(INNER GROVE HEIGHTS, MN) A consistent methodology by the undefeated St. Louis SLAM women’s pro tackle football franchise was once again implemented at their 35-21 road victory against the Minnesota Vixen Saturday night.
Start with an early first quarter touchdown followed by an overwhelming defensive stop. Repeat the pattern as the half progresses, building towards a comfortable lead at intermission. Glide to victory, followed by high-fives, fist-bumps and hugs. Reflections on how to improve play after the post-game coaches’ chat.
For the defending Tier II National Champions of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), the SLAM sported a 21-0 halftime lead en route to the victory that kept their ledger spotless (7-0) in 2017 and netted their thirteenth consecutive victory overall.
With the game’s opening possession, the SLAM executed a five-play, 55-yard scoring drive that was concluded with Danielle Price’s 40-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Jaime Gaal at the 12:40 mark. Taylor Hay booted the extra point as St. Louis drew first blood, 7-0.
St. Louis then utilized its stubborn defense, paced by Tiffany Pugh, Kaylee Neutzling, Vicki Nichols, Jelani Kelly, Pamela Green, Brooklyn Bastain, Keyonna Smith, Robyn Morrow, Raven Williams, Myrt Davis and Annie Grier, and trapped the Vixen (5-2), forcing a punt.
Minnesota, a veteran franchise but newly-minted WFA Tier I competitor, also employed swift justice and held the SLAM at bay offensively as the first quarter progressed. The SLAM maintained their seven-point lead as the scoreboard’s siren signaled the conclusion of the frame.
In the opening minute of the second quarter, St. Louis took possession at their own 47-yard line and cobbled a 10-play, 53-yard scoring strike anchored by the solid line work of Marion Ball, Caitlin Erickson, Antonnia Washington, Tammie Moore and Juan Snow. Gaal collected her second touchdown strike with a nine-yard completion to Smith at the 9:55 mark. Hay’s successful kick afterwards pushed the SLAM’s lead to 14-0.
Defensive play remained stubborn on both sides of the ball as the frame progressed. With under :15 left in the half, Minnesota was forced to punt. Even though the ensuing kick had speed and distance, the SLAM’s Neutzling was able to corral the pigskin and scamper 58 yards for a punt return touchdown that essentially broke the locals’ morale. Hay’s successful kick afterwards gave St. Louis a 21-0 lead at intermission.
Minnesota finally broke the goose egg in the third quarter and with Kiersten Hansen’s 32-yard quarterback keeper at the 11:25 mark, the Vixen sliced St. Louis’ lead to 21-6.
As the quarter reached its final minute, a key moment was once again recorded by a SLAM’s special team’s unit. Forced to punt from midfield, Neutzling’s howitzer-style carom bounced over the head of the Vixen’s returnee and trickled all the way to the Minnesota one-yard line.
In the opening series of the fourth quarter, the Vixen showed little offense and were forced to punt. On the ensuing kick, the SLAM’s Price returned the pooch to the one-yard line. With 13:45 left in the game, Hay plunged into the end zone for a touchdown. She also added the kick afterwards that widened St. Louis’ lead to 28-6.
To their credit, Minnesota refused to wave the white flag and shored the score to 28-13 following Hansen’s 42-yard touchdown strike to receiver Amanda Dvorak with 11:05 left.
The SLAM’s defense sealed the victory with 6:25 remaining as Neutzling’s 22-yard interception resulted in a “pick six” for the visitors that resulted in a 35-13 lead following Hay’s successful PAT kick.
The Vixen were able to snare a late-touchdown that tightened the differential but the SLAM’s 35-21 output marked the third time this season that St. Louis, a WFA Tier II team, notched a victory over a WFA Tier I franchise. The task will face them again next weekend as they travel to WFA Tier I powerhouse Chicago Force (6-1) on Saturday.
Gaal finished the night completing 17 of 26 passes for 168 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Price snared four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile in the complexion of the upcoming WFA Tier II post-season, St. Louis is on solid ground. With their current placement, the SLAM are guaranteed a top seed in their respective portion of the bracket, will receive a first round bye and will host the Madison Blaze in a Round Two contest slated for Saturday, June 17.
One can certainly project that the SLAM’s aforementioned method of success will once again be utilized in their quest of back-to-back national titles.
For more information on SLAM Football, go to their official website.
PASSING – Gaal: 17-26, 168 YDS, 2 TDs, 1 INT.
RUSHING – Hay: 15-26, 1 TD. Price: 3-20. Kelly: 2-16.
RECEIVING – Price: 4-72, 1 TD. Neutzling: 5-40. Clay 2-18. Pugh: 1-12. Smith: 1-9, 1 TD. Hay: 1-3.
KICKING – Hay: 5-5 PATs.
Story constructed via online coverage provided by Town Square Television. To see the entire playback of the SLAM/Vixen game, CLICK ON THIS LINK.