By Larry Snyder
Pittsburgh Pa. – The hard work of overcoming the challenges of the regular season allowed the Pittsburgh Passion (6-2) to host a first round match of the Women’s Football Alliance playoffs Saturday, June 15, against the New York Wolves (5-3) at Joe P. DeMichela Stadium. This WFA D-2 contest is the inaugural meeting between these two squads and gets underway at 7:00 p.m. EDT.
Pittsburgh secured their ninth division title at the beginning of June. Since 2007, the Women of Steel continue to build a fantastic success story as they enter the playoffs 12 out of 13 seasons. It is the fourth time in team history to be the No. 1 seed in the playoffs (2007, 2014, 2015, and 2019).
This season the weekend of Friday, July 12th and Saturday, July 13th, is when everyone comes together for the WFA National Championships. The games are at Marv Kay Stadium at Campbell Field on the campus of the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.
PASSION OFFENSE STRIKES
Offensive Coordinator and former starting quarterback Lisa Horton found her signal caller as Angela Baker finished the regular season with 1,688 passing yards and 24 touchdowns. The Slippery Rock University alumnus added 381 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 60 carries.
The aerial attack is in the capable hands of Devon Conner, Ellie Mularski, and Krystal Cozzo. They combined for 80 catches and 22 touchdowns over eight contests. Cozzo became the seventh player in team annals to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in her career.
Helping the running game get traction is the offensive line of Samantha Simeone, Morgan Cross, Erica Shoecraft, Kimberly Zubovic, and Kaitlain Niedermeyer. Arielle Smith and Kia Foster together hit the end zone six times on the ground.
Followers of the Black and Gold witnessed the team accumulate 278 points and 2794 total yards of offense. Their lowest point contest was 21 against the DC Divas while the highest output was 53 against the Grand Rapids Tidal Waves.
DEFENSE RISING UP
Head Coach Teresa Conn’s unit claimed four shutouts in eight matchups. The Women of Steel owned 12 fumble recoveries and 12 interceptions for 24 turnovers. The opposing quarterbacks needed to react quickly as Pittsburgh recorded a total of 10 sacks.
Tenisha Spencer led the squad with seven interceptions. Hannah Daman, Rebecca Ehrgood, Diamond Rodriguez, Cozzo accounted for the remaining picks. Working together to end drives down the field, Ehrgood joined with Cozzo, Daman. Rodriguez, and Spencer for 11 pass deflections.
Amanda Coles, Chance Willis, Julie Ionta, Kaylee Bowden, Niedermeyer, Zubovic, and Rodriguez seized the moment to grab a dozen fumbles. A Kay Campbell along with Niedermeyer, Daman, and Zubovic each forced a fumble.
When it was time to meet at the quarterback, Lizz Costanzo and Randee Murray along with Niedermeyer, Ionta, Willis, and Coles kept the ball from being thrown downfield.
SPECIAL TEAMS SUCCESS
Jana C Meister, in addition to her three touchdowns receiving, averaged 30 yards on her nine punts. Franki Kilmer connected on 11 extra points. Rodriguez averaged 12.2 yards on her eight punt returns and 18 yards on her five kickoff returns.
REVIEWING THE WOLVES
New York in their premier season averaged 297.8 yards of offense and 19.4 points per contest under head coach and offensive coordinator Fabian Alesandro.
Danneille Ayala supplied 914 passing yards and five touchdowns at quarterback. Her favorite targets when she dropped back into the pocket is the trio of Dia Cascone, Gina Capardi, and Krystal Molina. Leading the ground attack is Natalie Davis who averages 7.4 yards per carry.
For defensive coordinator Kyle Copeland the quartet of Gabriella Farrell and Kim Rose at linebacker, defensive back Nhandi Brown, and lineman Hadisha Butts help to keep the opposition out of the end zone.
Alexis Parrotta handles both the kicking and punting duties for the Wolves. Per HostedSports.com she made eight of nine point-after attempts in 2019.
My Prediction: I like the Black and Gold firing on all cylinders at home and claim a 36-12 victory to move forward in the WFA playoffs. There is still time to get your seats online.
Other Voices: The occupied onlookers at Massey Ratings maintain the Passion at No. 5 this week and move the Wolves up one notch to No. 14 in their survey. The Massey crew thinks Pittsburgh collects their fifth shutout and defeats New York 27-0.
Ernst Zermelo has the Women of Steel at No. 3 in his WFA D-2 ratings and the Women of the Empire State at No. 10 to wrap up the regular season. He prefers the Black and Gold’s Strength of Schedule.
Weather: The isobar watchers at weather.com are calling for mostly cloudy skies for Saturday around the City of Bridges with a high of 76 degrees. The probability of rain is at 50 percent. Winds should be out of the southwest at 10 to 15 mph. Click on the link as we all get closer to game time.
Acknowledgment: My thanks to Matt Harkins and Nate Geisler for their help in providing the stats and information on Pittsburgh for this story.
Looking Back To Week Three On YouTube.com – John Brown Videography – 2019 Pittsburgh Passion Vs Grand Rapids Tidal Waves…
*Photo Credit – Top Of The Article – Picture Provided By The Pittsburgh Passion*