WFA 2023 Preview – Pittsburgh Passion Engage Tampa Bay Inferno In Home Opener

By Larry Snyder

Imperial, PA – Coming off an early bye week, the Pittsburgh Passion (1-0-0) return home Saturday, May 7, to confront the Tampa Bay Inferno (1-0-0) at Joe P. DeMichela Stadium. This Women’s Football Alliance clash begins at 6:00 p.m. at West Allegheny High School.

These two squads met in the first round of the 2022 WFA playoffs Saturday, June 11, in Florida, and the Black and Gold required overtime to achieve a 27-21 victory. The Women of Steel charged into the end zone on a 16-yard reverse run by rookie Marcelina Chavez, with first-year quarterback Alyssa George providing a crucial block so Chavez could score.

Pittsburgh opened their 2023 campaign Saturday, April 22, with a 41-15 triumph against the D.C. Divas in Alexandria, Virginia. After building a 14-7 lead in the first half, the Passion erupted for 27 points in the second half. A 10-yard run in the third quarter by second-year running back Maria Fautali got the assault of the box score started.

Next came back-to-back touchdown runs by starting quarterback Marcelina Chavez, two yards and one yard, respectively. After a Divas passing touchdown at 8:31 in the fourth, the Black and Gold responded with a two-yard run score by Brandy Polinick at 2:41 to wrap up the evening’s win. Free safety Lawanda Pearson closed the door with an interception on the first play of D.C.’s succeeding drive.

Chavez took care of the play-calling duties by completing 11 out of 15 attempts for 199 yards and two touchdowns, plus another 58 yards rushing. She had plenty of weapons down the field, with Ellie Mularski grabbing six receptions for 123 yards and a score, while Amanda Haeg snagged two throws for 22 yards and a touchdown. Jana Meister produced five receptions for 73 yards.

Fautali kept the Divas’ defense honest with 15 carries and 128 rushing yards. The ground game saw Arielle Smith checking in with 33 yards running and first-year Sarah Paladin coming through with 16 yards.

Teresa Conn, co-owner, co-head coach, and defensive coordinator, saw 12-year defensive tackle Kaitlain Niedermeyer dispense eight stops and three sacks. Cornerback Rebecca Ehrgood owned five tackles and a pass deflection. Hannah Daman, Maddison Miller, Katelyn Polenik, and George put up four stops each. This unit is ready for Tampa.

Passion co-head coach and offensive coordinator Lisa Horton spoke with Mike Hood of KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live Show about what the late Franco Harris meant to this team as they prepare for the home opener. “Yeah, our whole season is really dedicated to Franco. We have Franco patches on our jersey. Our motto is ‘Be Like Franco’ this year. And it’s really just honoring Franco throughout the season. He’s been a huge supporter of us for the last 18 years. He was at a lot of our games, and really believed in us from the beginning.”

2022 Women’s Football Alliance Plays of the Week: Week 4 – Passion’s Marcelina Chavez, Lawanda Pearson, & Alyssa George …


Tampa Bay head coach Arlo Henderson and the Inferno launched their season at home Saturday, April 29, with a 43-6 victory over the Detroit Venom. The Red, Black, and White offense collected 11 first downs and an impressive 303 total yards.

Starting quarterback Candace Pistole turned in a solid performance by completing nine of 15 attempts for 94 yards, one interception, and two touchdowns. Pistole’s favorite target was wide receiver Meg Joyce, who claimed four catches for 59 yards and both scores. The duo of Tynequia Roberts and Ellexsie Haughton contributed one running touchdown apiece, while Juliette Turner added a pair of scores.

Turner had eight solo tackles and a sack on defense. Two linebackers helped to drain the Venon. Jennifer Marshall supplied three stops and one interception, and Amelie Goebel chipped in a fumble recovery. Sheylia Rutland, Roberta Pass, Miya Ramos, and Ashia Holcombe each furnished one pass deflection.


Tickets: You can obtain your seats online here. Brandon Rossi returns as the public address announcer for the Passion.

Weather: The Weather Channel keeps track of the skies here on the web.

Media: This matchup is on the Women Sports Network streaming service, and the Scorestream app has game-day stats.

Your Updates: Twitter At @pghpassionFB – Facebook At PittsburghPassion – Instagram At pghpassion

NEXT UP: Pittsburgh travels to New England Saturday, May 13, to meet the Boston Renegades at Harry Della Russo Stadium​​. These two combatants come together for the opening kick-off at 6:00 p.m. EDT.

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