Squads to play in semifinals
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, November 6, 2015
No. 2 Stanford vs. No. 3 Morrissey – Maureen Schweninger
Stanford faces Morrissey this Sunday in a matchup eerily similar to the very same semifinal both teams faced in Notre Dame Stadium just one year ago.
The Manor (4-1) emerged from that encounter victorious, and Stanford senior linebacker Dan Babiak said it was a loss the Griffins (5-0) have not forgotten.
“It was a pretty tight game,” Babiak said. “They were just a little more prepared than we were. But they run pretty much the same thing as they did last year, so we’ve got a good idea of what we’re getting into. We just need to out there and play our game, force them to adjust to the way we play.”
Morrissey sophomore captain and quarterback Declan Zidar said the Manor are not making any major changes to prepare for the game.
“We’ve been to playoffs before, and we know what to do,” Zidar said. “Run the ball, defend it well. We’re honestly just trying to focus on it like a normal week.”
Morrissey’s run game was a highlight of last year’s championship squad and continues to be the team’s greatest strength this season. Babiak said defending the run is a special area of focus for the Griffins this week.
“Obviously, Morrissey runs a unique offense, a wing-T, and we need a special game plan to be able to essentially shut it down,” Babiak said. “So we’re focused on implementing that and making sure that we execute it in-game. It really all comes down to execution.”
The Griffins will have to learn from their experience 12 months ago in order to avenge last year’s loss. The game begins Sunday at 4:45 p.m. at LaBar Practice Complex.
No. 4 Keenan vs. No. 8 Dillon – Elizabeth Greason
Dillon and Keenan, who will meet in a semifinal game Sunday, started this season in very different places.
For Keenan (4-1), this year was about redemption after losing in last year’s final to Morrissey. Dillon (3-2), on the other hand, failed to make the playoffs last year and was looking to take this season one game at a time.
Dillon goes into this weekend’s matchup with plenty of momentum after taking down top-seeded St. Edward’s. Big Red sophomore captain John Walsh said he is excited about the energy the win brought to his team.
“The win got people excited throughout the league, and we are feeling especially good about it,” Walsh said.
Keenan junior captain Michael Koller said he is not concerned about Dillon’s underdog win.
“In interhall football, anyone can win any game,” Koller said. “We don’t focus on upsets or change strategy based on another team winning.”
The two teams have already gone head-to-head once this season, with Keenan prevailing, 5-0. But Koller said his team’s previous success against Dillon does not make the Big Red less of a threat.
“We are expecting them to come out strong since they want revenge,” Koller said. “We are going to play our game, clean up some mistakes and bring home the win.”
Walsh said he is excited to have a healthy team in the upcoming rematch.
“We got some guys back from injury, and we put some new wrinkles into the playbook,” Walsh said. “Right now, the goal is to beat Keenan. That’s it.”
Koller also said he has high hopes for the Knights.
“We can be a pretty dominant team,” Koller said. “Our goal is to win the championship.”
Keenan and Dillon will play at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at LaBar Practice Complex.
No. 1 Welsh Family vs. No. 4 Farley – Joe Everett
Welsh Family takes on Farley on Sunday with a place in the championship game at Notre Dame Stadium on the line.
While the Finest (6-1) pulled out a nail biter last Sunday, slipping past No. 5 Pasquerilla West by a score of 8-6, the Whirlwinds (6-1) had seemingly no trouble in their quarterfinal matchup, dispatching No. 8 Pangborn, 32-0. Whirlwinds captain and junior cornerback Sharon Chiang said she was pleased with her team’s focused improvement last week.
“Pangborn beat us last year in the championship, so it was nice to get a little revenge,” Chiang said. “Our pass offense and pass defense was something we were struggling with a bit, so we’re definitely improving where we need to.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s matchup, Chiang said the Whirlwinds will have their hands full trying to neutralize Farley’s offensive weapons.
“I think Farley is really good,” Chiang said. “I heard their quarterback’s fast, so we’ll have to watch out for her, especially when she starts scrambling”.
That quarterback is Farley junior Lizzie Moulton, one of two key players senior linebacker and co-captain Ali Buersmeyer expects to have a big game.
“We love [Lizzie] and all that she can do for us offensively,” Buersmeyer said. “[Senior co-captain and] safety Michelle Summers is a key part of our defense, which has a lot of experience considering all three captains play on that side of the ball.”
In fact, the entire team has experience in big games, as almost every Farley player has made it to the championship while on the Farley “B” team. In addition, Buersmeyer said she is confident in her team’s identity entering the matchup.
“We’ve had a lot of great team wins this year,” Buersmeyer said. “We’re focusing on sharpening our own skills while also adding some plays to the offense and defense, so I think we’ll adjust well to whatever Welsh Fam throws at us.”
However, Chiang, noting that Welsh Family’s “B” team has won the championship the past two seasons, beating Farley twice, said she believes she has a team talented and experienced enough to win this game and the championship.
“Our team is extremely well-rounded, so we don’t necessarily have a star player,” Chiang said. “All we need to do is play how we want to play”.
Kickoff between Welsh Family and Farley is at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Labar Practice Complex.
No. 2 Howard vs. No. 3 Ryan – Jackie Brebeck
A spot in the title game at Notre Dame Stadium is on the line Sunday when Ryan and Howard meet in the semifinals.
Ryan (5-0-2) is coming off a strong comeback against Lewis. Down 6-0 at halftime, Ryan came back out fired up to win and succeeded, with the final score being 24-6. The defense contributed significantly to this win through three pick-sixes. Captain Erin Clark said she attributes the defense’s success to the leadership.
“The defense has really been in sync, which is due to the leadership of Shawn Hall and Cathy Baxter,” Clark said.
As for the offense, Clark said the key for her team is to get into a flow.
“We do so much better when we settle down and get into a rhythm,” Clark said. “Staying calm on offense has been really key for us.”
Clark also said Howard will be a tough team to beat, and its goals for the game will be making smart decisions on offense.
“[We’ve] heard Howard is a great team, and [we] are definitely going to be prepared for them,” Clark said.
Howard (6-1) is coming off a big win as well — it had its first shutout of the season last Sunday in a 13-0 win against Cavanaugh. All 13 points were scored in the first half, and despite its quarterback being hurt, the team still rallied for the win.
Senior captain Stephanie Peterson said the key to beating Ryan is to continue playing well and having fun.
“[We want to] play like we played in the first half against Cavanaugh, come out with a lot of energy, have fun and win,” Peterson said.
For Howard, junior Kaitlyn Hegewald, senior Maria Ianni and sophomore Abbie Midlige are key players to watch, Peterson said.
Sunday’s game between Howard and Ryan will be at Labar Practice Complex at 2 p.m.