Seattle slides by LA in opening game of LFL 10th Anniversary Season

Comprising the signature rivalry in the Legends Football League, it was only fitting that opening kickoff for their 10th anniversary season involved the gridiron goddesses of the Los Angeles Temptation and the Seattle Mist. Contested at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, known affectionately as “The Pirate Ship”, these two legacy franchises set an exciting tone for the season to come, with a tightly contested game that saw rivalries renewed.

When both rosters took to the field, fans could have been forgiven at the astonishing number of new faces. Among the defining themes of said season, the movement of star players throughout the league has altered the competitive structure, introducing an unprecedented opportunity for parity. As was quickly evidenced, the rosters of the Temptation and Mist were not immune to such compelling change.

From the outset, the host Temptation featured the legendary Anne “Showtime” Erler, a former franchise player for the Green Bay Chill and Saskatoon Sirens. Competing at the Defensive Back position, the statuesque Erler is reputed among the league’s greatest quarterbacks ever. Making her comeback after more than five seasons, she will certainly provide stability at the quarterback position should an injury befall starter Ashley Salerno.

Battling a smash mouth Mist defense that features Amber Camp and Shea Norton among others, Salerno refused to be intimidated. With the Mist entering the game as 9.5-point favorites, she employed a combination of toughness and scrambling ability, displaying a poise that was crucial in keeping the Temptation competitive against such odds.

Along with former Atlanta Steam competitor Nas Johnson, who inherited running back duties from Carmen Bourseau, the offense also featured the debut of Fuyuki Hamaguchi, the first Japanese player in league history. Just as prominent is the player that will certainly be the heartbeat of moving the offense. A former championship player with the Chicago Bliss, Hallie Jiskra, the new center for the Temptation, quickly displayed a rapport with Salerno.

Anchoring the Temptation defense was the determined Danielle Harvey, fearlessly challenging the Mist’s high octane offense, which featured a series of free agent acquisitions that were beginning their second stints with Seattle. KK Matheny, who led the Mist to a pair of Legends Cup titles replaced Michelle Angel, a Temptation alum who spent last season as Seattle’s starting quarterback, is orchestrating the offense. With Katie Whelan, newly inserted at the center position, experiencing an adjustment, it may need to be the biggest priority in keeping the offense efficient.

Of note, Matheny was among four free agent signings that departed the expansion Nashville Knights, who were led by Danika Brace, the first female head coach in LFL history. Joining Matheny are former LFL Most Valuable Player Randle, plus elite running backs Stevi “The Bull” Schnoor and Dominique Maloy, all back in Mist green after playing alongside Matheny with the Knights.

As the Mist employed their running game to full effect, fans and players at “The Pirate Ship” noticed another aspect in the franchise’s theme of reunion. Perhaps the most significant change was Chris Michaelson, a member of the LFL Hall of Fame, returning to the helm as Mist head coach. Replacing Eric Bellamy, who spent just one season in that capacity, he was visible on the sidelines, trying to keep his players motivated. Worth noting, former Mist legend Jessica Hopkins is also on Michaelson’s coaching staff, her acumen proving to be integral in a game that was a see-saw battle.

The final outcome would depend on which team made the fewest errors. Despite a valiant effort by the Temptation, they were not able to gain a win on home turf. Managing to emerge victorious by capitalizing on penalties, the Mist are likely to collide with the Temptation once again in the Western Conference Final.

Although some fans went on social media to voice their displeasure over some officiating calls, the season opener has proven to be a learning experience for the Temptation. Having held their own over a Mist offense that is considered the greatest in LFL history, mistake-free football shall be crucial in satisfying their ambitions of capturing their first title since 2011.

Undoubtedly, Harvey shall be one of the Temptation’s key players on defense as the season unfolds. Considering that Ogom Chijindu was released in the off-season, while the highly popular Megan Hanson departed for the Austin Acoustic, who qualified for the 2018 Legends Cup Finals, chemistry is destined to be critical for success on defense. The progress of rookie sensation TJ Anderson will also determine whether the defense shall be among the league’s finest.

Certainly, the Mist will be prepared to frustrate opposing teams throughout this season. While the club cannot succumb to the lofty expectations, any success may be pointed to another members in their distinguished class of free agent acquisitions. Landing the most prized player in the offseason, a legendary player with the Chicago Bliss that propelled the club into both popular culture and championship lore, Alli Alberts is now garbed in the Mist paraphernalia.

Having opposed the Mist in numerous Legends Cup Finals, she has also engaged in numerous on-turf wars against the Temptation. As a side note, her collision with Salerno during her rookie campaign remains the stuff of league legend. A consistent league leader in both receiving and defensive (interceptions, tackles) categories, Alberts’ familiarity in big game situations, bringing a highly effective versatility (a quality that Michaelson likes in his players), may prove to be the final piece of the Mist’s championship puzzle for 2019.

Austin Acoustic provide valiant effort in debut game

For any expansion team, the combined feeling of eagerness and nervous energy culminates with its first-ever game. Said game proves to be the litmus test, the opportunity to truly evaluate talent and determine the success of a team. While the Austin Acoustic, one of two new Texas-based expansion teams in the Legends Football League, gained the privilege of participating in the first game of the 2016 season, one could state that it was a baptism of fire.

Kicking off against the defending Legends Cup champion Seattle Mist, it was definitely a “Welcome to the LFL” moment for many of the Acoustic’s first-year players. Taking into account that the match also took place on the road, where the Mist’s fans who regularly pack ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington are the loudest in the league, the Acoustic quickly learned how home field advantage can be crucial towards a team’s success.

Despite the final score displaying a 44-8 victory in favor of the defending champions, there were still many positives for the Acoustic to build on. Statistically, the Acoustic showed strong proficiency on the gridiron. Of note, the Acoustic gained more first downs on offense (7-4), while their passing game was much stronger than the Mist.

Signal caller Teshay Winfrey passed for 78 yards, completing 35% of her passes, while logging a touchdown pass. In addition, she would gain three first downs on passing, compared to just 1 by KK Matheny, a 2015 LFL All-Fantasy selection. Matheny, who donated 100% of proceeds from fan jersey sales to Sienna Strong Against Cancer, only completed 25% of her passes but managed a pair of touchdown passes to Jessica Hopkins, as the strong team chemistry showed.

While Hopkins led all Mist receivers with 39 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns, the Acoustic’s Brenda Lynn proved to be the game’s leading receiver. Averaging 14.3 yards per reception, she managed a solid game-high 43 receiving yards. Stephanie Wickett would make her mark, scoring the first touchdown in franchise history with an 18-yard pass from Winfrey. As a side note, Wickett would also contribute 2.5 total tackles.

The key factor that contributed to the Mist victory came down to the rushing game. While the Acoustic’s Jess Powers had a game-high nine rushes, she was continuously pounded by a Mist defense that featured Lashaunda Fowler and 2015 league MVP Danika Brace. Meanwhile, Stevi Schnoor continued to prove why she is the best running back in the LFL. With a superlative 6.1 yards per carry, she anchored the Mist’s running game, shredding through the Acoustic defense for three touchdowns. She would also add to her growing legend by completing a pass for a touchdown.

Although the loss could be classified as a blowout, there was a great personal victory for the Acoustic. On social media, many of the Mist players and coaches showed a touch of class, recognizing the effort exerted by the club in a difficult debut. While the Acoustic may be in the same conference as the Mist, one element that shall never be in dispute is the level of sportsmanship. Mist head coach Chris Michaelson was gracious, showing his recognition of the Acoustic’s effort as part of a social media message recognizing the players and fans,

“I want to give a shout out to Austin Acoustic Head Coach Jericho Harris and his Players for their tenacity and Effort in their first game ever in the LFL — they never quit and continued to compete throughout the game and that will carry this team a long ways … I am confident that he will continue to grow this team and they will be a force to be reckoned with in this league … for all his players I encourage you to see it thru and maintain that desire you had in that game to continue to grow as a team and become better individually as you watch yourselves in film — very proud to see new teams show the heart and determination to compete thru it all … “

Despite such an austere start, there is optimism for the Acoustic and their fans. In the Legends Football League, some expansion teams have managed success early on, such as the Atlanta Steam. Considering that the Steam started out against powerhouses such as the Chicago Bliss and Jacksonville Breeze, it was a climb to contention that consisted of hard work and determination. With such a strong effort on offense, pieces are in place for an ambitious Acoustic team keen to emulate the Steam’s success and establish themselves as a contending club.

Forgiveness needed for footballer turned beauty queen

As jubilation has turned to desolation for Stormy Keffeler, the saddest element may be that she has become tabloid fodder. In having to make the visceral decision to relinquish her crown as Miss Washington USA, showed great courage and integrity, the result has been an onslaught of criticism and objectification, unfairly transforming her into a pop culture target.

While beauty pageants have been a lifelong passion for Keffeler, another source of enjoyment involved athletics. Among her sporting achievements, she was most famous for being part of the Seattle Mist’s roster in Legends Football League play. Participating with the club in the 2014 regular season, she contributed towards a return to the postseason, while fans quickly admired her for the ability to balance beauty pageantry and athleticism in an empowering and confident package.

StormyMist

Having experienced unprecedented heights as Miss Washington USA, the chance to be a role model and an exemplary citizen came with the expectation of being held to a higher standard. Sadly, this shattered expectation by some was attributed to the fact that Keffeler had been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) last April.

Considering that this occurred months before her crowning as Miss Washington USA, a public apology and a commitment to undertake community service should have been satisfactory compromises, allowing her to keep her crown. In a field where beauty pageant competitors are accustomed to being judged in a rather merciless and sometimes ruthless field of play, it is hard to say if judges at future pageants would have been forgiving.

Stormy

The reality is that many beauty pageant winners are thrust into the same role as actors, musicians and other celebrities, becoming the subject of scorn and ridicule should some former skeletons in the closet be removed and revealed for all. Sadly, those pointing the finger of ridicule have forgotten what it is to be human.

Through it all, the most redeeming aspect may be the outpouring of love and support from friends, family and teammates. Many current and former Mist players, having enjoyed the chance to call Keffler a teammate have heartwarmingly stood by her, truly embodying the spirit of teamwork, proving that such bonds do not dissolve once a player hangs up her helmet.

Considering that the emotional suffering endured from just relinquishing the crown is more than anyone should have to endure, the focus must now be about healing. Keffeler is facing a fourth down situation, one that can only be her finest hour with the roar of the crowd behind her.

KK Matheny’s competitive edge a key factor in Seattle Mist’s championship success

While the contraction of the Jacksonville Breeze truly marked the end of an era for indoor women’s football in America, several players found new homes, bringing their work ethic and love of the game. Among the former Breeze members that joined the Mist, KK Matheny and Bryn Renda comprised a superlative free agent class that also included Danica Brace, formerly of the Las Vegas Sin.

The result was an amazing gridiron trinity that brought the Mist and its proud fan base an elusive Legends Cup championship. Such chemistry blended with the likes of leaders such as Jessica Hopkins and Stevi Schnoor to help cultivate a championship instinct that transformed the Mist into the champions that they wanted to become.

From the very beginning, Matheny established herself as the field general of the Mist, bringing a newfound confidence for a highly talented team looking to reach the next level. A star basketball player at Chiefland High School, Matheny has never lost her competitive edge, and that was highly evident during the Mist season.

Image obtained from Facebook

Image obtained from Facebook

Joined on the Mist by former Breeze teammate Bryn Renda, the result was a remarkable offensive synergy. Several times throughout this season, Matheny relied on Renda for key plays, usually resulting in first downs or touchdown scores, and their familiarity shone through. Both members of the American Collegiate Intramural Sports and Fitness Hall of Fame, the two were also teammates at the University of West Florida (based in Pensacola, FL). In addition, the two appeared in the national finals three years in a row, having won championships in 2006 and 2008.

Despite losing their first game of the season, the Mist never looked back with Matheny showing the way. She proudly followed in the footsteps of former Mist quarterbacks such as Laurel Creel, second-generation player Angela Rypien and LFL Canada champion Mary-Anne Hansen, jubilantly displaying the Mist colors, while establishing her own superlative legacy.

Winning on the road against the Los Angeles Temptation, at the world-renowned Memorial Coliseum, truly signified the turning point for the Mist. After suffering a disappointing playoff loss to the Temptation in 2014, along with a visceral loss to open the season, the Mist needed to beat them in order to establish its championship confidence.

Although the Legends Cup championship would represent the pinnacle of Matheny’s career, her finest moment may have come in the Western Conference championship game. Facing the Temptation once again, Matheny displayed the poise that would set a positive tone for the team throughout the tumultuous contest. The chance to win a conference crown in 2015 represented a liberating importance to Matheny.

Unforeseen at the time, Matheny’s final game with the Breeze took place in a hotly contested 2014 Eastern Conference championship game against the Atlanta Steam. Resulting in a hard-fought loss, it was compounded by pushing and shoving in its emotional aftermath. The one parallel between the Breeze and the Mist throughout the season was that they were both highly competitive but had never reached the opportunity to compete in the Legends Cup title game.

To beat the Temptation made a very powerful statement. Considering that the archrival Temptation were hungry for a fourth league title, it represented redemption for Matheny, proving that she deserved to be looked upon as an elite quarterback able to take her team to the next level, while providing a feeling of redemption for the entire Mist organization.

No longer were such talented competitors looked upon as merely contenders. Earning the opportunity for the biggest prize in their sport, Matheny and the Mist did not disappoint. With the Legends Cup championship game taking place on home soil in Kent, Washington, the Mist jumped out to a quick 20-0 lead against the two-time defending champion Chicago Bliss.

Just like the playoff victory against the Temptation, the chance to beat the Bliss only validated the Mist’s championship effort, proving that they were truly worth of being looked upon as the very best.

As the honor of champion has been bestowed upon Matheny, she becomes Seattle’s sweetheart, emulating Russell Wilson’s great success in bringing a football championship to a highly loyal fan base. Although her passing numbers may not have been among the league’s highest, her heart, determination and team-first approach were metrics that could simply not be measured. Continuously displaying remarkable composure in high pressure situations, complemented by self-confidence, they were exceptional factors that defined Matheny’s unforgettable season.

Return to Seattle Mist brings career of Danika Brace full circle

In the aftermath of the 2014 season, Danika Brace provided an emotional and powerful farewell speech in the Las Vegas Sin locker room. Valiantly holding back tears, Brace, whose competitive spirit represented a sincere love of the game, always provided leadership by example. Of note, her farewell address was actually introduced by the commissioner of the football league.

Praising her skills on and off the field, the commissioner continued by stating that football comes and goes, but the people are what matter. With that in mind, Brace’s impact on the gridiron certainly mattered. While she was infamous among rival players for her trash talking, it sent a message to opposing teams that Brace was not to be taken lightly.

Known as the league’s premier trash talker, the only kind of talk she addressed to the Sin locker room with was one of encouragement. Her endorsement of Sindy Cummings and Markie Henderson as future superstars was definitely credible, as their first season with the Sin represented Brace’s last.

Her strong leadership with many of the Sin’s younger players included the ability to call out a player on an error. Like a playing coach, she brought acumen to the gridiron, helping nascent players grow into veteran roles. Her presence provided the Sin with that competitive edge, proving that any win against them would be hard-earned.

One remark from the commissioner did provide fans with a glimmer of hope, as he believed that she might come back one day. Such words were coincidental foreshadowing, as indoor football fans got their wish. After a stint playing football in Melbourne, Australia as one of several US import players, her competitive fire has been rekindled.

Suiting up for the Seattle Mist in 2015, it brings her career full circle. Having started her football journey with the club (winning the inaugural Pacific Cup), the experience acquired since then may yield positive dividends. Despite some difficult seasons for the Sin, Brace’s strong knowledge of Western Conference opponents makes her an invaluable resource for a determined Mist franchise looking to capture its elusive championship.

It is only fitting that a return to the franchise represents the potential for such glorious ambitions. Should Brace end the season with the championship held proudly in her hands, there is no question it shall be dedicated to her sister, Amanda.

Of note, she was introduced to the game by her sister, setting the foundation for her accomplished career. Under her sister’s mentorship, she understood the need to be competitive yet available to younger players.

Although the early aspects of her career were frustrated by the all-too encompassing realities of career and financial obligations (a common predicament among so many women in modern sport), her love of the game could not be extinguished. While her return to football in 2015 may not be classified as a comeback, a welcoming group of loyal and proud fans in Seattle are ready for another chance to appreciate one of the game’s gladiators.

Jessica Hopkins ranks among the greats in Seattle women’s sports

For a generation of sports fans in Seattle, names such as Rachel Gore, Doris Brown, Hope Solo and Lauren Jackson evoke emotions of excellence and elite competition among female athletes. One individual that has helped raise the profile of female football in the Pacific Northwest, along with the notion that women deserve to compete on the gridiron is Jessica Hopkins. In doing so, she has crafted a strong sporting legacy worthy among Seattle sports heroes.

Having also participated in competitions as a fitness model, Hopkins is a highly talented athlete whose greatest gifts go beyond her desire to win. Reputed as friendly with fans, down-to-earth and well-spoken, her personality complements the on-field performances that have captivated Mist fans. A great example of her popularity in Seattle sports is the fact that she was invited to participate in Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith’s Celebrity Softball game for charity.

Appearing at charity softball game of Super Bowl XLVIII Most Valuable Player Malcolm Smith with Seahawks player Roy Lewis (right). Photo credit: Gino Martino

Appearing at charity softball game of Super Bowl XLVIII Most Valuable Player Malcolm Smith with Seahawks player Roy Lewis (right). Photo credit: Gino Martino

Having earned a handful of awards in her Mist career, she is the glue that holds the Mist together. As the franchise has evolved from expansion status to title contender, Hopkins has been essential to such growth. If one element truly endears her to Mist fans, it is the fact that she is a homegrown talent.

While the league has gained detractors due to its controversies over sex appeal, individuals like Hopkins proceed with a quiet dignity. Her ability to maintain a tone of professionalism speaks volumes about her ability to evoke all the qualities of leadership while providing a presence makes her a remarkable mentor for many newer players.

Among the rare group of women that can be classified as a female football hero on both sides of the border, the chance to compete in Abbottsford, British Columbia extended her standing as a living legend in LFL football. Having participated with the BC Angels during the expansion season of indoor women’s football in 2012, it came as no surprise that the season ended with Hopkins earning a championship title and fans on both sides of the border.

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that she is also a mother. Being able to juggle the commitment of family and football is a quality that is not only an empowering one but an inspiration to women. Complemented by her commitment to charitable contributions, Hopkins and her Mist teammates work hard to make an impact in the community as athletic humanitarians.

While the current state of indoor women’s football appears to be at a crossroads, the popularity of the Mist is testament to the efforts of athletes such as Hopkins. Should the league fold after its fifth season of play in the United States, it does not have to mean the end for female football in Seattle. There is enough of a strong fan base through the West Coast that a new player-run league could be formed with Hopkins as one of its foundations. In addition, Hopkins would be more than capable of competing with the Seattle Majestics of the Women’s Football Alliance.

Her enthusiasm and love of the game is not only contagious, but is surely noticed by the fans. In a world where many sports are tainted by greed and ego, the humble Hopkins represents the true nature of sportsmanship and what athletes should aspire to.

Kasey Carter emerges as an inspiring rookie footballer for the Seattle Mist

Heading into the Seattle Mist’s 2014 campaign, the proud indoor football franchise welcomed several new faces. In addition to five members from the British Columbia Angels getting onboard, featuring the sensational Smash Sisters of Stevi Schnoor and Deanna Schaper-Kotter, another new face breathed new life into the exciting franchise.

At 35 years young, Kasey Carter brought more than just a love of football to the gridiron. Her enthusiasm and determination set a positive example, proving to be one of the most inspiring rookies in league play this season. Showing that age is nothing more than a state of mind, Carter contributed to a Mist franchise that boasts one of the best team cultures in women’s football.

KCMist

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Carter, who is employed as a nurse in ED, is also a mother. Joining the likes of fellow teammates (and mothers), Jessica Hopkins, second-generation football player Angela Rypien and quarterback Mary-Anne Hanson, who led the BC Angels to a championship in 2012, juggling family and football is a remarkable example of the empowerment that helps define all women’s sports.

Employing social media as a way of connecting with fans, it has added a special dimension to Carter’s rookie campaign. One of the most heartwarming aspects of her social media journey was a video she uploaded, where she is playing with her daughter. For many generations, a backyard scrimmage was traditionally reserved for father and son. Introducing her daughter to the game, it is part of a bold era in the game’s growth, proving that the future of football equally belongs to women.

Although Carter was relegated to the bench during the regular season, it did not diminish her role with the team. Of note, she was one of many proud Mist players that took part in the charity softball tournament of Super Bowl XLVIII Most Valuable Player (and Seattle Seahawks member) Malcolm Smith. While backup duties can be a difficult aspect for rookies and veterans alike, Carter showed great maturity and patience, the hallmark of a true team player. With the Mist having qualified for a postseason berth, hope was not yet lost for Carter to grace the gridiron. Making a tackle in a visceral postseason loss to the rival Los Angeles Temptation, it was a time of great elation and validation for the inspiring rookie. Should she decide to continue and pursue her football dream, her perseverance stands as a shining beacon to never stop believing.

Angela Rypien returns to her roots with second stint as Seattle Mist quarterback

As the Seattle Mist look to build on the momentum of their undefeated regular season in 2013, fans can expect a familiar face lining up behind center. After a one-year stint with the Baltimore Charm, Angela Rypien has returned to her roots in the Pacific Northwest.

The daughter of former Washington Redskins quarterback (and Super Bowl XXVI Most Valuable Player) Mark Rypien, Angela was not able to duplicate her father’s championship efforts in the Capital Beltway. Despite a postseason appearance in 2013 for the Baltimore Charm, the latter half of the season saw Rypien share quarterback duties and eventually lose her starting job.

Although she remains one of the Legends Football League’s most popular draws, she has a lot to prove in the 2014 campaign. While the 2013 season would appear as a step back in the development of Rypien as an elite signal caller, it is possible that playing in the region where her father established his football legacy may have been too much pressure for her. Ironically, her head coach in Baltimore was Gary Clark, one of Rypien’s teammates (and wide receivers) on the Super Bowl XXVI championship team.

Of note, she had committed to competing for the Calgary expansion franchise before the 2013 LFL Canada season folded. While Calgary was the birthplace of her father, Rypien certainly showed she was prepared to keep working on improving her game and sharpening her skills.

Returning to her home state of Washington for the 2014 campaign may be the fresh start she needs to prove the doubters wrong. Despite having to replace the departed Laurel Creel, who had a breakthrough season in 2013 as the Mist quarterback, Rypien has had experience playing for the Mist and their head coach, Chris Michaelson, one of the league’s finest.

Seattle definitely has a strong team dynamic and superlative chemistry, easing a lot of pressure that may have accompanied Rypien had she played for another franchise in the league. Despite the pressure for the proud Mist franchise to win its first-ever championship, Rypien is in a position where she does not have to shoulder the burden by herself.

Complemented by the presence of Jessica Hopkins, a surefire future LFL Hall of Famer, as one of the Mist’s leaders, it is that type of strong leadership that may help contribute to building Rypien’s confidence. Lining up behind center for the Mist’s home opener on May 3, Rypien definitely appeared more comfortable than she ever did in Baltimore.

With a convincing 38-24 victory against the Green Bay Chill, returning home is certainly a step in the right direction towards resurrecting Rypien’s promising career. Considering that her father only won a pro football championship in his fourth season as a starting quarterback, sometimes the expectations have been too high in her career. Should she help the Mist franchise realize its dream of capturing that elusive championship, her comeback would certainly stand as one of the great feel-good stories in league history.

Gridiron hero Stevi Schnoor a star on the rise

With her star on the rise, Stevi Schnoor is quickly emerging as one of Canada’s female sporting sensations. Currently competing with the BC Angels in Legends Football League Canada, her coming out party was the 2013 Pacific Cup.

As the LFL’s annual holiday showcase, the event was meant to feature the Seattle Mist and the Angels. With the 2013 LFL Canada season having been cancelled, the Los Angeles Temptation were last minute replacements for the contest.

Schnoor

Undeterred, Schnoor and two of her Angels teammates, Mary-Anne Hanson and Deanna Schaper-Kotter, suited up for the Mist. Having made many sacrifices to prepare for the game, this remarkable trio of Angels not only bonded during the experience, but contributed to a 27-25 Mist victory. Of note, Hanson and Schnoor also became the first players to compete in consecutive Pacific Cups with two different franchises.

Scoring three touchdowns in the contest, Schnoor was recognized as the Most Valuable Player of the Pacific Cup. Dubbed Stevi Wonder by the fans, her performance provided her with a treasured place in Seattle Mist lore.

Of note, this follows up on another sparkling MVP performance the year prior. During the inaugural LFL Canada season in 2012, Schnoor nabbed postseason MVP honors as the Angels claimed the league championship. That year, she would also compete with BC’s provincial team in the 2012 Canadian National Women’s League Finals.

To those who know her on the field of rugby, her success comes as no surprise. Known affectionately as Breezy, she competes at the Inside Centre position while competing for Canada at the 2009 Nations Cup. Having won five BC provincial high school rugby championships at Gleneagle, there is no question that Schnoor is a proven winner.

Recognized as one of the MVP’s from BC Rugby News in 2011, she is also a former Canadian women’s national rugby team member. Also a founding member of the United RFC, she has over 15 years experience in the sport.

Although the game of football is a series of executed plays which only last for several seconds, Schnoor adjusted very quickly. Her endurance as a rugby player enabled her to contribute to the Angels on offense, defense and special teams. With the support of rugby teammates at Angels contests in 2012, it is testament to the high regard she is placed in.

Truly a team player and a friend to so many teammates, Schnoor is also an athletic humanitarian. Having also played for the Dog River Howlers, a 2013 sojourn to Kenya included Howler rugby balls and t-shirts. Having travelled with her father to the African nation with the charitable cause A Better World, whose focus is on community development, Schnoor is also a champion off the field.

Seattle Mist capturing the imaginations of fans in 2013 LFL season

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.

From LFL Images

From LFL Images

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.

Kerry Warren applying pressure on Green Bay quarterback Anne Erler (Image obainted from: http://www.lflus.com/schedule?game=546)

Kerry Warren applying pressure on Green Bay quarterback Anne Erler (Image obainted from: http://www.lflus.com/schedule?game=546)

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.

Jessica Hopkins breaks a tackle from Los Angeles Temptation defender Jasmine Byndloss (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/schedule?game=580)

Jessica Hopkins breaks a tackle from Los Angeles Temptation defender Jasmine Byndloss (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/schedule?game=580)

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.

Donning number 12, Christine Moore lines up against the Minnesota Valkyries (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/070613_MINvsSEA_EP_1394-XL.jpg)

Donning number 12, Christine Moore lines up against the Minnesota Valkyries (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/070613_MINvsSEA_EP_1394-XL.jpg)

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.

Trying to contain legendary Las Vegas quarterback Nikki Johnson (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/i-SP747dD-XL.jpg)

Trying to contain legendary Las Vegas quarterback Nikki Johnson (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/i-SP747dD-XL.jpg)

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.

Left to right: Riki Greger-Zier, Jessica Hopkins. Christine Moore and Shea Norton (Imgae obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/seattlemist)

Left to right: Riki Greger-Zier, Jessica Hopkins. Christine Moore and Shea Norton (Imgae obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/seattlemist)

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.