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Women’s Interhall Football: Stretch runs

Andy Ziccarelli, Kevin Henry, Anthony Conklin, Jay Fitzpatrick and Griffin Dassatti | Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Pasquerilla East gave Howard all it could handle, but in the end, the Ducks were too much for the Pyros, pulling out an 8-6 victory Sunday.

In spite of the loss, Pasquerilla East coach Brian Rycyna was impressed with his team’s effort, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

“The defense showed up today,” Rycyna said. “We had a key interception in the first half and played well the rest of the game.”

Freshman defensive back Jess Leiferman made the interception with Howard in the red zone, threatening and to take the early lead. Both defenses dominated the rest of the first half, and the score was tied 0-0 going into the second.

“We had a good drive in the first half, but it was plagued with penalties,” Rycyna said.

Both teams scored on their first possessions of the second half. Howard struck first, going on a 12 play, 65-yard drive that was aided by two consecutive Pasquerilla East penalties, one of which was a pass interference call on fourth down that kept the drive alive. Two plays later, Howard freshman quarterback Kayla Bishop threw for a touchdown pass and then converted the two-point attempt, giving the Ducks a 8-0 lead.

On the ensuing drive, the Pyros marched 65 yards in six plays, tying the game up on a touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Caitlin Lynch to wide receiver Tara Pillai. Lynch finished the day 12-for-21 passing.

But Pasquerilla East decided to go for the rare 3-point conversion and the win, rather than attempting to tie the game at 8-8. Lynch’s pass fell incomplete, and the 8-6 margin would be the final. Despite the loss, which ended Pasquerilla East’s season, senior captain Megan Becker still has high hopes for the future.

“We feel like we laid the foundation for Pyro football and we are on the rise now,” Becker said.

Unfortunately for the Pyros, they will have to wait another year to find out.

Welsh Family 32, Badin 0

Perfection is the only way to describe Welsh Family.

In their route over Badin Sunday, the Whirlwinds played a flawless game on both sides of the ball. This win did not only solidify an undefeated 6-0 record for the season, it also gave the Welsh Family women the No. 1 seed in the Gold League playoffs.

On offense, junior captain Jenni Gargula threw every pass right into her receivers’ hands and deftly kept the ball away from the Bullfrog defenders. Welsh Family never punted and scored a touchdown on every possession. The receivers worked efficiently, running the routes perfectly and then turning down field.

On defense, Welsh Family didn’t give Badin a chance to move the ball. Badin had only two first downs the whole game – both in the second half. The Whirlwinds played shutdown pass defense and managed to break up many Bullfrog passes. Welsh Family was too big and too quick for the entire Badin team.

“The defense takes a lot of pressure off of me because you know that the team isn’t going to score much,” Gargula said.

Gargula said the team-first spirit and the coaching quality was the difference maker for the team.

“Our coaches spend so much time with the team and give us so many different options with the offense,” Gargula said.

“We will really be only working on the same things as always,” Gargula said. “Offensive plays, defense, the same things basically.”

The loss took Badin out of the Gold League playoffs.

Cavanaugh 6, Farley 0

Cavanaugh held on for a difficult win over Farley Sunday.

Both Cavanaugh, at 3-3, and Farley, at 2-2-2, are guaranteed playoff berths. Both defenses played well and limited the opposing offenses. The first half ended scoreless.

The second half would not change for the defenses. Chaos sophomore Erin Dolan scored the only touchdown after an interception left her offense at the 3-yard line.

Cavanaugh coach Aidan Fitzgerald was very proud of his team.

“It’s the hardest we’ve played all year,” he said. “We were missing three coaches coming in, and we just did a good job of working as a team.”

Farley’s coach, Matt Barcus, said that dropped passes hindered his team’s performance.

“We played really well, especially the defense,” Barcus said. “Dropped passes hurt. They were the missing pieces. We had four in a row at one point.”

Pasquerilla West 25, Lyons 7

As his offense ran out on the field Sunday, Pasquerilla West coach Paul Wallenberg shouted one last bit of instruction: “Score early and score often.”

It was with this mantra in mind that the Purple Weasels beat Lyons at Riehle Field.

After punting on its first drive, Pasquerilla West got the ball back on a turnover on downs and did exactly what its coach instructed. After six plays covering 27 yards, freshman quarterback Grace Orians ran five yards for the first score of the game.

The second half went much the same way for the Weasels, as their captain, senior wide receiver and running back Tina Martinek scored two more touchdowns, one on a pass from Orians and the other on a two-yard run.

Martinek said this was all part of the plan.

“[Scoring early] had always been one of our game plans,” she said. “It’s … nice to get up early and put it away and not have to worry about it at the end of the game. It felt good to be up by that much. Obviously it makes the rest of the game easier.”

At the half, Lyons captain and senior middle linebacker Judith Kaczmarek said the defense drew inspiration from a recent Notre Dame triumph.

“We were trying to compare ourselves to the Notre Dame defense. We said that if Maurice Crum, Jr. could make some interceptions and the defense could help win a game when the offense was having trouble, we thought we could, too,” Kaczmarek said.

Lyons started the second half on the offensive side of the ball. The Lions finally got on the scoreboard with a 65-yard drive, capped by a 20-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Claire Connell to junior receiver Shannon Brady.

The biggest play of the drive, though, came earlier. Connell quickly broke the huddle and, seeing that the defense was not yet settled, connected with sophomore receiver Maria Petnuch.

“[That drive] turned our entire mood around,” Kaczmarek said. “We were really quiet. It just brought a spark of hope into the second half. It didn’t come through in the end, but we played a much stronger offense in the second half but we just couldn’t get into the end zone.”

Lyons would not score again. The Pasquerilla West defense held the Lions scoreless for the remainder of the half, and Martinek added to her impressive stat line by taking an interception back for a touchdown on the last play of the game.

With the win, the Purple Weasels return to the playoffs, a goal Martinek said the team had in mind all along.

“I can speak for the seniors; we’re all glad just to be playing,” she said. ” … All season, [from] before the first game, we’ve told the freshmen [that] we’ve been really successful the last few years and we’re looking to the Stadium … and I think we have a good shot of getting there and winning when we do.”

Walsh 12, McGlinn 12

McGlinn only had eight players Sunday – but that’s all it needed.

The Shamrocks entered their game with Walsh at 0-3, while the Wild Women were 4-0, but McGlinn managed a hard-fought tie.

The Wild Women were without starting quarterback Mary Claire Sullivan, leaving freshman Lindsay Schanzer as the signal-caller. She threw four interceptions but ran for a 25-yard touchdown on an option right.

“It was really great to see Lindsay step up as a freshman and lead the team. She deserves a lot of credit for going out there,” Walsh offensive coordinator Michael Wakim said. “She had some big shoes to fill, and I know she is going to be great in the future.”

The offense started off playing conservatively, sticking with short passes or the option, but expanded the playbook in the second half. Schanzer’s touchdown gave Walsh an early 6-0 lead, but the Wild Women surrendered a touchdown pass late in the second half. The Shamrocks, however, failed to convert the one-point conversion.

In the second half, Walsh senior Julie Campbell intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown to put the Wild Women up 12-6.

“We put a lot of pressure on our defense with the amount of offensive turnovers. Julie Campbell comes up big for us every game,” Wakim said. “She’s the best cover corner in the league and the anchor of our defense. She plays with the heart of a champion and has a real nose for the ball.”

Wakim decided to go for the two-point conversion instead of the easier one-pointer. Schanzer’s overthrew a pass intended for wide receiver Siera Smith, leaving the Walsh lead at only six points.

“I take full responsibility for the way we went out there today; there were mistakes on my part that led to the overall outcome of the game,” Wakim said. “Overall, this game gives us a chance to refocus and work even harder at practices to attain perfection.”

McGlinn drove down the field with a combination of screens and long passes and evened the score on a long touchdown pass. The Shamrocks failed the conversion, leaving the final score at 12-12.

“As a team we were disappointed by a tie because we were undefeated, but it was an eye-opening experience,” Walsh senior captain Marie Brenner said. “Now we know areas we can improve upon going into the playoffs.”

Pangborn 13, Lewis 6

From the opening whistle, it was all about No. 10.

Pangborn’s sophomore captain, Meghan Bescher, who wears the number, took over on both sides of the ball as the Phoxes beat Lewis 13-6 Sunday at Riehle Field.

Bescher began the game with a bang, intercepting a pass from Lewis sophomore quarterback Catherine Guarnieri on the Chicks’ opening drive. On fourth-and-goal of Pangborn’s drive, Bescher caught a six-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Gabby Tate. She then scored the extra point, giving Pangborn a quick 7-0 lead.

Tate and Bescher hooked up for another score on the last play of the first half, this time on a 13-yard pass. After a failed extra point attempt, the half ended with Pangborn leading 13-0.

Despite the deficit, Lewis coach Perry Shoemaker had some encouraging words for his team in the huddle.

“I just told them that our defense was hanging tough, to keep it up, and that we could easily score on our own,” he said. “I told them that they weren’t out of the game by any stretch.”

The Chicks’ defense heeded its coach’s advice; Pangborn’s first drive of the second half was cut short after junior Sarah Trent intercepted a Tate pass. The subsequent drive resulted in a touchdown on a nine-yard scamper by Guarnieri, bringing the score to 13-6.

Shoemaker and the rest of the team were happy to get on the board so quickly in the second half.

“It was good to see,” Shoemaker said. “We didn’t make any major changes; we just fine-tuned some of the routes to try to get open. Getting the touchdown just confirmed that our scheme could work.”

The Chicks defense came out stronger in the second half, holding the Phoxes scoreless and putting much more pressure on Tate. The pressure was due in large part to senior captain Alex Persley, who recorded three sacks on the defensive line.

While Pangborn’s season will continue in the playoffs, the Chicks played their last game Sunday. Despite the ending, Shoemaker was happy with his team’s effort this season.

“This wasn’t the 0-6 Lewis team from last year – this was the start of something great,” Shoemaker said. “Our defense was outstanding all the way through, and our young offense really came together toward the end of the season.”

Bescher finished the game with eight catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns on offense and two interceptions on defense. This effort, though, was nothing spectacular in her mind.

“There was obviously a little more weight on this last game, seeing as a win would ensure a playoff spot, but I played the same way I always do,” she said.