Every game day of my career I encounter nerves. I tell people on my team that haven’t played that nerves are completely normal and if you don’t feel them, then that’s when you should worry. The difference is that I knew on Saturday that I couldn’t play. You would think this would calm me but the energy was the same and I had no idea what to do with it. What this meant is that I’m pretty sure if I had had a pedometer that I would have tracked 4 miles on my crutches. I was a crutching maniac trying to encourage my team. By the 3rd quarter, my arms and my good leg were about to fall off.
Our team has had a lot of early season adversity due to a rash of injuries in a short span. Injuries are a part of football and all you can do is try to rally and adjust. The mentality on our team has been “next woman up”. We lost our starting quarterback, starting center, and starting middle linebacker in a span of a week. By nature of these positions, they are leadership positions. The quarterback is the leader of the offense. The center is the leader of the offensive line. The middle linebacker is the leader of the defense.
I am proud of the way my team has risen to the occasion. We had people stepping up all over the place in our 34-0 win over Everett. Our offense was led by a rookie quarterback. When you are a rookie, it’s hard enough being in your first game and not knowing what’s going on. You add in the fact you are a rookie quarterback and now are starting, and that’s a lot to mentally handle. But Nikki Philen was able to withstand the initial onslaught of pressure and settle in to her new position. She distributed the ball well and you could see her confidence grow from the 1st to the 2nd half. She found receiver Vanessa Caskey for 2 of those scores.
Our defense got some great pressure up front on the Everett quarterback. Wherever she went, she was being knocked around. Elisha Elden had a monster game at defensive end. Kaihla Koroshes stepped in to the middle linebacker spot and she was able to direct the defensive calls well and filled in the run game nicely. One of the rookies that really stepped up this game was April Arnold. Now, when she first game to practice, I could see that she was a natural linebacker and my hunch was right. I saw the look in her eyes on the field and she had the same look I do in a game. It’s akin to being a shark that smells blood in the water. When she made a couple of plays early and started getting very excited, I knew she has been hooked.
In the second half, our secondary started making plays all over the place and creating turnovers. Safety, McKenzie Tolliver started her sophomore season where she left off from last year with another interception. Rookie safety Christina Bell-Robinson, showed that she has true football instincts and no fear.
Overall, there are things that we can improve on but it was a solid first win.
Next week, we welcome the Tacoma Trauma into our house. Last year, Tacoma broke out in a big way and took 2nd in our division before losing to use in the playoffs. There is a lot of familiarity between the two teams and it will be interesting to see how we handle their size. They beat the brand new team in Southern Oregon. I look forward to seeing the development of my team.
Highlights from the game: