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Women’s Interhall Football: Survive and advance

COLIN KING, KAITLYN MURPHY, KEVIN BALDWIN and MATTHEW ROBISON | Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top-seeded Howard (7-0) survived a furious second-half comeback from Cavanaugh (3-4), winning 13-6 in the first round of playoffs Sunday.

The Ducks got off to a quick start as junior quarterback Kayla Bishop found junior receiver Kaitlin Robinson in the corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.  

“We’ve been practicing really hard getting ready for the playoffs,” Robinson said.  “We spent a lot of time on that play in particular and it worked to perfection.”

Bishop wasn’t done making plays. On Howard’s next possession she connected with sophomore receiver Kristyn Jeffries on a 40-yard bomb and later scampered 10 yards for another touchdown. The Ducks’ second touchdown of the day put them up 13-0 and seemed to deflate Cavanaugh.

However, the Chaos came out firing after halftime. On fourth-and-goal, Chaos sophomore quarterback Rebecca Cink rolled left and lofted a pass to junior receiver Holly Hinz. Hinz managed to get one foot in the end zone for the score, cutting Howard’s lead to 13-6.
“I was lucky to get that foot in bounds,” Hinz said.

Momentum seemed to have shifted the Chaos’ way as they stuffed Howard on their next two offensive possessions, but the Ducks kept answering with defense stops of their own.
“I can’t say enough about our defense,” Robinson said.

Cavanaugh had one last chance after Bishop was intercepted as the Ducks were about to score. The Howard defense just proved to be too much for the Chaos.

The Ducks advance to play Walsh next weekend.

Walsh 25,
Pasquerilla East 20

Walsh held off Pasquerilla East 25-20 in a thrilling battle of two evenly matched teams.

The Pyros senior quarterback Tara Pillai threw an interception on her own 15-yard line with less than two minutes left and provided the Wild Women with an opportunity to score a game-winning touchdown. Walsh’s quarterback junior Amy Langnecker threw a four-yard pass to senior Sierra Smith. This would be the final score of the game as the Wild Women (6-1) managed to top the Pyros (3-3) in the last minute.

The game was a back and forth offensive battle including two interceptions for each team. Pyros sophomore Nneka Ekechukwa intercepted a pass on Walsh’s 30-yard line and ran it back for a touchdown. This play put Pasquerilla East up by seven and was the last points that the team would score.

“We were really upset with the outcome, but overall for the season, we are proud that we made the playoffs and had a successful year,” Pillai said.

Despite the loss, Pillai successfully spread the ball out among multiple receivers: junior Emily Meyer, freshman Erica Chenard, freshman Kelsey Eckenrode and junior Kristin Mannion, for touchdowns and extra point attempts. Pillai’s cannon in combination with her talented receiving corps led the Pyros to stick primarily to the aerial attack against the Wild Women. The pressure of Walsh’s defensive line and the success of its secondary impeded the effectiveness of this attack.

Walsh focused on its rushing attack against the Pyros and found multiple holes in their defense. Junior quarterback Amy Langnecker spread the ball between junior Lindsay Schanzer and Smith when the Wild Women took to the air. Senior captain Molly McCarthy attributes the effectiveness of the team’s attacks on both side of the ball to the strong team unity.

“Walsh football is about competition, community and a commitment to fun and Wild Women love,” McCarthy said.

She also expressed hope for the future of Walsh in the rest of the playoffs.

“This is the beginning of a hopeful journey to the Stadium,” she said.

Pangborn 7, Farley 6

Pangborn (5-2) extended its winning streak into a fifth game as it outlasted Farley 7-6 Sunday, moving into the semifinal round of the playoffs.

Junior Gabby Tate had an outstanding performance at quarterback, running for the majority of the teams’ cumulative yardage including the decisive extra point. Senior Meghan Bescher, a force on the Pangborn offense, caught the winning touchdown pass.

“I think it was really nerve-wracking at the end but our defense pulled through for us,” sophomore captain Julie Cooney said.

Senior Caitlin Furey sealed the Phoxes’ win with an interception in the end zone with seconds remaining on the clock, stopping a threatening late-game drive by the Finest (3-2-2). Freshman Sarah Topp performed brilliantly at linebacker, breaking up numerous passing attempts from the opposing offense.

Farley’s defense came alive in the second half, forcing a turnover on downs followed by two consecutive sacks by sophomore Elise Jordan on Pangborn’s second possession. The Finest capitalized on an interception by senior Caity Shepherd, with sophomore quarterback Megan Bastedo lofting a pass to wide open junior Molly Casanova who then ran down the field for the touchdown. The Pangborn defense denied the extra point attempt.

Farley freshman Claire Pursley had a notable performance on offense, consistently giving the Finest good field position by dodging and running over defenders on her punt returns.
“We had some chances but at the end we weren’t able to capitalize on it,” Bastedo said. “It was a good game, Pangborn played very well.”

Though one team’s season ends, another continues on as the Phoxes hope to build on their recent success in their quest for the championship.

“We put it all out on the field,” Pangborn senior Tricia Wilbur said. “We’re excited for the next round.”

Pangborn will face Pasquerilla West Sunday with a berth to the Stadium on the line.

Pasquerilla West 19,
McGlinn 0

McGlinn’s underdog hopes were squashed in style by Pasquerilla West Sunday, as the Purple Weasels (7-0) rolled to a 19-0 victory and the second round of the playoffs.

Pasquerilla West used a balanced offensive attack that showcased both the running and passing games. The three scoring drives covered 74, 65 and 55 yards.

McGlinn (3-3-1) also moved the ball effectively but simply failed to convert on several trips to the red zone.

“Our red zone offense was the main factor in the loss,” Shamrocks senior captain and defensive lineman Emily Dore said. “We just couldn’t punch it in.”

The Shamrocks also ran into trouble in the second half when their offense became one-dimensional, relying strictly on the passing game to move the ball. When the Purple Weasels recognized this, they dropped all but one defender into coverage and blanketed McGlinn’s receivers.

Pasquerilla West senior captain Cynthia Cooper said she was truly impressed by McGlinn.
“On paper, the score makes it look like a big win,” Cooper said. “It was much closer than the score showed.”

For McGlinn the loss ends an otherwise solid season that included much hard work and preparation, but there is hope for the future.

“We played our hearts out,” Dore said. “We had a good team this year. We had a lot of youth and most of us were just learning to play the game. It looks good for next year.”
For the Purple Weasels, this win is yet another in an undefeated season, but they are not done yet.

“It’s another step,” Cooper said. “We are taking it one game at a time. We are definitely happy with the win, but we’re not done. Our goals are to get to the Stadium and win a championship.”

Although the Purple Weasels won big, there is still work that needs to be done in preparation for next week.

“We need to figure out how much we want to pressure the quarterback,” Cooper said. “We need to know whether we are going to rush a lot or put more people back in the secondary. It’s a new approach for each team.”

The next step in Pasquerilla West’s quest for a championship is a showdown with Pangborn Sunday.