In a game that will be closely watched nationally by those that follow the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), the St. Louis SLAM aims to keep its record unblemished this weekend in a road trip against its toughest competition yet this season.
The Gateway City-based women’s professional tackle football franchise (6-0) faces the Minnesota Vixen (5-1) at 6 p.m. at Simley Athletic Field in Inner Grove Heights, Minnesota.
What makes this inaugural meeting between the pair intriguing is that the SLAM, the defending WFA Tier II National Champions, and the Vixen, a WFA newcomer that competed in last season’s national title game for the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL), are comparable on paper and the outcome should provide a barometer for b
oth squads’ upcoming post-season placement.
In short, there’s a lot riding on this game.
“We think it’s going to be intense and we have to not make any mistakes,” projected SLAM defensive specialist Tiffany Pugh.
St. Louis notched their twelfth straight game with this past Saturday’s 41-8 dismantling of the Indy Crash at the team’s final regular season home contest. The locals recorded all their points in the first half before a second-half thunderstorm grounded their yardage.
Pivotal to the SLAM’s onslaught was their lock down defense that held the Crash to minimal yardage on their opening four possessions and claimed a pair of turnovers in the process.
“For defense, we always want the shut out,” reflected Pugh of the first-half shutout. “At the end of the day, we’ll take the ‘W.’”
Pugh, Kaylee Neutzling, Vicki Nichols, Jelani Kelly, Pamela Green, Brooklyn Bastain, Keyonna Smith, Robyn Morrow, Raven Williams, Myrt Davis and others will pace Saturday’s SLAM defensive unit.
Conversely, St. Louis’ offense, anchored by the stellar line work of Marion Ball, Caitlin Erickson, Antonnia Washington, Tammie Moore, Cayci Eichmeyer and others, scored in their first four possessions. For the evening, a SLAM sextet each made end zone trips.
“We had some great energy,” said quarterback Jaime Gaal, who went 14-17 for 184 yards and three touchdowns this past Saturday against Indy. “It’s always good to grab a big lead and hang on.”
Running will be paced by veterans Taylor Hay and Danielle Price while rookie Mary Altepeter looks to supplement. Alongside Neutzling and Kelly, receivers Kim Kinsella and Chelsea Clay are expected to Gaal’s targets in the aerial attack.
The origin of the SLAM’s Saturday’s opponent dates back to 1999. Prior to their entry to the WFA this season, the Minnesota Vixen spent eight seasons in the IWFL and appeared in the governing bodies’ Tier 1 National Championship last July. They finished runner-up to the Utah Falcolnz to claim the silver but with newfound territory this season comes newfound success.
After winning their first four games this season, the Vixen was silenced by the Chicago Force, 53-0, in early May. Critically, that outcome was expected as the Illinoisans compete in the higher-classified WFA Tier I and are a perennial post-season juggernaut. Following the setback, Minnesota rebounded and blasted Tier II compatriot Kansas City, 54-14, this past Saturday to push their record to 5-1.
Quarterback Kiersten Hansen paces the offense that features receiver Samantha Barber and running back Grace Cooper. The Vixen has outscored their opponents 201-69 this season, which is impressive considering the 53 points surrendered in the Chicago game.
The inaugural meeting between the equals is projected to be a barn burner. In fact, there is the potential of the contest either a high-scoring shootout or a low-scoring scrap, due to the matching high-octane performances on both sides of the ball by the teams through six games.
“We’re excited but we need to play well and just focus on everything we do,” added Gaal.
In the end, the SLAM are fully ready for Saturday’s scrap but the Vixens also crave victory.
For more information on SLAM football, go to their official website.
Arch City Sports will have a recap posted on Sunday.