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Monday, May 20, 2024
The Observer

Women's Interhall: Purple Weasels take on Phoxes

Pasquerilla West (7-0) and Pangborn (5-2) square off Sunday in a rematch of one of the season's most tightly contested games, but this time a trip to Notre Dame Stadium is on the line. Early in the season, the Purple Weasels defeated the Phoxes 6-0. In that game, a last-minute touchdown by junior quarterback Simone Bigi won the game in a downpour on a muddy Riehle Field.

"That was our most emotional, highly fought win of the regular season," Pasquerilla West senior captain Cynthia Curley said. "It was a defensive battle and dramatic win."

The Purple Weasels have been dominant in all of their other games this season, but this was a battle that could have gone either way thanks in part to the conditions. That clash left them with a sense of appreciation for Pangborn's squad.

"We know they're a very, very good team, and very capable," Curley said.

The Phoxes' main threat is junior quarterback Gabby Tate, whom Curley described as "pretty ferocious" but added that Pasquerilla West is not intimidated. To contain Tate, the Purple Weasels will look to the defensive line led by senior Lindsey McMahon for a pass rush and then to its secondary for strong pass defense. On the offensive side of the ball, Curley said that her team will utilize its balanced attack and spread the ball between its receivers and backs.

Pangborn, in addition to relying on Tate, will hope that its receiving corps can provide open targets for passes. They will also continue to use the running game for balance on the offensive side of the ball, while looking to its defense, led by senior Kaitlin Furrey, to stop the Purple Weasels' multi-pronged attack. For the Phoxes, this game has brought about a lot of anticipation.

"I wish we could say that we treat every game the same," Tate said. "But everyone is so excited for this one."

The heartbreaking style in which the Phoxes lost to Pasquerilla West has added fuel to the fire.

"I wouldn't call it revenge," Tate said. "But I think out of anyone, we're most excited to play them."

The semifinal matchup holds special meaning for Tate, who has longed to play football in the Stadium since she visited campus during her senior year of high school and now stands only one win away from realizing that dream. The Purple Weasel powerhouse stands in the Phoxes' way, and Curley expects nothing less than the best.

"We will be very disappointed if we don't come out with a win and go to the Stadium," she said. In this semifinal matchup, however, only one thing is for sure.

"It's going to be an exciting fight Sunday," Tate said.

Pasquerilla West looks to continue what Curley calls its "flawless season" and Pangborn tries to score an emotional victory when the teams meet on Sunday at 1 p.m. at LaBar Fields.

Howard vs. Walsh

Undefeated Howard (6-0) faces its newest challenge Sunday when it takes on Walsh (5-1) with an elusive trip to the Stadium at stake in a semifinal matchup.

The Ducks have dominated the competition all season, relying on a mantra of "Offense wins games, but defense wins championships." Howard's stingy defense is led by sophomore safety Caroline Walsh. A key reason that the Ducks have fielded such a strong defense is great flag pulling skills.

On offense, Howard likes to throw the ball around, as junior quarterback Kayla Bishop hits junior wide receiver Kaitlin Robinson, and sophomore wide receivers Jenny Gassner and Kristyn Jeffries. 

Walsh hopes to upset Howard by playing with a lot of heart and putting forth a committed team effort.  On offense, the Wild Women are led by junior quarterback Amy Langnecker, junior wide receiver Amy Schnazer and sophomore lineman Meg Kowieski.  Senior Jen Valencia and junior Carolyn Leary anchor the Walsh defense.

Although Howard is undefeated, the Wild Women are not intimidated.  Walsh senior captain Meghan Hadley said that since Howard played in a different division and the two never played, the better team won't be known until after the game on Sunday.

"I think that people are underestimating our team and assuming that it's going to be Howard against Pasquerilla West in the Stadium," Hadley said. "But we're not letting it get to us.  On the contrary, we're feeding off of it.  It's igniting our spirit and driving us to excellence. We're not taking anything for granted."

Although Howard has made an undefeated run this season, the Ducks are making their first ever-semifinal appearance.  One might assume that this is a disadvantage, but Howard doesn't seem to think so.

"We've made it further than Howard has in its entire history, so we already have a successful team and season," Bishop said. "We'd love to finish this season with a perfect record and a championship victory, but the pressure isn't as big for us because we've never been here before."

Both teams expect a strong show of support as they make their final push for the Stadium Sunday at 2 p.m. at LaBar Fields.