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Women’s Interhall Football: Walsh tops Cavanaugh; Ducks’ defense falters

Sam Werner, Rachel Plassmeyer and Laura Myers | Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Walsh seems to have found a rallying point for its season.

As the team’s pre-game cheer indicates, they “have the rock” – a small piece of stone that was once a part of the Berlin Wall. The team rallied around the rock, its unofficial mascot, to defeat Cavanaugh 7-6 at Riehle Field on Tuesday night.

After receiving the ball to start the game, the Wild Women wasted no time taking advantage of a Chaos defense that was playing its first game of the regular season. On the opening drive, senior quarterback Mary Claire Sullivan led her team down the field almost single-handedly, rushing the ball three times and connecting on three long passes to sophomore receiver Sierra Smith.

On a third-down play from the Cavanaugh 15-yard line, Smith, surrounded by three Chaos defenders, brought the ball in to secure the touchdown and take a lead Walsh would not surrender. Senior captain Marie Brenner ran in the extra point to give Walsh a 7-0 lead.

After the opening drive, both defenses buckled down and neither offense could generate any momentum. The teams exchanged punts until midway through the second half.

After a punt return to midfield, Chaos junior quarterback Katie Dunn completed three straight passes to get her team within five yards of a touchdown. After a two-yard scramble by Dunn, Cavanaugh faced a fourth-and-goal from the Walsh 2-yard line. Senior captain Tarah Brom attempted to cross the plane on a sweep but was stopped behind the line by Walsh defender Julie Campbell.

The Chaos was given a second chance when Lauren Cummings intercepted a Sullivan pass moments later. On third down, Dunn was pressured by Walsh’s defense, but managed connect while on the run with receiver Sarah Van Mill, who was standing unguarded in the corner of the end zone.

An extra point would have tied the score, but Dunn was stopped just before she could dive across the goal line, leaving the Wild Women with the slim edge.

Cavanaugh got another chance to win the game with 1:23 remaining, but three straight incomplete passes ensured victory for the Wild Women.

After the game, Sullivan was awarded the offensive MVP for Walsh, with Campbell winning defensive MVP. Both players received a piece of “the rock” as a reward.

“[Campbell’s] stop at the end of the game was absolutely crucial,” Walsh coach Mike Schaefer said.

Sullivan, meanwhile, enjoyed the moment after defeating her team’s arch-rivals.

“It’s a pretty intense rivalry,” she said. “It’s always competitive, and it feels really good to win my senior year.”

Though disappointed with the loss, Cavanaugh coach Hunter Land refused to look at the negatives and was already looking forward to exacting revenge.

“Our defense played really well the second half,” he said. “Walsh played a hell of a game and we wish them the best of luck this season. We definitely hope to play them one more time, though.”

PE 14, Howard 14

Although Howard’s defense had been powerful against McGlinn Sunday, it collapsed against Pasquerilla East in a hard-fought tie.

The Ducks started the game with a long pass from freshman quarterback Kayla Bishop to freshman receiver Leslie Allen, but were stopped shortly thereafter.

Howard’s defense played well; Emily Stewart made a diving interception and Laura Geisman had two picks of her own. After her second interception, Howard’s rushing and passing attack took the Ducks down the field.

Pasquerilla East’s coaches attributed Howard’s passing success to the height of their receivers. Howard’s two touchdowns came on deep passes.

“Howard is a small team of girls, but they are pretty good,” Pyros co-coach Laura Hansen said. “I bet every one of them is over 5-[foot]-10.”

Pasquerilla East worked their way down the field and eventually evened the score, but neither team could pull ahead.

Pyros co-coach Kyle Carter admitted didn’t have a solid game plan.

“We just go out and make up plays, pretty much,” Carter said. “… P.E. was a lot faster than we were. They’ve got speed.”

Howard coach Tim Baumgartner said the team faced a tough opponent.

“They kept us guessing with that play-calling – they ran reverses and things that we just weren’t ready for,” he said.

One of Howard’s players saw the need to change their defensive alignment.

“I’ve got to give credit to Christina Sensabaugh; during our timeout she told us the defense wasn’t working, and then she came up with a scheme that held PE back for the rest of the game,” Carter said.

McGlinn 0, Farley 0

Defense was the name of the game as McGlinn and Farley blocked and tackled their way to scoreless tie Tuesday at Rihele Field.

The Finest defense got going early, when they drove McGlinn to a three-and-out on its first possession and forced a punt. Farley senior quarterback and captain Jenny Rolfs completed four passes in a row to senior receiver Kim Crehan. But the Finest were stopped short of a first down and yielded the ball to the Shamrocks.

Rolfs completed 15-of-19 passes but threw three interceptions. In addition, a five-yard false start penalty in the second half caused the offense to stumble.

“The offense has a lot of new players,” Rolfs said. “I think we did a good job of moving the ball.”

McGlinn’s offense was based on the run, with sophomore running back Tina Noranha getting the majority of the carries. The Shamrocks, playing sophomore backup quarterback Christie Haller, were held to only one first down. Haller was 2-of-7 passing with two interceptions.

“You’ve got to hand it to Farley’s defense,” senior McGlinn coach Jeff Paramore said. “They really stopped our run.”

The football changed hands many times at the end of the second half.

With two minutes left on the clock, McGlinn turned the ball over on downs. The Farley possession began with a 25-yard rush by Rolfs, followed by three passes to Crehan. But Shamrocks freshman Kathleen Stanley had several tackles to prevent the Finest from scoring.

McGlinn took over with 30 seconds remaining, but Farley senior Anna Pursley intercepted Haller’s pass. The Finest regained possession with time for one more play, but Rolfs’ pass attempt was intercepted by senior Shamrocks captain Katie Zedler to end the game.

“We showed a lot of promise today,” Zedler said. “We are implementing a new offense, and have a lot of new players. The rest is yet unwritten.”

Senior Farley coach Matt Barcus also saw potential in his team.

“I think we can win with this team,” Barcus said. “Six ties and we go to the playoffs.”

The Farley Finest play Cavanaugh Sunday at 1 p.m., and McGlinn’s next challenger is also Cavanaugh, on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.