how, grit and desire from our older girls.”

Not only has Walsh out-performed all but one of the teams they faced on the field this season, but McCarthy argues that the character of the team far surpasses any other.
“For such a small dorm, I think it’s very telling when you see around 30-40 girls show up for each game,” she said.

Pasquerilla West’s Pillai said her team has the willpower to win.

“We are all very excited about [playing in the playoffs], but we know that it is not enough to make the playoffs – we want to win some games too,” Pillai said. “We don’t want this to be our last game.”

Pillai said victories will be made possible by a solid team effort. This effort will be lead by senior linebacker Liz Ruiz and senior safety Anne Horst on the defensive side of the ball.

On offense, Pillai will look to her favorite receivers, freshman Erica Chenard and sophomore Kristin Mannion.

The meeting between Langnecker and Pillai, the Pyros and the Wildwomen, is Sunday at 3 p.m. at LaBar Field.

Howard vs. Cavanaugh

Cavanaugh (3-3) looks to spoil undefeated Howard’s title chances in the first round of playoffs Sunday.

The Chaos are led by an experienced group of seniors and the sophomore quarterback to wide receiver connection of Rebecca Cink and Brittini Alexander, respectively.

“Rebecca has been able to scramble and run really well,” Alexander said. “She’s also made really good decisions with the ball all year long.”

In order for Cavanaugh to have a shot against Howard, Alexander and Cink must come up big. The Chaos have noticed a trend during the regular season: as the offense goes, so goes the team.

“The offense has executed well this season in our three wins,” Cink said. “When we’ve struggled, it has been in rainy weather that has been difficult to pass the ball in. If we get a couple scores early, we should be fine.”

Those early scores will be tough to come by against the Howard defense. The Ducks (6-0) have made their mark playing stingy defense pressuring opponents into turnovers and mistakes while an opportunistic offense looks to cash in.

“We’re going to look for our defense to put pressure on their quarterback and force turnovers, which our offense will hopefully capitalize on,” Ducks junior captain Kayla Bishop said.

Bishop emphasized the Ducks will not be content with just a perfect regular season. In order to make a deep playoff run, Howard must continue to improve.

“We have put in plenty of time in practice to be sharp for the playoffs,” Bishop said. “We want Sunday’s game to be a statement that we’re for real.

This season’s unblemished run is the first in Howard history.

Howard looks to make a strong statement, and continue a perfect season, against Cavanaugh Sunday. Gametime is 4 p.m. at LaBar Field.