Date with destiny at 2013 WFA National Title Game for Chicago Force

While the Chicago Force prepare for their third attempt at capturing the elusive Women’s Football Association National Championship, there is no question that the stakes are higher than ever. With Sami Grisafe retiring after the title game (to be contested on August 3 in San Diego) to focus on her promising musical career, it shall mark the end of an era in women’s football.

Sami Grisafe sings the national anthem prior to the final match USA vs Canada at the 2013 IFAF Women's Worlds (Photo credit Aliisa Piirla/AFP/Getty Images)

Sami Grisafe sings the national anthem prior to the final match USA vs Canada at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds (Photo credit Aliisa Piirla/AFP/Getty Images)

Statistically, Grisafe is the most dominant quarterback of her era. Having helped the United States to consecutive gold medals at the IFAF Womens’ World Championships (in 2010 and 2013), her contribution to the women’s game establishes her as one of the true pioneers of the sport.
Similar to Red Grange or Slinging Sammy Baugh in the early days of the NFL, Grisafe is the marquee player of the nascent WFA. A multiple All-America selection, her contributions at quarterback has represented the heartbeat of the Force offense while providing much-needed exposure for the league.

Competing against the Dallas Diamonds, it will mark a historic championship game as neither club has ever won a title in their franchise histories with the WFA. Despite the outcome, there will be a lot of American pride at the event. A total of 15 members of the US National Team that captured gold at the 2013 IFAF Womens’ World Championships shall be on the field in San Diego on August 3.

Grisafe with the Chicago Force, Image by Ross Forman

Grisafe with the Chicago Force, Image by Ross Forman

Among the Dallas Diamonds competitors who donned the US jersey, the six members include: Brittany Bushman, Odessa Jenkins, Jen Welter, Alberta Fitcheard-Brydson, Kenoris Blackmon and Rachel May. Chicago’s nine fearless females that helped the US capture its second straight gold included Sami Grisafe (who sang the Star Spangled Banner before the Gold Medal Game), Jeanette Gray, Brandy Hatcher, Jamie Menzyk, Elizabeth Okey, Tami Engelman, Dawn Pederson and Ashely Berggren.

The road to the title game consisted of three playoff games where the Force outscored their oppionents by a combined 195-34. Chicago crushed the Cleveland Fusion by a 65-7 score, which was followed by an overwhelming 84-0 decision at the hands of the Atlanta Phoenix. Facing the Boston Militia for the third consecutive season in the playoffs, Chicago emerged with a 46-27 victory.

Having competed in the 2012 WFA National Championship (the first title match held at an NFL stadium), the Force are now accustomed to the pressures of competing on the league’s biggest stage. Having suffered defeat at the hands of San Diego Surge in 2012, the Force came away with a learning experience.

In addition, the Force would land a member of the Surge as a free acquisition in 2013. Jessica Javelet, a key member of the 2012 championship roster made her presence felt in the conference title game versus Boston. Her 183 yard performance, complemented by three touchdowns made the difference as the running game was employed by Chicago in a rain-soaked contest.

Javelet may end up being the free agent acquisition that makes Sami Grisafe’s championship dreams come true. The one component missing from her storied career is a national championship.

After helping the United States claim two gold medals at the IFAF Women’s Worlds, the WFA title would solidify her standing as the greatest women’s quarterback of the last ten years. With quality weapons on offense including Jeanette Gray and Ashley Berggren, the Force’s date with destiny is one that may be a landmark moment in franchise history.

Berggren is one of the most accomplished two-sport stars on her squad. Having set several records as a basketball player at Barrington High School, she would have a legendary career for the University of Illinois.

Not only did she help the squad to a Big Ten title, she was Big Ten Player of the Year in 1997. For her efforts, her jersey was raised to the rafters in 2009. Having coached the Schaumburg girls basketball team to consecutive winning seasons, she is a member of the Illinois Coaches Basketball Hall of Fame. Her coaching wisdom makes her a natural leader on the Force, while helping to ease the burden of pressure off Grisafe.

Having thrown for over 1,000 yards in the postseason, Grisafe has been nothing short of dazzling. Having grown up in California (where Grisafe made history by becoming the first girl to play Division I High School Boys Football in the state), the last game of her career brings her full circle. Her flawless passing game is the key to a highly potent offense that may provide her with the elusive title on which she can end her prized career in story book fashion.

Returning to her home state, the stars are perfectly aligned for a fantastic finish. There is no question that if the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio ever inducts women, Grisafe deserves to be at the top of that list.

2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds provide convincing victories in opening days

With the 2013 IFAF Women’s World Football Championships kicking off on July 1, the United States are looking to repeat as world champions. Fans in Vantaa, Finland witnessed several games on the first day, including the beginning of the United States quest towards a golden finish.

Host country Finland had the honor of playing the opening game of the event. They would win by convincing fashion in a 47-0 whitewash of Spain. With the 2013 edition of the Women’s Worlds marking Spain’s debut, the squad endured growing pains.

Contested at ISS Stadium in Spain, Finland jumped to a 16-0 lead after one quarter of play. Finnish quarterback Tiina Salo logged the first touchdown of the game with Janina Virtanen converting the extra point. She would contribute to the second touchdown with a pass to Sari Kuosmanen. Before the first half would expire, Elina Seppala added a score for the 22-0 advantage. Kuosmanen would extend the lead over Spain with her second touchdown of the game.

Facing a 28-0 halftime deficit, Spain was not able to comeback. Jenni Linden scored the initial touchdown of the second half for Finland. In the second half, Jutta Luhtala was handling the extra point conversions for the host Finns.

Linden’s score was followed by Janna-Jemina Seiels who provided Finland with a convincing 41-0 lead. Before the second half would expire, Linden logged her second touchdown of the day as Finland prevailed. Salo was named Player of the Game for Finland, while Raquel Diaz Garcia earned the nod for Spain. Finland’s next opponent is Canada, the defending silver medalist.

In a convincing 84-0 defeat of Sweden (the country which hosted the inaugural Women’s Worlds in 2010), the US set the tone for the remainder of the event. Having never lost a game at the IFAF level, the US has extended their undefeated streak behind three touchdowns by Cassey Brick.

Competing with the San Diego Surge of the Women’s Football Alliance, Brick would log the first touchdown of the game. Adrienne Smith, Odessa Jenkins and Jeanette Gray would follow suit with their own scores to provide the US with a convincing 32-0 lead.

Brick would follow with another touchdown as Sweden was unable to mount an offensive attack. Jenkins would log her second touchdown of the game for the 46-0 advantage as the game was now clearly out of reach.

Quarterback Samantha Grisafe, who competes with the Chicago Force in the WFA, (and is also a recording artist) would run in for a touchdown as the US boasted a 54-0 score. Brick, who played against Grisafe in the 2012 WFA National Championship game, added to the lead for her third and final score of the game.

Remaining touchdowns were scored by Brandy Hatcher, Ashley Berggren and Kathrine Sowers for the 84-0 final. Grisafe was named as Player of the Game for the US while Emma Bendorf was Sweden’s selection as Player of the Game. The US will attempt to extend their undefeated streak with a Fourth of July clash against Team Germany.

On July 2, the German contingent was successful in their contest against Sweden.  Prevailing by a 25-14 score, Susanne Erdman made the difference. She had a career day with 20 carries for a remarkable 217 rushing yards and three touchdowns. While Sweden provided a valiant effort, their offense sputtered throughout the day.

Erdman was recognized as Player of the Game for Germany, while linebacker Frida Er-Terlecki earned the nod for Sweden. With the 0-2 start, Sweden will compete in the contest to determine fifth and sixth place.