Phoxes seek title after two letdown seasons
Benjamin Horvath | Thursday, November 20, 2014
When No. 3 Pangborn steps on to the field to challenge No. 1 Welsh Family for the interhall title at Notre Dame Stadium on Sunday, it will enter the game as a team that has already accomplished something big.After two straight years of losing in the semifinals, the Phoxes (7-1) finally broke through to get over the hump and into the stadium after a 34-20 win over second-seeded Pasquerilla East last Sunday. Senior receiver Liz Quinn said this run to the title game is a great way to finish out her career, especially after coming so close the past two years.
“It’s been devastating the past couple years to reach the semifinals and not be able to get to the championship,” Quinn said. “I think getting so close in the past seasons makes it even better to be able to get there in our senior year, and it would just be amazing if we win.”
The Phoxes began their run to the championship game with a first-round 27-0 rout over Cavanaugh, which set them up with an opportunity to avenge their lone loss of the season against the Pyros.
And after a 27-14 defeat on Oct. 12, Pangborn purged its demons, winning by two touchdowns to advance to the title game.
The Phoxes have yet to play Welsh Family this season. The Whirlwinds’ unblemished 8-0 record earned them the tournament’s top seed. In preparation for the championship showdown, the Phoxes watched the Whirlwinds in their semifinal victory over Ryan. Senior cornerback Anna McNamara said she noticed the Whirlwinds prolific passing attack, and said this is something her team must contain in order to come away with a victory this Sunday.
“We haven’t played them since [my] sophomore year, so we don’t know a whole lot about them, but from watching them we saw they have a really good steam with a strong quarterback,” McNamara said.
The passing game is not the only area of concern for the Phoxes defense — containing the running game is also something the squad’s captains emphasized as key in order to upset the undefeated Whirlwinds. Senior defensive end Ann Kebede said stopping the rushing game is something the Phoxes struggled with this past weekend, and in order to stop Welsh Family’s running attack, they must show a variety of formations and looks.
“Stopping the run is a major concern for us going into the game, and we just have to make sure we’re switching it up on the defensive side and keep them guessing,” Kebede said.
Pangborn’s defense has been among the statistical leaders in points allowed all season long and entered the playoffs allowing just 27 total points in six regular season games.
The Phoxes are among the leaders in scoring offense as well — they have scored less than 25 points just twice all season long — and look to spread the field and get the ball to their playmakers on the edge, junior receiver Grace Gallagher and sophomore receiver Heather Lystad. Phoxes senior quarterback Caitlin Gargan, whose five-touchdown performance in the semifinal round propelled her team to victory, said the spread attack is something the team incorporates into their offensive strategy.
“We’ve got a lot of receivers on the edge who have the ability to make some plays,” Gargan said. “We try and make that a part of our offense as much as possible.”
Quinn said a championship win would be a great way to finish up her, as well as her fellow seniors’, interhall careers.
“Flag football has been one of my favorite things here at Notre Dame, so it would be great to win and go out on top,” Quinn said.