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Women’s Interhall: Wildcats face top-seeded Purple Weasels

Observer Sports Writers | Friday, November 2, 2012

By ALEX WILCOX
Sports Writer

On paper, Sunday’s meeting between No. 1 Pasquerilla West and No. 8 Ryan appears to be a mismatch. The Purple Weasels (6-0) come into the playoffs with an undefeated record, while the Wildcats (4-2) squeaked into the playoffs as the final seed. Despite this, a game resembling a David vs. Goliath matchup may look more like a heavyweight fight.

“We know we’ve got a good squad, but we want to make sure we go into the playoffs playing our best,” Pasquerilla West senior captain Meghan Schmitt said. “We’re just going to take it game by game.”

Ryan has been in the same position as Pasquerilla West, since the Wildcats were the top seed in the playoffs last year. The Wildcats were upset in the first round last season, but senior captain Maya Pillai said they will use that experience to their advantage.

“Last year, we went into the playoffs as the highest seed and lost in the first round, so anything can happen,” Pillai said. “This year we’re playing the top seed, so [there’s] no pressure on us at all.”

While Ryan may have felt the pressure last year, Pasquerilla West seems unfazed by it.

“We don’t really feel the pressure,” Schmitt said. “We’re just going to do our own thing and focus on us. We just need to play our game.”

Pasquerilla West’s strategy is to rely on its playmakers on offense and a staunch defensive line on defense. The Purple Weasels’ offense includes dual-threat sophomore quarterback Lauren Vidal and senior receivers Kirsten Danna and Katherine Bass, while Schmitt leads the team on defense.

On the other side of the field, Pillai said she believes her team can utilize its offensive weapons, namely junior receiver Maddie Swan, senior receiver Kelly O’Brien and junior running back Leah Fisher.

“Offensively, we want to put together some long drives that will get us some points on the board,” Pillai said. “Defensively, we’ve got to contain their speed and limit big plays.”

Pillai said she knows the task will be tough for her team but is confident the Wildcats can pull off the upset.

“We have a lot of talent and experience on our team, and we will play hard the entire game,” Pillai said. “We don’t really view ourselves as underdogs because we know what we are capable of.”

Ryan looks to knock off top-seeded Pasquerilla West on Sunday at 4 p.m. at LaBar Fields.

Contact Alex Wilcox at awilcox1@nd.edu

Cavanaugh vs. Pangborn
By ALEX STEMBAUGH
Sports Writer

No. 3 Cavanaugh and No. 6 Pangborn are set to square off this Sunday in first-round playoff action. A loss means an early exit for either team, both of which have their sights set on the championship game.
Cavanaugh (5-1) hopes to make a championship run and avenge its loss to McGlinn in last year’s championship game.

“We’re looking to make a run this year but also realize that we have a lot of work left to get there,” senior center Kelly Brakora said.

The key to a win for the Chaos may lie in staunch defensive pressure.

“Our defense has always been really solid, aside from one little blip against [Pasquerilla West],” Brakora said. “We just need to maintain that.”

The Chaos will look for efficient ball movement from senior quarterback Rosemary Kelly, who is a first-year starter at the position.

“We are just really looking forward to getting out there to play and putting up some points,” Brakora said.

Pangborn (4-2), meanwhile, is excited to take on the reigning runner-ups.

“We’re very eager to go out and play again,” senior receiver Meredith Angell said.

Coming off a 20-12 loss to Lewis, the Phoxes look to bounce back in winning fashion.

“Our last game didn’t end how we wanted,” Angell said. “We hope to fix those little mistakes and get back to playing games how we played in the beginning and middle of the season.”

Angell said avoiding penalties and an emphasis on detail are necessary for a Pangborn victory. The Phoxes will also look for strong leadership from their quarterback, sophomore Caitlin Gargan, to open up their passing game.

“[Gargan] is key for us,” Angell said. “We’re looking for her to come out strong and make some big plays to our receivers. We’re ready and raring to go, and hopefully we can make a great playoff run.”

Cavanaugh and Pangborn will kick off the first round of the playoffs Sunday at 5 p.m. at LaBar Fields.

Contact Alex  Stembaugh at astembau@nd.edu

McGlinn vs. Badin
By SARAH CONNORS
Sports Writer

No. 2 McGlinn and No. 7 Badin will face off Sunday in the first round of interhall playoff action.

Defending champion McGlinn (5-1) makes its fourth consecutive playoff appearance, while Badin (2-4) appears in the playoffs for the first time in three years.

Despite making the playoffs, Badin had its share of struggles throughout the season. Senior captain Tommasina Domel said most of Bullfrogs’ problems result from Badin’s small size.

“It is really hard to put together a game plan when you don’t know which girls you are going to have,” Domel said.

The inconsistency of the roster coupled with various player injuries has made it tough for the Bullfrogs, but the team’s defense has help carried it through rough patches.

“Our defense is made up of a lot of veterans who know what they are doing, and can usually handle anything that any offense throws at them,” Domel said.

On the other hand, McGlinn comes into the game riding a three-game winning streak. The Shamrocks’ strongest asset this season has also been their defense.

“Our defense suffocates our opponents and we had two shut outs this season,” McGlinn senior captain Emily Golden said. “Even in our loss to Pangborn, our defense kept it to a one possession game for almost the entire game.”

Golden said the Shamrocks will use an aggressive defensive game plan to try and limit the Bullfrogs.

“[Badin] has a couple of really dynamic players who are capable of huge gains, so as long as we are in position and get flag pulls we should be able to keep the big plays to a minimum” she said.

Both teams will look toward veterans and new players alike to step up and have huge games.

McGlinn and Badin will meet in a battle of the defenses Sunday at 5 p.m. at LaBar Fields.

Contact Sarah Connors at sconnor1@nd.edu

Walsh vs. Welsh Family
By GREG HADLEY
Sports Writer

For No. 4 Walsh and No. 5 Welsh Family, who will meet in quarterfinal clash Sunday, playoffs are an eagerly awaited chance for redemption.

In last year’s playoffs, Welsh Family (4-2) fell to Pasquerilla West in overtime. Welsh Family senior captain and quarterback Victoria Moreno said she believes the Whirlwinds have made the necessary adjustments to make a deep postseason run.

“We’re a different team from previous years,” Moreno said. “We used to be a very offense oriented team, but, this year, our defense has improved, so we’re very balanced.”

Moreno said the key to the matchup would be how well the Whirlwinds are able to control the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense.

“Their quarterback is really good, so we need to get lots of pressure on her and force her to make mistakes,” Moreno said. “Offensively, we’re going to need time so our receivers can get downfield. We’re primarily a passing team.”

Moreno said the Whirlwinds would rely on senior Grace Corrigan and sophomore Katie O’Brien to anchor the offensive line.

Walsh (4-2) has had to wait a little longer to return to the postseason. Its last appearance came in 2009, when it lost in the semifinals. Senior captain Lindy Navarre said the team is excited to be in the playoffs, but the Wild Women remain focused on advancing.

“We’re excited to be back, of course,” Navarre said. “But everyone, from the freshmen to the older girls, is really focused. We have the discipline to keep going.”

To advance, the Wild Women will need their defense, anchored by the leadership of senior safety Lauren Dunn, to be as stout as it has been all season. On the other side of the ball, Navarre said the offense wants to keep up its steady improvement.

“Our defense has been really consistent, and we’ve improved so much from the beginning of the year on offense, we’re just really pumped to get out and play,” Navarre said.

The Wild Women are a young squad, and Navarre said it has been exciting to see how younger players, such as sophomore receiver Kathleen Hough and sophomore cornerback Molly Johnson, have stepped up each week to help the team.

“Week by week, we’ve been working on team unity,” Navarre said. “We’re all ready for this.”

Walsh and Welsh Family will play Sunday at 4 p.m. at LaBar Fields.

Contact Greg Hadley at ghadley@nd.edu