Monday, May 11, 2009

Game Day: Crushers at Sharks

Brooklyn, New York, May 9, 2009
The New York Sharks (3-1) could ill afford to look towards their next opponent the D.C. Divas. Though that game could be one of the better games of the year in the IWFL, a loss to the Connecticut Crushers (0-4) would basically knock the Sharks out of any playoff contention.

It was supposed to rain later in the day but the skies held as the Crushers won the coin toss and elected to receive. The fear of taking the winless Connecticut team too lightly was quickly dispelled during the first drive of the game.

On defense, the Sharks actually pushed the Crushers back a yard and forced them to punt after only 3 plays. On offense, New York took their first drive 55 yards all the way into the endzone. Using a well balanced attack of pass and run plays, the Sharks scored in 7 plays. The bulk of the yardage was gained by Lisa Doran, but the scoring play was a 17 yard pass from Karen Mulligan to Mandy Oppel. Lauren Pringle kicked the extra point and the Sharks were on the board first with 9:47 to go in the first quarter.

On the Crushers second drive of the game they fared better and was able to move the ball down to the Sharks' 35-yard line before their offense sputtered. Connecticut elected to punt the ball on fourth down and punter Christine Huber kicked a beauty. Her kick was downed by the Crushers at the New York 2 yard line.

On first down Mulligan took the snap and while standing deep in her own endzone, found wide receiver Adrienne Smith open on the left side. She connected with Smith at the 27-yard line and then Smith turned on the jets and streaked down the sideline, not stopping until she got to the endzone. The 98-yard touchdown reception was the longest in Sharks' history, eclipsing the old record of 94-yards on a pass to Kathy Holloman from quarterback Val Halesworth in 2004. Pringle was successfully converted the extra point and New York was ahead 14-0.

It didn't take long for New York to strike again. After another 3 and out for Connecticut, Huber was punting from her own 29-yard line. She got off a decent punt and rookie Chante Bonds was back to catch the ball at the Sharks' 44-yard line. Bonds ran to her right and with lots of blocking help, ran it all the way into the endzone for another hometown score. Pringle missed the extra point attempt, but the Sharks were comfortably ahead 20-0 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, New York's defense held Connecticut pretty much in check. On offense, the Sharks did add one more score on a 5-yard run by running back Vivian Alberty. That was the capper on a 8-play drive. Again Pringle missed the extra point try but the score was 26-0 at halftime.

With a commanding lead, the New York offense main goal was to eat away at the clock. Most of the plays in the second half were on the gound. This approach did not lead to any more scores by the offense but that still did not prevent the Sharks from scoring the rest of the game.

On Connecticut's first drive of the second half, linebacker Christine Pagan. playing in first game since injuring her leg in the season opener, picked off a Kristin Fillian pass at the Crushers' 35-yard line. Pagan then raced into the endzone for another New York score. This time Pringle split the uprights on the extra point attempt to widen the lead to 33-0.

The Crushers' next drive showed a little bit more success. After the kick-off Fillian was able to lead her team down to the Sharks' 15-yard line. She could have got them even closer as she threw a completed pass to wide receiver Huber at the 5-yard line. Huber had to leap into the air to catch the ball and after she came down was quickly hit by Shark Toni Salvatore. The ball came out of Huber's hands and the loose ball was deemed to be a fumble by the referee. Sharks rookie Hannah Williams was in the neighborhood and quickly cleaned up the spillage. She then proceeded to run down the right side of the field all the way into the endzone for New York's final touchdown of the day. After a Pringle point, the Sharks were ahead 40-0 with 20 minutes left to go in the game.

By the time the fourth quarter rolled by, Connecticut's offense started to wake up. Going mostly to the air, the Crushers were able to get on the scoreboard twice on back to back drives in the last quarter. Their first touchdown of the day coming on a nifty 52 yard pass from Fillian to Jennifer D'Orio. There were three Shark defenders around her when she fought to catch the ball and then proceeded to break out of their clutches to score.

On their second score they used running back Christina Philibert to pound her way into the endzone. But that was score was set up by a 30 yard pass by Filian. Huber was successful on both point after attempts. But it was all too little, too late as the Sharks won the game by a final score of 40-14.

The Sharks were pretty dominate throughout the game, both on offense and defense. New York set many team records on their scoring plays both offensively and defensively. The Powerade Zero player of the game ended up not going to any particular player but to the whole offensive line. They again provided the Sharks quarterbacks with ample amount of protection and rarely did the Crushers get into the backfield to harrass Mulligan.

Up next, the Sharks will next host the D.C. Divas (4-0) in the biggest game of the season so far. If New York is to have any playoff hopes, they will have to beat D.C. This will be no easy feat as the Sharks are 1-2 lifetime against the Washington club and the Divas dismantled last year's division champion Pittsburgh Passion 27-7 last week. Game time is 3:30pm (EDT) at the Aviator Sports Complex. If you cannot make it to the park, you can follow the game with Pat Brown and Dave Maxwell describe all the hard hitting action on WFNradio.

Connecticut Crushers 0-0-0-14: 14
New York Sharks 20-6-14-0: 40

Scoring Summary
First Quarter
NY - (09:47) Oppel 17 yard pass from Mulligan (Pringle kick)
NY - (05:06) Smith 98 yard pass from Mulligan (Pringle kick)
NY - (03:56) Bonds 56 yard punt return (kick failed)

Second Quarter
NY - (04:57) Alberty 5 yard run (kick failed)

Third Quarter
NY - (10:45) Pagan 35 yard interception return (Pringle kick)
NY - (06:22) Williams 96 yard fumble recovery (Pringle kick)

Fourth Quarter
CT - (13:27) D'Orio 52 yard pass from Fillian (Huber kick)
CT - (13:27) Philibert 1 yard run (Huber kick)

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