Canada opens 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds with shutout victory over Spain

In their opening game of the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds in Vantaa, Finland, the Canadian contingent was facing a team from Spain that already had one loss. With the Spaniards making their international debut, the squad had yet to score a point.

Canada jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter. The first touchdown came on Canada’s opening drive. With a drive that only needed four plays and 39 yards, Julie David capped it off with a nine-yard run for a touchdown. Lara Guscott, the only Canadian on the squad playing for a club team based in the United States (the Kansas City Blitz of the Independent Women’s Football League) got the conversion.

As Spain’s offense sputtered in the first quarter, Canada quickly regained control of the ball. David was the answer once again, as she had a five-yard run for the 13-0 advantage. Having helped the Saskatoon Valkyries claim the 2013 WWCFL championship, she is looking for another title with Canada at the IFAF Worlds.

With 1:30 left in the quarter, Canada got on the board with their first receiving touchdown. A pair of Montreal Blitz players, quarterback Saadia Ashraf and running back Sophie Roy connected for the touchdown.

Special teams contributed to the two Canadian touchdowns in the second quarter. David returned a kick 70 yards for the 28-0 advantage. Although Spain had two long drives in the quarter (including a surprising 50-yard drive that resulted in a goal line stand), difficulties converting on third down nullified their efforts. Near the end of the quarter, Spain punted and Julie Paetsch (also of the Valkyries) returned it 35 yards for the touchdown. Having suffered with a knee injury for most of the WWCFL season, Paetsch’s comeback with Canada is an admirable one.

With a 35-0 lead going into the third quarter, Canada enjoyed an insurmountable lead. Spain continued to rely on the running game as the passing game was not effective. Despite keeping Canada’s defense on the field for long periods of time, the lack of experience showed. Its inability to convert on third and fourth downs prevented them from scoring.

As there were only 42 seconds left, Mallory Starkey of the Regina Riot punched through the Spanish defense for a one-yard score. Guscott would run in the ball for the two-point conversion. With Spain facing a 43-point deficit, they would play the fourth quarter for pride.

Although Spain relied on the running game again, their offense was showing signs of life against a Canadian defense that was facing fatigue. A 37-yard drive consumed more than half of the quarter. Once again, Starkey would emerge as the story of the second half for Canada. A 47-yard run by Starkey resulted in a touchdown, providing Canada with the 50-0 lead. Of note, Canada’s drive only used up 51 seconds.

While Spain was unable to score their first touchdown of the tournament against Canada, players such as Del Carmen Arroyo Moreno and Azucena Munoz Martos played valiantly on offense for Spain. As the Spaniards managed to win the battle in time of possession, It may help provide Spain with confidence as their next match is in the fifth place game. Julie David was recognized as the Most Valuable Player of the Game for Canada, while Spanish defensive back Veraya Romero Coronas earned the nod for Spain.

Canada’s next opponent is the host country Finland. The winner of the match will proceed to the gold medla game where they will likely meet the United States for the right to be called world champions.