By Larry Snyder
Alexandria, VA – The Pittsburgh Passion of the Women’s Football Alliance returns to the gridiron to open their season Saturday, April 22, 2023, on the road against the D.C. Divas. The two longtime WFA Pro National Division rivals meet at 6:00 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson High School.
Followers of the Women of Steel saw the squad build a 4-2-0 regular season record during 2022, their first season back from COVID. They concluded that campaign at home on May 28 with a 36-12 victory over the Women of the Beltway. Pittsburgh defeated the Tampa Bay Inferno 27-21 on June 11, 2022, in the first round of the playoffs before bowing out June 25, 2022, to the Boston Renegades 42-24 at Harry Della Russo Stadium.
Co-head coach and offensive coordinator Lisa Horton has a solid arsenal in quarterback Alyssa “Sissy” George, running back/wide receiver Marcelina Chavez, running backs Maria Fautali and Arielle Smith, along with wide receivers Ellisyn Mularski and Jana Meister. Last season this group pulled together to generate 160 points during the regular season.
Offensive line coach Zack Thrasher can count on a quality effort at the line of scrimmage with the return of Emaalee Tunney, Jacqueline Cook, Kimberly Zubovic, and Kaitlain Niedermeyer.
Teresa Conn, co-owner, co-head coach, and defensive coordinator, looks to Chelsea Biggers, Zubovic, and Niedermeyer on the defensive line paired with linebackers Hannah Damon, Devon Peace, and Katelyn Polenik to keep the other team’s offense off-balance.
Among the athletes ready to pick off a pass for defensive backs coach Barata Bey and add to the scoresheet are Lawanda Pearson, LaKeitha Barrett, Ashley DiCicco, and Rebecca Ehrgood.
Some of the Black and Gold rookies who could step up this season include Sarah Paladin (RB), Melissa “Qiqi” Gatto-Hall (WR), Kayla Pierce (LB), and Angela Hayden (DB).
The official press release for this Saturday’s meeting states, “This season will be the first season for the Passion to be without NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris on the sideline as co-owner. The team will be looking to reflect on all the wonderful qualities that Franco exhibited on and off the field. The Passion will USE #belikeFRANCO this season across all the team social media accounts.”
2022 Women’s Football Alliance Plays of the Week: Week 1 – Passion’s Marcelina Chavez…
Allysea Marfull is in her second season as head coach of the Divas. The Burgundy and Gold were 2-4-0 in 2022 and tallied 177 points on offense while surrendering 198 on defense.
Jennell Thomas and Amanda Congialdi split the quarterback chores last year and combined for 19 passing touchdowns. The duo of Lexie Floor and Shaquanda Gainey caught 16 scoring strikes at wide receiver. Hermonie Buckman and Kayla Sakyi are on hand to help give the running attack traction.
Defensive Coordinator Aaron Raffle has the quartet of defensive end Haneen Rababa, linebacker Narcesca Arzu, and defensive backs Kucheria Johnson and Genaya Davis to contribute to stopping the opposition.
Weather: The Weather Channel crew is projecting Saturday rain showers in the evening with possible clear skies overnight. After a daytime high of 74 degrees, the nighttime low could reach 46 degrees. Winds should come out of the west to northwest at five to 10 mph. The chance of rain is 80 percent.
Media: This early WFA showdown is on the Women Sports Network streaming service, and the Scorestream app brings you the game-day stats.
Your Updates: Twitter At @pghpassionFB – Facebook At PittsburghPassion – Instagram pghpassion
Here Is The Rest Of The Passion 2023 Schedule:
Saturday, April 29th – Bye Week
Saturday, May 6th – HOME OPENER Vs. Tampa Bay Inferno
Saturday, May 13th – Away At Boston Renegades
Saturday, May 20th – Away At Detroit Venom
Saturday, May 27th – Bye Week
Saturday, June 3rd – HOME Vs. D.C. Divas
Saturday, June 10th – HOME Vs. Boston Renegades
GRIDIRON CLIPBOARD: Pittsburgh home contests are at Joe P. DeMichela Stadium, part of West Allegheny High School in Imperial, PA. The matchups get underway at 6:00 p.m. You can find your tickets online here.