Women’s Interhall: Pasquerilla West takes down Pasquerilla East
Andrew Robinson and Jose Fernandez | Wednesday, November 20, 2013
In the semifinal matchup between rivals Pasquerilla West and Pasquerilla East under the lights at Stinson Rugby Field on Tuesday night, the No. 1 Purple Weasels (8-0) came out on top with a 26-6 victory over the No. 4 Pyros (7-1).
The Purple Weasels started fast, getting a defensive stop and quickly marching down the field, led by senior co-captain and quarterback Rachel Rogers. Rogers connected with freshman receiver Danyelle Steichen for a 15-yard touchdown to cap the drive.
The Purple Weasel defense, which allowed fewer than three points per game in the regular season, then stopped the Pyros again, and the offense edged into Pyro territory. Rogers found Steichen for another eight-yard touchdown reception, and a two-point conversion put the Weasels up 14-0.
“I’d been playing a little slow lately, so it felt really good to get back out there [and score the touchdowns],” Steichen said.
Behind freshman receiver Noelle Gooding and junior quarterback Macy Mulhall, Pasquerilla East bounced back and moved inside the 10-yard line as time wound down. However, Purple Weasels freshman cornerback Hannah Butler thwarted the drive, picking off Mulhall’s next pass at the goal line and returning it 60 yards. Senior captain and linebacker Breezi Toole said the play was just one of many game-changing plays made by Pasquerilla West’s freshmen.
“That interception was a huge momentum booster heading into halftime,” Toole said. “So many of our younger girls stepped up and killed it today.”
Pasquerilla West carried their energy into the first drive of second half, highlighted by long receptions by freshman receiver Monica Busse. Rogers scrambled for a 13-yard run to get to the goal line and punched it in with a touchdown run up the middle on the next play.
The Pyros came back and scored on a 45-yard touchdown pass, but any hope for a fourth-quarter comeback was put to rest after the Weasels scored on Busse’s two-yard touchdown reception.
For the last game of her career, the Pyros sent out senior captain Caroline Kuse – usually a defensive lineman – to play quarterback for the last two snaps, where she proceeded to complete her first pass. Kuse said she appreciated the gesture by her teammates and enjoyed the Pyro’s run to the semifinals.
“Coach told me to make the play [at quarterback], I made the play,” Kuse said. “I love my team. It’s a bummer [that we lost], but we really had fun,”
Pasquerilla West, meanwhile, is headed to the championship next week with confidence, Steichen said.
“If everyone on the team plays the best that we can, I know that we’re the best team at Notre Dame, so we’ll win,” Steichen said.
The Purple Weasels will take on Ryan in Notre Dame Stadium on Sunday.
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Ryan 19, Pangborn 13
After tying in the regular season, No. 2 Ryan overpowered No. 3 Pangborn 19-13 and earned a spot in the championship game at Notre Dame Stadium.
Both teams exchanged scores and defensive stops in the first half and the game went into the break with a 6-6 tie.
The Wildcats (8-0-1) jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter as freshman quarterback Kathleen Conaty threw the first of her three touchdowns with a four-yard pass. Pangborn (7-1-1) didn’t answer until junior quarterback Caitlin Gargan led a two-minute drill that culminated with a 26-yard touchdown run by Gargan as the half expired.
After exchanging interceptions and three-and-outs in the third quarter, the Phoxes scored on a 12-yard Gargan touchdown pass to take the lead after their defense forced a turnover at the start of the fourth quarter. On Ryan’s next drive, however, Conaty had runs of 30 and 25 yards that set up her second touchdown pass of the evening from 15 yards out.
With the game winding to a close and the score tied, the Wildcat defense swiped their second interception of the day, setting up the game-winning touchdown. With two minutes left, quarterback Conaty connected from eight yards out to give Ryan a lead they would not give up. Despite her three touchdown passes, Conaty gave her teammates the majority of the credit for Ryan’s victory.
“This was a total team effort,” Conaty said. “It felt great to be back out there with my teammates and getting this win after missing last week.”
After the game, Ryan senior captain and receiver Maddie Swan she was excited with the way her young players had developed into their roles, especially Conaty.
“We have grown so much throughout the year,” Swan said. “Our young players have stepped up and taken control of this team and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Pangborn’s offense was constantly pressured by the Wildcat’s defensive line, leading to two interceptions, including the one preceding Ryan’s game-winning drive.
Senior captain and receiver Molly Shawhan said the she was disappointed in the outcome, but not with her team’s effort.
“After a hard fought game, we have no reason not to be proud of ourselves,” Shawhan said. “We had a great year and we can only go up from here next year.”
Heading into the championship game on Sunday, Swan said Ryan was ecstatic to face the Wildcat’s toughest challenge yet.
“We’re going to give it our all,” Swan said. “This is what we’ve worked so hard for all year.”
The Wildcats will conclude their season this Sunday in the championship game against Pasquerilla West at Notre Dame Stadium.
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