Looking at its fourth game with a “must-win” mindset, the St. Louis SLAM women’s tackle football franchise travels to Indianapolis this weekend for an important match-up as the squad starts the second-half of its 2016 Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) campaign.
The SLAM (1-2) faces the Indy Crash (3-1) Saturday at Arsenal Technical High School (1500 East Michigan, Indianapolis, IN). Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. Central).
St. Louis suffered a 46-6 home setback last Saturday to undefeated WFA powerhouse Chicago Force and while the loss stung at the moment, clear minds and re-focused, positive attitudes are at the forefront as the team seeks to snap a two-game slide.
It has to be treated this way for the SLAM, who has three regular season games remaining, for they still have a mathematical chance of reaching the WFA playoffs later this summer due to the governing body’s recently implemented, calculated rankings system.
For an overview, each of the 43 WFA teams eligible for rank are first placed into one of three tiers and then by using Massey ratings methodology that takes into consideration factors such as team performance and strength of schedule, a weekly hierarchy is established within the tier.
With this scenario in place, the SLAM currently sits in fifth place in the 18-team Tier II standings while Indy is currently positioned third.
St. Louis has re-matches with Derby City Dynamite (#16 in Tier II) and Kansas City (#8 in Tier I) left after this weekend, so gaining a Saturday victory over a team ranked two spots above in the tier is the primary objective. Quite honestly, they crave three straight to conclude the regular season.
“Indy is a must win,” said SLAM running back Taylor Hay. “(That) along with Derby and KC. If we want good field position for playoffs, winning outright is a must.”
Hay, the team’s top rusher last season, returned to action in limited duty Saturday against Chicago after being injured in the SLAM’s season opener and is projected to be back to full-time status this weekend. Also assisting in the backfield are Jelani Kelly, Raven Williams and Candice Watkins.
St. Louis rookie quarterback Jaime Gaal connected with receiver Kaylee Neutzling Saturday for her eleventh touchdown pass this season. Neutzling has three scoring catches while Keyonna Smith, Chelsea Clay and Daniel Brock each have multiple trips to the end zone.
Hay believes that the key to topple higher-ranked Indy will be high-end performances from all players on both sides of the ball.
“Saturday is about executing the plays on both offense and defense,” she said “From the O and D line to the backfield and secondary, we have to execute!”
Indianapolis picked up its second straight win Saturday in a 26-25 tussle with West Michigan, who currently sits sixth in the Tier II standings. The Crash’s lone setback this season was a 52-0 loss to aforementioned Chicago in WFA Week 2 so, on paper, one could project that the both the Crash and the SLAM perform at the same level…which makes for a good donnybrook this weekend.
“Indy is comparable,” assessed Hay. “They have a lot of new faces anda few seasoned vets that hold them together. “
Two-way Crash player Lea Kasasz is a leading scorer from the quarterback position and is consistently at the top of the defensive ledger in tackles with every game.
The SLAM, once again, has a huge challenge facing them this Saturday in Indianapolis and is ready to accept and, with victory, launch the team upward in the back half of its regular season.
“With the Tier II rankings, with us at #5 and them at #3, we have to prove that we deserve that higher ranking!” Hay said.
For more information on SLAM football, go to stlslam.com.
To look at the current WFA calculated national rankings, go to THIS LINK.