During the course of a season, you face games that test your resolve. And every season with women’s football, this is the time when you typically see teams down in numbers. It happens for various reasons. People are injured, it’s wedding and graduation season, work and family things happen. Once you get to June numbers always drop. This was one of those games for us. We had several people out due to injury and events going on. So we had to move some people around in different positions and other people had to play both ways that don’t normally.
Now, in my personal experience with this sport, most teams struggle with numbers. It’s just the way it is. I think it has to do with the fact that people are motivated by different things. And unfortunately, since we aren’t at the point where we are paid to play, you find a lot of people dropping out because of life scenarios. There’s nothing wrong with that. It just is what it is. I think once we get to the point where we are paid, you will see some of that go away because priorities change when it’s hitting your bank account to help you survive.
So really, every single team in the sport deals with this issue in some way. I’ve played in games with 13 people before and never came off the field. I think on this Seattle team we have been a little spoiled. We have certainty have had injuries but we have been blessed with decent depth to where the next person would be able to step up into the role and produce.
This game however, there were several people gone. So we had to switch people around. With inexperienced teams this can throw people off. You get comfortable playing next to certain people and you trust that you know what your job is and they know what theirs is. Unfortunately, change is the name of the game in football and the better teams are able to overcome these situations.
We drove down to Portland for the final regular season game. We also knew that the last time we played the Shockwave we were challenged, especially in the first half. It was another warm game but luckily at Hillsboro Stadium, the field is in a little bit of a bowl to where there was a breeze that came in.
The first half we were challenged again. With people playing out of position we made some mistakes we normally wouldn’t make and the Shockwave had made adjustments since the last time we played them. They blitzed a lot more when they were on defense which we had to adjust to. When they were on offense they put in a new formation we hadn’t seen and we had to adjust to that as well. We scored first on offense but they scored on a long bomb on I believe that new formation.
Our defense has played so well most of the season and some of the players are less experienced. So after that play, I pulled the defense aside and talked to them. I told them that yes, we have people playing out of position and mistakes are going to happen. But we needed to be patient with each other, find the mistakes, communicate, and fix them. I was very pleased by the reaction of the players who before I spoke seemed tense. They snapped out of feeling the pressure of trying to finish 8-0 and focused on the moment. From that moment on, we made adjustments on defense and played pretty well even when the Shockwave tried to throw the kitchen sink at us with random offensive plays.
We went into the locker room up 18-6. As was the case all year, we made adjustments in the locker room. We are smart team and I like that if we get burnt we are able to communicate with each other and fix it. It’s rare if people can beat us twice on something.
We came out of the locker room determined to finish strong and we did. We pulled away and won 44-6. People made plays and even though it wasn’t easy, we got it done. This was playoff type of game for us. In the playoffs, things will go sideways on you. But it’s the teams that are able to push through that will win. And if you watch playoff sports in TV, namely the NFL and NBA, you will notice that during those games is when people come out of the woodworks to make amazing plays. There is something about that moment that tests you and then either brings the best or worst out of you. The beauty is watching it develop.
Also on a humorous note, there were a couple of plays I was involved in that I found quite funny. There was one time in the first half I came on a blitz and wrapped up the quarterback. I had her arms wrapped up completely but somehow, on the way down to the ground, she was able to squeeze the ball under my arm and to the running back. We caught the running back still behind the line of scrimmage but I have no clue how the quarterback, who is also my friend, did that. I can’t wait to see it on film.
The other play, I came on the blitz in the 2nd half, and I was so quick in the backfield that I don’t think the handoff had happened yet. I ended up hitting the running back pretty hard only to realize the quarterback had the ball. So either they improvised or completely faked me out but it was pretty damn funny to wrap up the wrong person. I took some teasing from it but I figured that if you are going to miss, it’s best to miss at 100 percent.
The playoffs are a new beast and we start our journey at home on June 27th against our division rivals the Tacoma Trauma. The last time we played it was a dog fight and we look forward to more of the same.