The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Women’s Interhall Football: Whirlwinds look to return to championship

Tim Singler, Barrick Bollman, Colin King, Kevin Baldwin, Megan Finneran and Matthew Robison | Friday, September 25, 2009

Welsh Family will begin its attempt to return to the championship game for the third consecutive year when it faces Howard Sunday.

Last year Welsh Family lost in its final game of the season, the championship game at Notre Dame Stadium. Despite losing a few seniors from that successful team, the Whirlwinds look to be loaded for a run to the championship game again this year.

“We lost a lot of seniors,” senior captain Tara Schimpf said. “But we are as strong as ever.”

This strength may come on the offensive side of the ball for the Whirlwind.

Featuring a new quarterback and a talented receiving corps, the team looks to be an offensive threat. Senior Demi Hueth will be taking the snaps for the Whirlwinds this season.

“[Hueth] is key for our offense,” said Schimpf.

The receivers, including sophomores Natalie Baldasare and Charlotte Seasly and junior Jamie Gardella, look to assist Hueth and the offense to reach new heights after the departure of four-year starting quarterback Jenni Gargula.

On the other side of the ball, the defense returns numerous experienced players who look to stop opposing offenses from scoring. Seniors Stephanie Vossler, Kara King, Julia Dombrowski and Schimpf lead the defense.

“We have an unconventional leadership style. It’s not leading by example so much as going to practice, sitting on the sidelines and heckling the other players,” King said. “We’re helping them to develop mental toughness.

“Except I’m really the only one who does the heckling. [The other seniors] aren’t so good at it.”

The Whirlwinds will not have an easy time obtaining a victory. Howard looks to be a strong team this year coming off a first-round playoff loss last season.

Despite having to play in a competitive league, the Ducks are eager to compete with the best.

“We’re in a tougher league this year, but we still expect to compete and earn a spot in the playoffs,” junior captain Kayla Bishop said.

To help earn that playoff spot, the team returns several key players. Wide receiver will be a strong point in the offense, as junior Kaitlin Robinson and senior Mary Jenkins aid the aerial attack.

On the other side of the ball, a tough defense anticipates keeping games low scoring as senior cornerback Emily Stewart leads it.

A strong, youthful freshman class adds excitement and talent for the team’s upcoming season.

Welsh Family will take on Howard at 2:00 p.m. Sunday at LaBar Field.

Pasquerilla West vs. Ryan

The established power Pasquerilla West plays the newly formed Ryan Hall Sunday.

Pasquerilla West features a junior- and senior-laden team, fresh off its semifinal appearance last year. The Purple Weasels are led by senior captains and four-year starters Alyssa Moya and Cynthia Curley. Junior quarterback Simone Bigi and senior offensive lineman Caitlin “Stitches” O’Connell are also sure to make an impact.

“We are extremely hungry this year,” senior Cynthia Curley said. “We have a lot of upperclassmen who wanted to get it done together this year and everyone’s willing to put in the time to be ready to play on Sunday.”

Ryan Hall, on the other hand, is fielding its inaugural interhall team. Despite this, the ladies of Ryan are not deterred.

“We expect to win every time we step on the field, and nothing less,” senior coach Justin Smith said. “We are going to be the most intimidating team in the league, and have a lot of fun week in and week out.”

Ryan Hall figures to feature a balanced offensive attack and an assignment based defensive strategy. Ryan does not highlight key players, instead adopting a team mentality. While one might expect Ryan to be at a natural disadvantage due to this being its initial year, that may not be the case.

“There are certainly some challenges involved in starting a team from scratch, but this was made easier by some veterans who really have a passion for football,” Smith said. “Add to this a talented crop of freshmen and I don’t think Ryan has any disadvantages from our competitors.”

Even though the two teams have never played before, there may be the makings of a rivalry.

“This game is a special game for us because or dorm priest, Fr. Joe, was just relocated to Ryan Hall and we’re still pretty torn up about it.” Pasquerilla West senior Cynthia Curley said. “He was our biggest football fan.”

The Purple Weasels will try to avenge the loss of Fr. Joe at 5:00 p.m. at LaBar Field Sunday.

Pangborn vs. Walsh

Pangborn looks to continue its success from 2008 when it encounters Walsh Sunday. Both the Phoxes and the Wild Women are coming off playoff seasons and look to continue their success in the 2009 opener.

Junior quarterback Gabby Tate leads the Phoxes. Tate and senior standout wide receiver Meghan Bescher spearhead a precision passing offense complemented by Tate’s scrambling abilities.

“Meghan is one of the most amazing athletes I’ve seen in my life,” Tate said. “If we could have her play almost every position, we would.”

Bescher will likely line up in the slot for most of Pangborn’s plays, but may take a few snaps under center. She will also be a key factor for a defense looking to retool from last year.

“We lost a core group of defensive seniors but have plenty of talented freshmen who should replace them,” Tate said.

The exodus of seniors has done nothing to reduce expectations for the year. Hopes are high at Pangborn.

“We’ve been practicing since the first week of school,” Tate said. “I’d say we’re one of the more intense teams in the league and we’re all very excited about the year.”

The intensity of the Phoxes does not daunt the Wild Women.

“We’re nicknamed the Wild Women for a reason,” senior captain Meghan Hadley said.

Walsh will look to establish a power running game led by a tandem of experienced tailbacks. They hope the combination of running offense and a bend but not break defense will propel them to victory Sunday.

“Our defense was the strength of last year’s team and looks to be so this year also,” said Hadley.

Pangborn and Walsh will compete for their first victory of the season Sunday at 6:00 p.m. at LaBar Field.

Farley vs. Lewis

When Farley takes on Lewis Sunday the two teams will both be looking to build upon successful seasons last year as each returns most of its talent.

Sunday’s matchup will be a test for the new Finest quarterback, sophomore Meghan Bastedo, who is supported by an experienced offense which includes junior running back Molly Casanova.

Farley’s defense returns most of its coverage unit in sophomore Katie Smith, junior co-captain Emma Klosterman and senior captain Caity Shepherd.

Klosterman is confident her Finest squad will give it their all on Sunday.

“We’re going to go out strong, [and] have fun,” she said.

The Finest are coming off a successful 4-2-1 2008 season, making it within a game of the championship last year with a narrow 12-7 loss to McGlinn in the semifinals.

“We want to go back to the stadium,” said Klosterman.

Shut out in their last meeting, this game will be a chance at revenge for the Chicks, led by enthusiastic captain, senior Tara Gilbride and new coaches from Siegfried.

“We’re turning around Lewis football,” Gilbride said.

The team lost a substantial amount of senior experience including some of last season’s big playmakers, including Katie Sushinsky and Catherine Guarineri at quarterback.

However there will be plenty of young talent stepping up to the challenge this year. Some names to watch are sophomores Lizzy Snow and Margot DeBot, playing both defensive line and offensive line, as well as freshman Connaught Blood as a key all-around utility player.

Gilbride believes that the Lewis defense, with speed and coordination, will be the deciding factor in Sunday’s game.

“[Our] defense is going to kick some butt,” she said. “They’re our biggest strength.”

The game will be kick off at 3:00 p.m. at LeBar Field Sunday.

Badin vs Cavanaugh

Both Badin and Cavanaugh are ready to prove themselves this season after not living up to their expectations last year. Practice scrimmages gave both teams a taste of what is to come, but this Sunday will bring the first actual game.

Badin is led by seniors Melissa Yisak and Kelley Daniels. Since it is the smallest women’s dorm on campus, numbers have often been a problem in the past. But this year is a different story.

“With a strong group of returning [players] and a slew of talented freshmen, we can keep legs fresh without sacrificing talent,” Daniels said. “All of our girls are starter material and can expect to get significant playing time.”

Offensively, the Bullfrogs are counting on junior Taylor Osicek, sophomores Ryan Cooney and Carli Fernandez and freshman Ashley Okonta to take control.

“Our coaches have worked to develop our offense into what is probably the most explosive and cohesive unit we’ve had since Badin went to the Stadium,” said Daniels.

Their defense is already looking powerful, ending their scrimmage last week with an interception by sophomore Mary Goodwin. Overall, the team is excited to finally show everyone what they’re made of.

“I don’t want to give too much away, but anyone who faces us best be prepared for an offense that knows how to put points up and a defense that can stand its ground,” said Daniels.

Cavanaugh is also ready for a fresh start. They hope to bounce back after a disappointing season last year to return to the stadium as they did in 2007.

Cavanaugh’s defense is led by junior Mo Mathias, who has taken a strong role in leading the line. Their offense is ready to take charge, led by senior Erin Dolan and junior Holly Hinz. Many freshmen have already stepped up to fill needed positions, and have done so with great success.

“Our goal is always to dominate and to win it in the stadium. We have a legacy to live up to. We’ll win it all this year if we consistently play with the intensity that Cavanaugh football is known for,” senior captain Sarah Cline said.

Badin and Cavanaugh will play Sunday at 4:00 p.m. at LaBar Field.

Breen-Phillips vs. Pasquerilla East

The winner of Sunday’s match-up between Breen-Phillips and Pasquerilla East will taste victory for the first time in over a year, as both were winless in 2008.

Both the Babes and the Pyros ended last season with a tie to their name, and each kept every game within striking distance. The two teams seem poised to rebound, and Sunday’s matchup will be their first chance to do so.

Led by senior captain and safety Stephanie Wuerdeman, the Babes have been training hard in preparation for this season.

“The girls have been working really hard in practice,” said Wuerdeman. “We’ve installed a lot of new plays that we think are pretty tough to cover.”

Similarly, the Pyros have not been slacking off in the offseason, and are ready to come away with the win.

“We have very high expectations for this year,” said senior captain and quarterback Tara Pillai. “Based on how close the games were [last year], we think this year can be much improved.”

The rebuilding process may pose obstacles for both the Pyros and the Babes.

“Building our team from the ground up has allowed us to shake it up and grow stronger than ever,” said the Babes’ Wuerdeman. “Luckily we’ve kept the greater part of our defense intact.”

“The biggest obstacle will be to see how we handle adversity and get into the habit of winning,” Pillai said. “Pasquerilla East has not had many wins over the last three years, but most of those losses have been in very close games, so we need to learn how to finish [games].”

Both captains seem confident in their team’s ability to come away with the victory.

Only one team will do so when Breen-Phillips and Pasquerilla East face off Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at LaBar Field.