(BELLEVILLE, IL) This past Thursday, the St. Louis SLAM found out that they held the top spot in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) Tier II standings.
After Saturday’s 55-0 smothering of the Madison Blaze at its home opener at Lindenwood University’s Belleville campus, it’s a safe bet that they’ll easily retain that position.
Propelled by a suffocating defense that established a winning narrative, the SLAM (2-0) scored 28 points in the first quarter en route to the rout of their WFA American Conference–Great Plains Division compatriot.
“It takes offense and defense, but defense sets the tone,” said SLAM wide receiver Danielle Price afterwards. “They kept us off the field and we try to keep them off the field, but they’ve been doing such an amazing job. They’re working so hard.”
“We didn’t get the goose-egg last week,” added St. Louis defensive back Raven Williams, referring to the team’s late-game surrender to the Indy Crash at the team’s 31-6 season opener. “Tonight, it was our main goal. We simply didn’t want them to score.”
Missive duly noted as the SLAM, the reigning WFA Tier II national champs, have now claimed eight straight victories while allowing a solo touchdown through two games in 2017.
St. Louis drew first blood with 9:45 left in the first quarter as Price rushed from 13 yards out and the SLAM possessed a 7-0 lead following Taylor Hay’s successful kick that followed.
The aforementioned SLAM defense, highlighted by Pamela Green’s quarterback sack during Madison’s third possession, forced the Blaze to punt and on the ensuing return, special teams standout Kaylee Neutzling scampered 33 yards for St. Louis’ second end zone entry of the quarter. Hay’s PAT kick with 7:22 left pushed the team’s lead to 14-0.
On their next possession, the Blaze again punted and the SLAM started with prime positioning at Madison’s 25-yard line. Three successive runs by rookie running back Mary Altepeter was punctuated by her one-yard touchdown plunge with 3:45 left as the SLAM extended their advantage to 21-0 following Hay’s kick.
Another Madison possession resulted in another stoppage by the SLAM as its next drive started on the Blaze’s 40-yard line. On the ensuing snap, quarterback Jaime Gaal connected with Price for a six-point end zone snare. With 1:02 left, St. Louis’s lead blossomed to 28-0 following Hay’s fourth PAT kick of the quarter.
The SLAM offense, paced by the blocking of Antonia Washington, Juan Snow, Marion Ball and a host of others, continued their stellar work in the second quarter and helped Hay collect a two-yard touchdown run at the 12:46 mark that widened the score to 34-0.
Meanwhile, the defense, anchored by Williams, Victoria Nichols, Jelani Kelly, Tiffany Pugh, Brooklynn Bastain, Caitlin Erickson and others, kept Madison scoreless for the remainder of the half and the locals maintained the 34-point cushion at intermission.
In the third quarter, the SLAM scored on their first possession of the half with Hay’s 55-yard touchdown romp with 12:05 remaining. Her kick that followed pushed the score to 41-0.
Late in the frame, the SLAM constructed a six-play, 60-yard scoring drive, capped by Kim Kinsella’s 11-yard touchdown reception from back-up quarterback Jelani Kelly with ten seconds remaining, that blossomed St. Louis’ lead to 48-0 following Hay’s converted kick.
As the second half progressed, the SLAM was able to integrate its newcomers that received valuable turf time.
“They have been amazing,” assessed Price of the additions. “I was a rookie last year. Seeing how they’ve progressed in just two games has really blown my mind. They study, they watch footage and they just do so much on their own. It’s just definitely showing on the field.”
St. Louis extended the onslaught in the fourth quarter to 55-0 with a nine-play, 64-yard drive. Snow, a 15-year SLAM powerhouse on the “O-Line” by trade, was converted to a fullback by design and scored an one-yard touchdown plunge with 10:15 left.
Interceptions in the second half by Nichols and Keyonna Smith helped the SLAM complete the shutout.
“We have so many more bodies this year that’s been helping us,” said Price of her defensive sistren. “We have people that we can put in and know that they are going to do their job.”
St. Louis outscored Madison 21-0 in the second half to post the 55-point shutout and remain undefeated.
In SLAM rushing, Hay finished the night with 140 yards off of nine carries while Altepeter’s 116 yards netted a new personal benchmark.
After their upcoming bye week, the SLAM embarks on an April 22 road trek to cross-state rival Kansas City.
“I think we need these two weeks to rest and let our bodies heal,” said Williams. “When we get to Kansas City, we’ll be 100 percent ready.”
For more information on SLAM football, go to their official website.
SLAM INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
PASSING: Gaal: 4-11, 68 Yds. 1 TD. Kelly: 2-4, 11 Yds. 1 TD
RECEIVING: Price 1-40, 1 TD. Clay: 2-38. Kinsella: 1-11, 1 TD.
RUSHING: Hay: 9-140, 2 TDs. Altepeter: 11-116, 1 TD. Neutzling: 1-28. Owens: 1-15. Price: 1-13, 1 TD. Smith: 1-7. Snow: 1-1, 1 TD.
KICKING: Hay: 7-8 PATs