“Unfinished business” has been the battle cry for the St. Louis SLAM women’s professional tackle football franchise this season. This weekend, they embark on a playoff journey to the Lone Star State and look to keep that catch phrase intact with victory.
St. Louis faces the Dallas Elite in the opening round of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) 2015 National Championship Saturday at Alfred Loos Stadium in Addison, Texas. Kickoff is at 7 p.m and the winner advances to the WFA quarterfinal round, to face either Kansas City or Arlington, in two weeks’ time.
This season has been monumental for the SLAM, a franchise that was inactive in 2014. St. Louis (6-2) punched its ticket to the WFA’s post-season field of sixteen by topping the American Conference – Great Plains Division. A four-game winning streak midway through the regular season provided the catalyst for the berth.
St. Louis, WFA National Champions in 2009, last appeared at the playoffs in 2013. Positioning itself as one of the sixteen post-season participants within the WFA’s 44-league complexion this campaign was quite an accomplishment.
Without question this Saturday, they’re hungry and chomping at the bit to show that they are a force to be reckoned with in the bracket of sixteen.
“We couldn’t be more excited!” said SLAM running back Taylor Hay. “First year back on the gridiron and earning a spot in the first round of the WFA playoffs is more than a blessing! We have worked hard all season for this moment!”
Saturday’s moment for the SLAM was achieved with so many working, and fluid, parts during the regular season. Offensively, quarterback Jelani Kelly has thrown for 16 touchdown passes and has collected six scoring runs. The aforementioned Hay has seven end zone scampers and has converted 21 of 23 PAT kicks. Receiver Keyonna Smith has six scoring snags while Kaylee Kneutzling and Victoria Nichols each have four.
The offense this season has been paced by the solid line work of Juan Snow, Caitlin Erickson, Toni Washington, Nicola Ackles and Quianna Dickerson. With that front wall anchoring, the SLAM has outscored its opponents, 256-206, during the regular season.
On the other side of the ledger, defensively, the SLAM’s Kendall Park, Tiffany Pugh, Chiara Robinson, Amanda Lee, Brooklyn Dunihoo, Raven Williams, Brooklynn Bastain and Alana Fields have collectively held opponents to minimal points during imperative stretches.
The task is tough on the road this Saturday for the SLAM, for the opponent carries a lot of gridiron firepower.
Dallas (8-0) topped the WFA’s American Conference- Southwest Division and has collectively outscored its opponents, 449-12. In six of its eight games during the regular season, the Elite recorded a shutout. In the other two match-ups, its defense held the opposition to a lone touchdown.
This is the Elite’s inaugural season, but there are numerous veterans that pulled duty for the former Dallas Diamonds, which ceased operations following the WFA’s 2013 season. Quarterback Jessica Gerhart has 19 touchdown passes on the year while running back Tiffany Hill has nine trips to the end zone. The all-purpose Brittany Satterwhite has five touchdown runs and seven scoring receptions.
With numbers like these, Dallas is an imposing opponent, but the SLAM is primed to hang with the Texan gunslingers and move into the WFA quarterfinal round.
“They are fast and they are strong, but so are we,” said the SLAM’s Hay. “Just like any other game, the team who makes the least amount of mistakes wins. We have to avoid mental mistakes and play collectively as a unit. They do have a core of experienced vets, so this will be the most exciting game of the season!”
And with a Saturday win, the SLAM will keep its respective “business” open.
For more information on the St. Louis SLAM, go to stlslam.com.