Women’s Interhall Football: Cavanaugh squares off with wild card McGlinn
Joseph | Friday, October 29, 2010
As No. 3-seed Cavanaugh carries its perfect record into the playoffs, an underdog No. 6-seed McGlinn team will rely on its experienced offense to provide the spark needed to pull off the first round upset.
Cavanaugh (4-0) steamrolled through its division in the regular season. The Chaos compiled a 42-point differential en route to a perfect record. To ensure their continued success, the Chaos don’t feel the need to overhaul their playbook or style of play, but instead turn their attention to the little things.
“We are just trying to fine-tune all of our plays and get our execution down,” senior wide receiver Holly Hinz said. “Try to not really put anything new in, just try and perfect what we have.”
The biggest change that Cavanaugh will face in the playoffs, Hinz said, is playing teams that they haven’t seen before. The Chaos will face such a team this week, as they will line up against an experienced McGlinn (2-2) squad for the first time this year.
“We have a lot of seniors and juniors on the team,” McGlinn senior cornerback Caitlin Carlin said. “I think it’s going to help us in the playoffs, having been there before. Playoffs are a different level game-wise, so the upperclassmen and their leadership are going to be helpful for the younger girls on the team.”
The Shamrocks made the playoffs despite a four-point negative differential in the regular season, but they won’t let any regular season struggles affect their playoff goals.
“The championship game and winning the championship would be our goal,” Carlin said.
Still, McGlinn realizes that it has a long way to go and a lot to prove before they get a shot at the championship.
“We are just focusing on Cavanaugh for the first week and going from there,” Carlin said.
Cavanaugh is also taking its road to the Stadium one game at a time, as it is careful not to overlook McGlinn in the first round.
“I think just coming out with intensity now that its playoff time [is key],” Hinz said. “It’s really anything can happen, any team can win. We just have to make sure, when we come out, that we are ready to play.”
Cavanaugh and McGlinn will face off at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Farley vs. Pangborn
No. 4-seed Farley will take on No. 5-seed Pangborn this Sunday in the first round of the playoffs.
The Finest (3-1) and the Phoxes (3-1) both understand what it means to make the playoffs in such a competitive league.
“Making it to playoffs means that you have to show up ready to play your very best and expect the other team to do the same,” Farley senior captain Molly Casanova said. “Entering playoffs is a reminder that you can’t take any team lightly.”
Pangborn senior captain Gabby Tate is eager to show that her team has what it takes to play in Notre Dame Stadium for the championship. Last year, the Phoxes suffered a disappointing loss to Pasquerilla West in the semi-final game, falling just short of this goal.
“Ever since the beginning of the year, we have ended every practice by putting our hands together and shouting ‘stadium’,” Tate said. “Playing in [Notre Dame] Stadium has been a dream of mine ever since I first heard about interhall flag football on my campus tour as a high school senior. If we play each playoff game like I know we can, we fully expect to play in the championship.”
Both teams are preparing vigorously, hosting extra practices this week and developing new offensive and defensive schemes based on the opposition.
“We will be having an intense practice on Thursday because we want to give Farley everything we got,” Tate said. “Our coaches scouted Farley and we are working on some new plays based on their defense and our defense is working on ways to stop Farley’s versatile quarterback.”
The Finest will be looking to their tough defense to once again perform and hold Pangborn in check.
“I think our greatest strength is with our defense being able to limit the amount of points that are scored on us and allowing the offense more chances for possessions,” Casanova said.
The game will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Howard vs. Welsh Family
No. 1-seed Howard will look to continue its regular season dominance, while No. 8-seed Welsh Family is looking to build on newfound momentum and pull off the upset when the two sides clash this Sunday.
The Ducks (4-0) have cruised through Blue League play, winning all four of their games by an average margin of 20 points. Last week, they beat Pasquerilla East 26-0, clinching the top seed in the process. Even more encouraging for senior captain Kayla Bishop is that Howard is playing its best football when it counts.
“It felt really good to keep progressing last week,” Bishop said.
Bishop is especially pleased with her defense, which has given up only 13 points all year.
“Our defense has really stepped up individually,” Bishop said. “We’ve done a great job of covering our receivers and getting pressure on the quarterback.”
The Ducks can only hope that this year’s playoff run is as successful as last year’s, when they capped an undefeated season with a win in the championship game over Pasquerilla West.
“Going to the stadium last year was such a cool experience, especially for a dorm as small as Howard,” Bishop said. “That said, we expect Welsh Family to come out and play with a lot of heart. We’re taking them very seriously.”
The Whirlwinds (2-2) secured the last playoff spot in a pressure-packed 20-12 win over Ryan last week. That win was the culmination of an improbable turnaround for Welsh Family, which suffered a string of injuries in its first game and was forced to forfeit its second. The next week, they were able to field a team and went on to two close wins over Walsh and Ryan. After the rough start, they now sit just three wins from a championship.
“The first couple of games were frustrating, but we had confidence that we could get through it,” Whirlwinds senior captain Cari Pick said. “Now that we have that momentum, we feel we should be able to keep it going.”
While the odds may seem long, Pick doesn’t think her squad is done just yet.
“We’re expecting Howard to be tough, but we’ve been working well as a team in practice,” Pick said. “We think we’re up to the challenge.”
The quarterfinal showdown will take place 1 p.m. Sunday.
Pasquerilla West vs. Lewis
This Sunday No. 1-seed Pasquerilla West seeks to advance in the playoffs against wild card No. 7-seed Lewis. Both teams are confident going into their first playoff game coming off victories in their regular season finales.
The Pyros, led by senior captain Libby Koerbel, hope to keep their momentum moving at full force after a strong regular season.
“We, like every one else, are coming off fall break, but we have had some good practices this week,” Koerbel said. “We are not going to underestimate Lewis. We know they are a good team.”
Lewis, led by senior defensive lineman Sarah Ceponis and senior cornerback Mary McKeever, is excited to see what noise it can make in the playoffs.
“As the wild card, we realize our reputation is not as strong theirs, but we are excited to show them, and everyone else what we can do,” Ceponis said.
Offensively, Lewis is led by sophomore quarterback Connaught Blood and freshman wide receiver Colleen Haller.
“Blood has been making crucial plays for us all season,” Ceponis said. “When Blood finds Haller on the field, good things happen for us.”
Pasquerilla West hopes to counter the dangerous passing attack of Lewis with their ball-hawking defense.
“We have had an interception in every game so far this season,” Koerbel said. “We want more in this game. We want to keep consistent pressure on Lewis’s quarterback.”
Lewis is also confident in their defensive prospects in the upcoming matchup.
“We have a lot of new faces on defense this year, but everyone has come together and we are very confident defensively,” Ceponis said.
Both teams hope to keep their seasons alive an advance to the next level in their respective quests to conquer the playoffs and ultimately reach Notre Dame Stadium. Pasquerilla West and Lewis face off this Sunday at 4 p.m.