Whirlwinds remain unbeaten, top Ryan
Christine Mayuga | Monday, November 17, 2014
No. 1 seed Welsh Family pulled away from No. 4 Ryan, 34-21, on Sunday to remain unbeaten on the season and secure a spot in the interhall championship in Notre Dame Stadium.
Within the next two minutes, Welsh Family added to its lead, tacking on a 35-yard touchdown. This time Ryan responded, as a trick play by sophomore quarterback Kathleen Conaty allowed her to run 20 yards downfield to the end zone.
With twelve seconds left in the first half, Ryan sophomore linebacker and receiver Clare Conaty, Kathleen’s sister, nabbed an interception. The efforts by the Conaty sisters left the Wildcats only one score behind the Whirlwinds going into halftime, 13-7.
Despite several successful rushes, Ryan was unable to convert its opening drive of the second half into a touchdown. After getting the ball back, Welsh Family sophomore running back Francesca Mancuso ran 35 yards for a touchdown.
The Wildcats quickly retaliated when Kathleen Conaty connected with Clare on a 20-yard touchdown pass.
A touchdown by Welsh Family with six minutes left in the second half made a comeback by the Wildcats look unlikely, until Clare Conaty caught a second touchdown to bring the Wildcats within seven points, as the Whirlwinds led 28-21.
However, a catch-and-run for a touchdown by Whirlwinds sophomore receiver Ariel Navotas with just over a minute left foiled Ryan’s hopes for a game-winning drive and put the final score at 34-21.
The Whirlwinds are the only remaining undefeated team going into the championship.
“It means a lot,” Welsh Family senior captain and wide receiver Natalie Branch said. “We’ve been playing really well this season and we worked incredibly hard for this.”
Claire Conaty said she was proud of Ryan’s ability to overcome several obstacles throughout the season, including the early injury of senior captain Tatum Snyder.
“We’ve had different people step up into different leadership roles,” Conaty said. “Our quarterback Kathleen Conaty has really come into her own. [Junior] receiver Erin Clark and [sophomore] linebacker Shawn Hall have really stepped up as well.”
Many of Welsh Family’s players have experience playing in Notre Dame Stadium, as the Whirlwinds’ B-team won the championship last year against Farley.
“We’ve made it to the championship two years in a row but [how we are going to prepare for the championship this year] is kind of a secret,” Mancuso said.
Welsh Family will face Pangborn for the championship in Notre Dame Stadium on Sunday at 2 p.m.