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Women’s Interhall: Wildcats look to strike against Ducks, end streak

Brian Hartnett, Jonathan Warren, Nick Boyle, Peter Steiner | Thursday, November 3, 2011

By BRIAN HARTNETT

Sports Writer

No. 2 seed Ryan will look to ride the momentum from a dominant regular season, while No. 7 seed Howard will try to pull off the upset and move closer to a third straight championship in a first-round playoff clash Sunday.

Ryan (6-0) comes into the playoffs after an unprecedentedly strong regular season, in which the Wildcats finished first in the Gold Division and racked up an incredible 115-point differential. The Wildcats have achieved success largely through an explosive offense that accounted for 190 points in six games.

Ryan senior captain and running back Brianna Curtis said the team plans to stick to the plays that have worked for them all year.

“We plan to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Curtis said. “We will keep practicing our plays and work on covering and pulling flags as efficiently as possible.”

Regardless of the playoff outcome, Curtis said this year has been a great one for the Wildcats, who did not even qualify for last year’s playoffs.

“We’re proud of ourselves for working so hard during the regular season,” Curtis said. “This team is a lot more experienced, being led by mostly upperclassmen, and it shows.”

Meanwhile, Howard (2-4) comes into the playoffs after an up-and-down season that culminated with a tight loss to No. 1 seed Cavanaugh. However, the Ducks possess experience, with several team members having won two interhall championships.

“We’ve been here before, so I don’t think that we’ll have the nerves that some of the other teams have,” senior receiver and captain Jenny Gassner said.

To be successful, the Ducks will need a strong performance from their offense, which was shut out three times this season.

“It has been difficult to score, but we’ve seen a lot of good offensive drives and good completions in the last few games,” Gassner said. “We just need to work on playing with more intensity and giving a little more energy in our passing plays.”

Howard plans to counter the strong Ryan attack with its stout defense, which has kept the team competitive throughout the season.

“We have a lot of good, strong players on defense and have been very successful in putting pressure on the quarterback with our defensive line,” Gassner said.

Ryan and Howard will face off at 6 p.m. Sunday at LaBar Fields.

Contact Brian Hartnett at bhartnet@nd.edu

Welsh Fam vs. PW

By JONATHAN WARREN

Sports Writer

Welsh Family and Pasquerilla West, the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, will face off in what could be a close game Sunday. Though Pasquerilla West is the lower seed, the team doesn’t think it’s an underdog.

“We’re excited for the playoffs and we’re ready to keep winning,” Pasquerilla West senior captain and safety Alison Lindeen said. “I think it’s expected that we’ll make it into the second round. We’re expecting to win that first game.”

Having been to the Stadium for the championship game the past two years, the Purple Weasels (4-2) bring confidence and experience to this year’s playoffs. Lindeen said the Purple Weasels have played enough teams to be prepared for whatever Welsh Family brings.

“We’re prepared to see a lot of different things on offense and defense,” Lindeen said. “Our defense has some things it can adjust if Welsh Family shows certain schemes.”

Lindeen said she thinks junior quarterback Kirsten Danna will have a big game Sunday.

While the Purple Weasels will rely on some of their big playmakers for success, Welsh Family (4-2) is developing a plan to stop them.

“[Pasquerilla West is] always a good team, especially on offense,” Welsh Family senior captain and receiver Charlotte Seasly said. “It will be a challenge to play them, so hopefully we bring the intensity.”

Seasly said the Whirlwind are hoping to limit their mistakes and advance to the semifinals

“We need to play mistake-free football on both sides of the ball [to win Sunday],” Seasly said.

Seasly said the team’s road to the playoffs has made them more prepared for Pasquerilla West.

“We’ve definitely had some ups and downs this season,” Seasly said. “We’ve learned from our wins and our losses, and I think it’s made us a more well-rounded team going into the playoffs.”

The Whirlwind will look to make adjustments on defense in practice this week due to injuries. The defense will look to the leadership of senior lineman Erin Byrne, who recorded the game-winning sack against Lyons last week, to contain Pasquerilla West.

The Whirlwind and Purple Weasels will meet Sunday at 6 p.m. at LaBar Fields.

Contact Jonathan Warren at jwarren3@nd.edu

McGlinn vs. Farley

By NICK BOYLE

Sports Writer

Quarterfinal play kicks off Sunday when No. 3 seed Farley takes on No. 6 seed McGlinn.

Farley (5-1) is coming off a strong regular season where the Finest relied on a stiff defense and consistent offense to win games.

Coming into the playoffs, the Finest will depend on a defense that only allowed 12 total points this season.

“Defensively, we just have to keep up with what we’ve been doing all season,” senior captain and cornerback Analise Althoff said. “We’re playing with a lot of confidence and aggression right now. We go into games expecting to force three-and-outs and turnovers.”

Althoff said this confidence will motivate the team Sunday when they take on McGlinn.

“We only had one loss on the season, but it was a very humbling experience for us,” Althoff said. “This has made us even hungrier for a playoff win on Sunday. If we can come out focused and confident, I think we will have a good chance at winning.”

On the other side of the ball, McGlinn (4-2) is coming off a strong season in which the Shamrocks relied on an explosive offense coupled with a strong defense to win games. Though McGlinn lost its final game of the season, senior captain and quarterback Lauren Miller said the Shamrocks are carrying good momentum into the playoffs.

“Even though our last game was a loss, we still improved a lot over the course of the year,” Miller said. “We’ve been getting better as we’ve been playing more and more. We’re very pleased with the way our season has gone so far.”

Miller said the key to the Shamrocks’ success has been a consistent defensive unit that has carried the team in many close games.

“The strength of our team has been our defensive play. They’ve kept us in and helped us win many games,” Miller said. “It’s really a testament to our veteran leadership and the ability of our younger players to pick up the system. We hope they can come out strong on Sunday.”

Farley and McGlinn face off Sunday at 5 p.m. at LaBar fields with a semi-final place on the line.

Contact Nick Boyle at nboyle1@nd.edu

Cavanaugh vs. Lyons

By PETER STEINER

Sports Writer

Lyons overcame challenges to qualify for the playoffs, but as the No. 8 seed, it now faces its toughest test yet — a top-seeded and undefeated Cavanaugh squad determined to advance to the second round.

Because the Lyonites (3-3) have not reached the postseason in recent years, they were excited to make the playoffs, freshman captain Christina Bramanti said. But the team isn’t satisfied with just getting there.

“Since we have made it this far, we definitely want to keep going as far as we can,” Bramanti said.

To beat undefeated Cavanaugh (6-0), Lyons will have to put points on the board, which it has done all season, averaging just under 14 points per game.

However, Bramanti said the Lyonites will not only need to score, but also reach the end zone first in order to avoid an uphill battle the rest of the game.

“We want to go out there and take care of our offense early so we don’t have to play catch up at halftime,” Bramanti said. “It’s nice not to have to catch up or gain the lead.”

Scoring against the Chaos will be difficult, as they have only allowed nine points all season. Cavanaugh is hoping its shutdown defense and past experience in the playoffs will propel it to victory, senior captain Maggie Fahrenbach said.

“We have experience so hopefully that will help us,” Fahrenbach said. “But we don’t have a lot of experience late in the playoffs, so we are hoping to make it further.”

While many view the Chaos as favorites in the playoffs because of their top seed, Fahrenbach said she doesn’t see it that way.

“Because it is the playoffs, every team goes in with a clean slate,” Fahrenbach said.

In addition to the matchup of the Chaos defense and Lyonite offense, the game’s result will also rest on the battle between two senior quarterbacks. Kat Rodriguez has been Lyons’ main offensive threat all season, while Rebecca Cink has led Cavanaugh’s offensive production with 10 passing touchdowns this year.

With the winner one step closer to playing in Notre Dame Stadium, Cavanaugh and Lyons will square off in the first round of the playoffs Sunday at 5 p.m. at LaBar Fields.

Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu