After knocking on the door for so many seasons, the Seattle Mist has knocked it down in 2013. Coming off a victory in the inaugural Pacific Cup against the BC Angels from LFL Canada, the stars seemed to be aligned for the ambitious fifth-year squad.
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Building on the momentum of a Cup triumph, the Mist has stormed out to a dream season in 2013. Playing out of the ShoWare Center, the Mist was the only undefeated team during the regular season. Capturing their first-ever Pacific Division crown, Seattle scored a league-best 169 points.
Complemented by a Conference title, the Mist are hoping for a triple crown with their first-ever Legends Cup.
A significant aspect from their success starts at the quarterback position. Laurel Creel, who was named Most Valuable Player of the inaugural Pacific Cup, has shown remarkable grace and poise at the position. With the second-best total offense in the league (behind Anne Erler’s Green Bay Chill), Creel helped the Mist register a league-high 24 touchdowns.
Having thrown for 460 yards and 14 touchdowns (compared to only three interceptions), she has served as the catalyst of the Mist’s high-octane offense. With a proficient passer rating of 100.3, Creel ranks third in the league behind Chicago’s Heather Furr and Baltimore’s Morgan Spencer.
Other leaders on the offensive contingent include rookie running back Mele Rich and Shuree Hyatt. With 182 rushing yards and four touchdowns, Rich accounts for 57 percent of the rushing attack. Hyatt has accumulated 9 receptions for 123 yards as she is one of five Mist receivers to have at least 50 receiving yards.
Defensively, Lashaun Fowler is having a season to remember. Leading the Mist with 18 tackles, she was also the LFL regular season sack champion with 3.5.
Their road to glory began on April 6 versus the Green Bay Chill. Facing Anne “Showtime” Erler, the Mist were facing one of the most versatile and athletic quarterbacks in the LFL. Their showdown with Erler would signify a season marked by tests against elite members of the league.
While Rich would score the first touchdown of the season for the Mist, no lead is safe against Erler. Although Seattle jumped out to a convincing 20-6 lead, Erler was not intimidated by the boisterous crowd at ShoWare. With a little over two minutes in the first half, Erler helped lead the Chill to the end zone twice as the Mist only had a two-point lead at halftime.
Hyatt would emerge as the story of the game. With two touchdowns in the third quarter, her biggest contribution may have been an interception against Anne Erler. The pick helped to change the momentum as the Mist held off the potent Green Bay offense for a 55-36 final.
Facing the three-time defending LFL champion Los Angeles Temptation on May 4, the contest would truly make or break the Mist’s season. With Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California serving as the backdrop to this titanic struggle, it was the moment of truth for the Mist.
With the Temptation featuring the likes of Ashley Salerno and Liz Gorman, a road-win against them (something Seattle never did) would be hard earned.
Having emerged as the first dynasty in league history, the Mist was eager to overtake them and beat them on their own field. Nerves were evident as the Mist fumbled early in the game, leading to an Ashley Salerno touchdown pass to Melissa Margulies for an early lead.
An interception by Monique Gaxiola extended the Temptation’s lead with five minutes remaining in the quarter. Despite the strain of facing a high-powered on the road, Mele Rich help to set the tone for the Mist. Before the half expired, she scored a touchdown which helped give Seattle much-needed confidence.
A third-quarter interception of Salerno by Shuree Hyatt provided Seattle with their first lead of the game as the score was now 18-14. While Salerno would redeem herself by reclaiming the lead with a rushing touchdown, Creel would not be outdone. Despite being sacked by Chloe Butler, Creel kept her composure. A touchdown pass to Riki Creger-Zier would emerge as the winning touchdown, as Creel was recognized with Game MVP honors.
Winless Minnesota would serve as the next opponent for the Mist. The July 6 contest featured a pre-game Fourth of July ceremony as a victory would provide the franchise with its first division title. Minnesota rookie quarterback Kari Janes was intercepted twice in the first half as Seattle jumped out to a 22-0 lead.
Minnesota’s rookie quarterback continued to struggle in the second half as she was intercepted twice again. With only five completions, the 23 year-old was overwhelmed by a more experienced squad in a hostile arena. Seattle touchdowns by Shuree Hyatt and Riki Creger-Zier provided the squad with a convincing 38-0 win and a historic first; the Pacific Division crown.
Emotions ran high in the final game of the regular season versus the Las Vegas Sin. The July 20, 2013 contest at Orleans Arena featured former Seattle player Danika Brace competing against her former team.
With rookie runner Carmen Bourseau providing Las Vegas with a 7-0 lead, as the club was still looking for a postseason berth. As Jessica Hopkins sat out the contest with an injury, it would only have been natural to expect Sin quarterback Nikki Johnson, one of the greatest quarterbacks in LFL history, to pick apart the Mist defense.
Instead of a great quarterback match-up between Johnson and Creel, the outcome of the match was settled before halftime. On one of her first pass attempts, Johnson was picked off by Mele Rich who ran it back for a touchdown.
Although Johnson played valiantly and displayed tenacity, she could not help the Sin regain the lead. A touchdown pass to Kelley Schroeder pulled the Sin to within 8 points, with a 22-14 score. Before halftime, Megan Hanson and Mele Rich would score touchdowns for the 36-14 advantage.
Overwhelmed throughout the match by an aggressive Mist defense, Johnson was helpless as her team was simply not capable of matching up against Seattle. The game would signify the worst performance of her legendary career, as she went 9-for-21, while racking up three interceptions. The 52-14 final score represented several franchise milestones for the Mist; most points in one game and highest margin of victory in a game.
While the next stop in Seattle’s breakthrough season shall be the Conference Championship on August 24 in Los Angeles, confidence is high as the club brings an offensive attack that shall prove to be difficult for any offense to contain. Super rookies such as Mele Rich and Shuree Hyatt have added a new dimension to the offensive attack, while complementing Creel’s emergence as an elite quarterback.
The maturity of players such as Riki Creger-Zier and Christine Moore has also been a key aspect in the Mist’s unprecedented success. Along with veterans Jessica Hopkins, the three have provided absolute consistency, versatility and leadership for the Mist.
Defensively, the three have combined for 42 tackles and three sacks. Their presence on offense has also been of great boon for the Mist. Hopkins has a combined 140 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns, making her one of the most valuable members of the roster. Creger-Zier has 78 yards and two touchdowns, while Moore has 49 yards and two scores.
While no championship is guaranteed, the 2013 campaign emerged as a validation for the hard work that the Mist has put into the game and towards building strong bonds within their community. For their enthusiastic fans, their loyalty and devotion has reinforced their standing as the best fans in the league. Regardless of the outcome of the postseason, the Mist has emerged as a model franchise in the LFL, paving the way for the other expansion teams to follow.