Force moves on to title game as they defeat Militia in battle of undefeated teams

With the 2013 postseason marking the third consecutive playoff encounter between the Chicago Force and the Boston Militia, stakes were high as the winner would advance to the 2013 WFA National Title Game. As both clubs were undefeated, pressures mounted on both sides as each team employed a different offense.

A highly potent running attack led by 2,000-yard rusher Whitney Zelee signified Boston’s charge to the conference championship game, while the Chicago Force depended on the rocket arm of Sami Grisafe.

The talent on each squad was remarkable as both contributed players to the US National Team that captured gold at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds. Boston sent four players to Team USA; Adrienne Smith Mia Brickhouse, Victoria Eddy and Stephanie Jeffers.

Of note, nine members from the Force roster competed for Team USA. Quarterback Sami Grisafe headlined a group that featured Jeanette Gray, Brandy Hatcher, Jamie Menzyk, Elizabeth Okey, Tami Engelman, Dawn Pederson and Ashely Berggren. In addition, Force head coach John Konecki was also named as bench boss for Team USA.

Lazier Field provided the backdrop for this intense rivalry as the National Football Conference crown was at stake. Boston received the kickoff and Asia Landrum ran it back 49 yards to give the squad great field position. Unable to convert on a fourth-down play, Boston was unable to capitalize on the impressive kickoff return.

The first score of the game came courtesy of a highlight-reel play by Jessica Javelet. An exchange of punts put Chicago on their own 10-yard line. Running a sweep around the right sideline, Javelet ran for daylight on a remarkable 90-yard touchdown. It provided Chicago with the confidence to counter the undefeated Militia’s premier running game.

Having won the national title in 2012 with the San Diego Surge, Javelet would prove to be a shrewd acquisition for Chicago. She would log two more touchdowns as part of a punishing running game for Chicago.

While it is not their traditional method to run the ball on offense, it was part of a big statement against a Boston team that boasted the best running game in the WFA. Despite Grisafe’s reduced impact on the offense, she would make her presence felt. Ashley Berggren would catch a 20-yard touchdown pass from Grisafe in the second quarter, as the first half closed with a convincing 26-0 lead at halftime.

Meanwhile, Whitney Zelee, the first woman in WFA history to log a 2,000-yard season could only manage 13 yards on eight carries in the first half.
Once again relying on Zelee, Boston would wear down Chicago’s defense in the second half. Zelee would score three touchdowns as she returned to form. Touchdown runs of 5, 6 and 76 yards put Boston back into the game. Quarterback Allison Cahill would also throw a touchdown pass to Adrienne Smith.
Despite the momentum, Boston’s high-powered running game would be unexpectedly cooled off.

A half-hour delay in the fourth quarter (due to lightning) only added to the tension as Boston was looking to overcome its 39-27 deficit. Due to the rainfall, the ball became slippery as the elements became an unforeseen opponent for both squads.
Despite their best efforts, Boston was unable to come back. Zelee would accumulate 220 rushing yards and 54 receiving yards against the Force, giving them their toughest test of the postseason. Of note, the Force defense would allow 362 yards. Despite a weak run defense, the Force managed to sack Allison Cahill six times.

Boston’s hopes were squashed when Jennifer Dulski recovered a fumble in the end zone for the Force as the final was 46-27. Dulski’s ten tackles and one sack performance earned her the nod as the Defensive Player of the Game. Deirdre Hort’s seven tackles and Nakita Bowman’s five were best among the members of the Boston defense.

Statistically, Grisafe would only log 183 yards while completing 17 of 29 passes. Jessica Javelet carried the load as she rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns. In the second half, Darcy Leslie added another 70 rushing yards for the Force, while Jeanette Gray had seven receptions.
The Force now advance to the WFA National Title Game where they will be competing against the Dallas Diamonds. The August 3 contest in San Diego will be broadcast on ESPN as neither franchise has ever won the WFA title. With Sami Grisafe announcing her retirement, drama will be high as she looks for her first-ever championship.

Total Divas provides window into competitive world of women’s wrestling in WWE

Debuting on July 28, 2013, E! Television offers fans of World Wrestling Entertainment an opportunity into the world of its Divas Division with the new reality series Total Divas. Featuring seven Divas, ranging from veteran performers to several rookies, the pecking order is highly evident.total_divas_h_2013
Airing right after the popular E! series, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, it struggled to retain the lead-in audience of 2.8 million viewers who viewed the drama with the Kardashians. While Total Divas featured 885,000 viewers, it still made for the most watched premiere on the network in almost one year.

With the Bella Twins featured in several promotions for the series, there is no denying that they are the true attraction of the show. Along with Natalya (Nattie) Niedhart, they comprise the veterans of the reality series. Cameron and Naomi are members of The Funkadactyls, dancers who help introduce Brodus Clay into the ring. The rookies feature Eva Marie and 19 year-old Jo-Jo Offerman.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the episode “Welcome to the WWE” is the personal lives of the Bellas. Brie is involved with former champion Daniel Bryan, while Nikki is in a relationship with current WWE champion John Cena (who is divorced from Elizabeth Huberdeau). One scene in the episode shows Nikki in San Diego with a Range Rover that Cena supposedly bought for her.

As the main storyline of the program was the controversy regarding the Bellas getting a match at WrestleMania 29, one cannot help but wonder if their personal relationships with Bryan and Cena did not open doors for the highly desired wrestling spot. With Nattie Niedhart denied her opportunity to wrestle in the biggest event of the year, she cannot help but spout frustration over the fact that the Bellas were gone for a year.

The sad irony is that this marks the second time that a member of the world-famous Hart wrestling family was betrayed on TV. Bret Hart’s documentary Wrestling With Shadows was an unlikely witness to the infamous Montreal Screwjob, which was a blackeye in wrestling.

As the niece of Bret, the anguish and attempt to hold back tears with a brave face is all too evident. This milder screwjob features a meeting with Jane Geddes, the Vice-President of WWE Talent Relations. Featured in the annual Sports Illustrated Where Are They Now? special issue in 2013, the former LPGA golfer discussed her same-sex relationship.

With due deference to Geddes, while it is encouraging and empowering to see a woman as Vice-President in such a male-dominated field as pro wrestling, her position is one that should only be handled by a former wrestler (whether it be male or female), due to the sensitivity of the politics. While she has served as a Senior VP for Tournament Operations and Player Services in the LPGA, she just seems like an odd fit for the job. Having never wrestled, she comes across as cold and distant.

Truly adding insult to injury is the fact that Geddes asks Niedhart to be a chaperone for new arrivals Eva-Marie (whom Geddes asks to dye her hair blonde) and Jo-Jo. While Jo-Jo is a very humble individual who looks like she is willing to learn, Eva-Marie is highly ambitious and is not shy about expressing her desire to climb to the top of the ranks. Her ambitions are to be seen in greater detail in the second episode.

Although Eva Marie’s ambition and the Bella Twins visions of grandeur makes the 1980s rivalry between Cindy Lauper, Wendy Richter and the Fabulous Moolah look pretty tame, there is no question that the claws are out.

With the world of pro wrestling as one that is scripted, there is no telling how much of the content in this reality show truly is real. For now, it is an intriguing insight into a division of the WWE’s wrestling roster that hardly gets enough exposure.

Proud athletic background to be characteristic of second Royal Baby on the way

While the world celebrates the arrival of William and Kate’s newborn baby boy, George Alexander Louis, there is another Royal baby that will soon arrive also. Zara Phillips, a medalist at the 2012 London Summer Games, is the granddaughter of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Currently pregnant, her child will also be part of the House of Windsor’s royal bloodline.

Having won European and World champions in equestrian events, she earned a silver medal in Equestrian at London 2012 – awarded to her by her mother. The London Games marked her first appearance competing in the Summer Games.

Appropriately, the debut for Phillips came on home soil. With cousins William and Harry, along with other Royal Family members, including her mother, grandfather, along with Prince Charles and Camilla cheering her on from the VIP section, it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. The competition was held at Greenwich Park, London’s oldest royal park.

Of note, both of her parents were former Summer Games competitors. Her mother Princess Anne participated in the 1976 Montreal Games, while her father, Captain Mark Phillips won medals 16 years apart. He would win gold at the 1972 Munich Games while claiming a silver at the 1988 Seoul Games.
Sitting fifteenth in line to the throne, the 32-year-old is also expecting a child. Married to former English rugby union player Mike Tindall, the 2006 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award Winner is expecting her child in March 2014. Having met Tindall in 2003 when England claimed the Rugby World Cup, the two tied the knot on July 30, 2011.

Her child (which shall be the second cousin to George Alexander Louis) shall be sixteenth in line to the throne. The aforementioned Princess Anne is eleventh in line, while her brother is twelfth, respectively.

While Zara does not hold a royal title herself, there is no denying that the royal bloodline in question (this baby shall mark the fourth great grandchild for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II) carries with it great prestige. Although Zara’s child will not grow up in a palace like George Alexander Louis, the birth will be an event that will be newsworthy throughout the British Commonwealth.

The role of mother will add to an already impressive list of endeavors, ranging from serving as Royal Patron to Cancer Research UK to designing equestrian outfits for Musto Outdoor Clothing. While all signs point to a royal baby with a normal upbringing, there is no question that Zara’s plunge into athletics, charitable work and worthy causes makes her more than just a mother, but a great role model.

Boston Militia and Chicago Force on collision course for highly anticipated playoff clash

While the epic July 20 confrontation consisting of the Boston Militia and Chicago Force shall be one for the ages, there is no question to many fans that this match just might be the real WFA title game. The Conference Championship match between these two undefeated titans harkens back to the early 1990’s of NFL football. Back then, the NFC championship games that featured the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys were called by several members of the media (including Sports Illustrated) as the real Super Bowl.

From an offensive perspective, both clubs rely on completely different methods to win games. Boston is a rushing machine, led by Whitney Zelee, the first woman in pro football to register a 2,000-yard season. Having also scored 40 touchdowns, she is able to keep the Militia competitive in any contest.

On the other hand, Chicago is an efficient passing unit, led by the rifle arm of Sami Grisafe, the greatest female quarterback to have never won a WFA title. As the Most Valuable Player of the 2013 IFAF Women’s World Championships, Grisafe led the United States to its second straight gold medal. With a sparkling 42 touchdown passes, no lead is safe against Chicago.

A key component in the success of Grisafe is her remarkable offensive line. Rosalyn Bennett, Tami Engelman, Jamie Menzyk, Dawn Pederson and Becky Thuestad provide protection for a high powered offense that shows no signs of being contained. With such a remarkable presence in front of Grisafe, it provides her with the time she needs to pick apart opposing defenses.

The 84-0 whitewashing that the Atlanta Phoenix suffered at the hands of the Force is testament to Grisafe’s passing skills. Completing 31 of 38 passes, Grisafe scorched Atlanta with 546 passing yards and an astounding 10 touchdown passes.

After Kenyetta Grigby of the DC Divas shredded Boston’s defense for five rushing touchdowns in the conference semi-finals, it provides the Force with a blueprint on how to overpower them. With Grisafe leading such an offensive juggernaut, Boston’s defense may find itself quickly overwhelmed.

In the brief history of the WFA, the rivalry between these two has only added to the drama of the playoffs. This year marks the third consecutive season that they play against each other in the postseason. In 2011, Boston overwhelmed Chicago by a convincing 50-23 score in the WFA title game. Last season, Chicago avenged their loss from 2011 with a nail-biting 35-34 win.

While both franchises employ completely different styles to win games, their success cannot be questioned. The key factor in the rubber match between shall come down to defense. While Boston has allowed more than 100 points during the season, Chicago has allowed only 60.

Chicago uses a man-to-man coverage in their backfield, neutralizing any opponent’s passing game. Boston has managed to overcome any defensive inadequacies with their running game. Regardless of the outcome, this match is destined to be a classic, as some of the biggest stars in the game collide in a match that should provide fireworks that will become the fodder of legend in generations to come.

Force and War Angels make strong impressions in WFA quarterfinal playoffs

As both the Chicago Force and the Central Cal War Angels look to win a WFA title which has eluded them for several seasons, strong yet impressive statements were made in their postseason victories.

Their playoff quarterfinal was a conflict of undefeated teams as they hosted the 9-1 Atlanta Phoenix. With several Force players (including quarterback Sami Grisafe) having helped the United States win the gold medal at the 2013 IFAF Women’s World Championships, the squad was running on all cylinders.

On the strength of 14 touchdowns, Chicago decimated an Atlanta squad that looked mortal. The 84-0 lopsided win was nothing short of a statement. Of note, the defense has only allowed 60 points all season long. With the club looking for its first WFA championship, Chicago is not showing any signs of being intimidated whatsoever.

As their first possession resulted in the game winning touchdown, Chicago showed remarkable confidence. Brandy Hatcher helped get the Force across the field. This was complemented by Jeanette Gray (who played with Grisafe on Team USA at the IFAF Worlds) bringing the squad to Atlanta’s 16-yard line on a 31-yard pass. Grisafe would connect with Ashley Berggren for the touchdown. On the two-point conversion, Mary Choules ran into the end zone as Chicago enjoyed the 8-0 advantage.

While Grisafe impressed with a remarkable 10 touchdown performance, the star of the game might have been Jessica Gray. With 7 touchdown receptions and 334 receiving yards, her abilities may be the key to championship glory on August 3 in San Diego.

Waiting for them in the Conference Championship shall be the Boston Militia. Their match signifies the third consecutive team that these storied franchises will meet in the postseason. Boston bested Chicago by a 50-23 tally in the 2011 WFA Championship game. Last season, the two met in the Conference Championship with Chicago narrowly winning by a 35-34 margin. As both franchises are undefeated this season, defense shall likely emerge as the defining factor for the victorious squad.

Should Chicago qualify for the WFA Title Game this season, their possible opponent could be the Central Cal War Angels. In their playoff quarterfinal, the War Angels had to tangle with the defending WFA champs, the San Diego Surge. Despite the pedigree of being a champion, the Surge ran into some unexpected obstacles.
Boasting one of the best offenses in the league, the Surge ran into a War Angels that was extremely efficient. Managing to score only 14 points, the Surge were stopped twice on goal line stands. LeAndre Smith and Ashley Thiner intercepted Surge passes as their offense that was sputtering throughout the game.

Central Cal quarterback Chantel Wiggins registered four touchdown passes, including three to Jamie Fornal. Lisa King would grab the other touchdown for Central Cal. Another key for the War Angels was the ability of their running back duo Destanie Yarbrough and LaStar Brown. Their successful running attack consumed time on the clock while exhausting the Surge defense. In addition, they earned a rushing touchdown each.

It marks the second consecutive game in which the dynamic duo registered an impressive running performance. Against the Utah Jynx, the two combined for over 300 rushing yards in a 65-6 win during the second round of playoffs.

With an 11-0 mark, the War Angels will compete against the undefeated Dallas Diamonds. Yarbrough and Brown will need to bring their A-game against the Diamonds. With a defense that has allowed less than 100 points, the Diamonds will be prepared to stymie their ground game.

As both franchises look to maintain their momentum in the next round of postseason play, there is no question that they have both have already made an impression. Representing football at its best, the tireless efforts and personal sacrifices of these gridiron heroes is with one goal in mind; a date on August 3 for the National Championship in San Diego.

Boston Militia rolls on as Whitney Zelee earns another 200-yard rushing game

As the 2013 Women’s Football Alliance playoff picture intensifies, a weekend of quarterfinal action results in high scoring affairs. With several undefeated teams still in the chase for the championship, the Boston Militia are looking to stake their claim as the league’s finest franchise.
A grudge match between the Boston Militia and the DC Divas encompassed one of several July 13 conflicts. Earlier in the season, Whitney Zelee ran for over 300 yards against an overwhelmed DC opponent. Looking for redemption, DC took the first lead of the game on a 3-yard score by Kenyetta Grigsby.

Once again, Zelee provided the answer for an undefeated Boston squad not accustomed to trailing in games this season. She would touch the ball on the first play from scrimmage and it was all Boston needed. Zelee would streak into the end zone on a 51-yard touchdown run.

With the momentum quickly shifting in Boston’s favor, Vicky Eddy would pick off DC quarterback Allyson Hamlin. Lining up behind center, Allison Cahill would score on a 10-yard run for the Militia. In addition, she would also run into the end zone for a two-point conversion afterwards.
Facing an eight point deficit, Grigsby put the DC offense on her shoulders. A drive that consumed nine plays would result with Grigsby shredding the Boston defense for the touchdown.

Once again, Cahill would reply for Boston. A drive that only required three plays ended with Cahill running for a seven-yard score. While Boston extended their lead back to eight points, it would not last for long. Facing a pass interference play on the next series of plays, Boston could not answer the Grigsby running attack. She would scamper into the end zone for her third touchdown of the half, as the lead was back to just one point.
Grigsby was not yet finished for the Divas. Having successfully recovered an onside kick, the Divas were back on offense. Employing the same strategy, the Divas handed off the ball to Grigsby, who dashed into the end zone on a 38-yard run.

Before halftime, Boston managed to regain the lead. With the ball on the 31-yard line of DC, Zelee would run to daylight on a 21-yard run as the score was now 29-28 for Boston.

On the first possession of the third quarter, Boston relied on its running game. Complemented by Dorothy Donaldson, Zelee masterfully orchestrated the impressive Boston rushing attack. With the ball on the Divas’ one-yard line, Cahill popped into the end zone as the score was 36-28.

Despite the setback, DC did not panic. Employing their own remarkable running game, Grigsby continued to be the anchor of their offensive attack. Boston continued to struggle in determining how to contain Grigsby. She would continue to punish the defense as she marched into the end zone for her fifth touchdown of the game.

The turning point of the game came on the ensuing kickoff. Boston fumbled the ball and the Divas recovered. Trailing by only two points, the Divas were eager to return on offense and work towards regaining the lead. Much to their dismay, a fumble resulted in Boston regaining the ball. Tiana Liu recovered the fumble in what helped turn the tide in the game.

Zelee would run 45 yards into the end zone, nullifying any attempt at the Divas to get back into the game. With DC trailing by a 44-34 score, the offense played with panic. On their next possession, the club fumbled again as Molly Goodwin recovered the ball for a headstrong Boston squad.
The fumble would prove to be costly as Boston scored another touchdown. With two touchdowns scored off turnovers, Boston had control of the game. A demoralized DC squad was unable to get back into the game.

With 6:50 remaining, Cahill scored again as Boston enjoyed a 24-point lead. She would finish the game with 67 yards, while Zelee had another remarkable showing. She ground out 254 yards, while Tiamfook gained 97 yards. Prevailing by a 58-34 tally, Boston is one step closer towards playing for their third national championship in franchise history.

Capital Area Lady Gladiators competitors highlight MWFL’s All-Decade Team selections

As the longest-running Canadian sporting league for women, the Maritime Women’s Football League is celebrating its landmark tenth anniversary season. Part of the celebration included the announcement of an All-Decade Team.

Of all the franchises in the league, the Capital Area Lady Gladiators (based out of Fredericton, New Brunswick) had a league-best 11 players on the All-Decade Team. Leading the way is one of the greatest players in league history; Alex Black.
Along with Lisa Harlow of the Saint John Storm, she holds a record seven All-Star nods. The franchise player for the red and gold, she is also its quarterback. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that she is the only player with seven consecutive All-Star nods, ranging from 2006 to 2012.

In addition, she has gained two awards in her storied career. During her rookie campaign of 2006, a teenaged Black earned the Most Outstanding Player on Offense award. Two years later, she was recognized as the Most Outstanding Player in the entire league.
Robyn Neill and Kristin Chatterton are not only All-Decade Team selections, but played with Black on the silver-medal winning Canadian National Women’s Team from the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds in Vantaa, Finland. Although Neill is a prominent offensive lineman, and Chatterton is an anchor on defense, they helped the Lady Gladiators reach the 2012 SupHer Bowl.

Prior to competing with the Lady Gladiators in 2012, Chatterton was a three time MWFL All-Star selection with the rival Moncton Vipers. Earning the All-Star nods in 2009, 2010 and 2011, her signing with the Glads yielded remarkable results. In addition to a fourth consecutive All-Star nod, she capped off her season with the Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award.

Starring on the offensive line since her teens, Neill is the engine that runs the offensive line. As a four-time MWFL All-Star, she is more than just an elite blocker, but a tremendous leader. She would learn her craft from Courtney Hallett, the 2005 Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman. Her mark on the Gladiators is unique as she is one of only three Glads competitors to be named to the All-Decade Team and the first MWFL All-Star team in league history.

One of the most versatile players in franchise history, Julia Coleman earned All-Star nods on both offense and defense. The 2007 season would signify one of her finest ever. Earning the Most Outstanding Defensive Back Award, she would also earn her second consecutive All-Star nod, respectively. Four years later, Coleman would fulfill her legacy as one of the finest defensive players in the league’s nascent history by grabbing the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award.

Part of the inaugural MWFL All-Star squad in 2005, Michelle Harrison was also a recipient of the Unsung Hero Award. She was joined on the All-Decade Team by the likes of Natasha Canning, Grace Hallihan, Edna Jewett and Connie Timmons. The foursome share four MWFL All-Star nods on offense and five selections on defense.

With volunteers and coaches also recognized on the All-Decade Team, Michelle Coleman and Cheryl O’Leary proudly represent the squad. Coleman boasts an MWFL All-Star selection from 2009, while O’Leary is making the transition to coaching.

While she still competes, she has also volunteered in an executive capacity with the Glads, while serving as an offensive line coach. For the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, she was a mentor coach for Team Canada, serving on Olivier Eddie’s special teams unit. Her future in coaching puts the ensures great success will continue for the signature franchise of the MWFL.