(IMPERIAL, PA) There have been numerous adjectives that have described the St. Louis SLAM during its 2016 season.
The words “tenacious,” “aggressive,” “hungry” and “disciplined” have been used to tag the local representative of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA).
Now it can add a three-word identifier to its lexicon.
This comes following the SLAM’s 38-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Inferno Friday night at the WFA Tier II national championship game at Joe P. DeMichela Stadium. With the trophy win, the SLAM finished the season 7-2 and claimed its first national title since 2009.
How impressive have the SLAM been as the season has progressed? Consider this. Exactly three months ago, the squad was 1-2 and was looking to just stay afloat in the WFA’s ultra-competitive complexion.
Its ensuing six-game winning streak highlighted the turnaround and Friday’s 31-point exclamation mark over the Floridians, undefeated at 10-0 heading into battle, completed the hard-charging effort.
It did not take long for the SLAM to set the tone in the WFA Tier II finale. After immediately halting the Inferno on its opening possession, St. Louis constructed a seven-play, 45-yard scoring drive. With Hay’s four-yard touchdown scamper at the 10:35 mark, combined with her successful kick afterwards, the SLAM possessed a 7-0 lead.
St. Louis’ defense, paced by Raven Williams, Tiffany Pugh, Kaylee Kneutzling, Jelani Kelly, Robyn Morrow, Pamela Green, Brooklyn Bastain and a host of others, forced another “three-and-out” on the Inferno’s next possession, resulting in another Tampa Bay punt and good field position for the SLAM’s second drive.
St. Louis quickly hit the pay window with Danielle Brock’s six-yard touchdown run with 6:35 left in the first quarter. Hay connected with her second PAT kick that pushed the score to 14-0.
Tampa Bay managed to gain a little momentum offensively as the first quarter progressed but had to punt with three minutes left. The SLAM then orchestrated a 57-yard drive that carried over into the second quarter. With Knuetzling’s 35-yard field goal in the early stages of the frame, St. Louis extended its lead to 17-0.
The Inferno kept struggling offensively in the half and with Brock snagging an interception on the next Tampa Bay drive, St. Louis regained possession at its own 44-yard line with 9:50 left in the half.
A seven-play, 56-yard back-breaker followed, accented by Candice Watkins’ 26-yard scoring romp with 6:45 left in the half. Hay’s successful kick widened the SLAM’s lead to 24-0.
No doubt, St. Louis’ first-half offensive output, paced by the line work of Juan Snow, Caitlin Erickson, Marion Ball, Antonnia Washington, Myrt Davis and a host of others, was instrumental in the squad’s 24-point lead at intermission.
“The (offensive) line was amazing,” said Hay of her sistren. “Whatever they did, they just made it right.”
In the third quarter, Tampa Bay suffered a serious blow as multi-purpose starter and high-octane scorer Marcelina Chavez, who had 15 touchdown runs heading into Friday’s game, went down with a leg injury that resulted in the veteran being carted off the field.
With a key cog now out of the Inferno wheelhouse, the SLAM churned a 50-yard scoring drive deep in the frame that widened the score. Watkins notched her second touchdown of the game with a 31-yard end zone romp with 1:45 left in the third. Hay’s successful kick followed and St. Louis pushed the score to 31-0.
The SLAM’s defensive unit remained unblemished in the trophy game. In fact, the lone Inferno points on the evening were scored via a fumble recovery claimed by Rosalee Hammonds with 10:30 left in the fourth quarter that resulted in a 31-7 scoreboard post following the successful PAT kick.
Undaunted, St. Louis notched its final score in the title game with Knuetzling’s 42-yard touchdown reception with 2:30 left to play.
The SLAM outscored Tampa Bay, 14-7, in the second half en route to the 38-7 championship victory and its second WFA title.
Founded in 2003, St. Louis was inactive on the field as a franchise in 2014. When it returned to the turf last season, it went with the marketed motto of “Unfinished Business.”
With Friday night’s Tier II WFA championship win, the SLAM can now consider 2016’s championship season as “Transaction Completed.”
For more information on SLAM Football, go to stlslam.com.