The United States and Austria made American Football history at the Zinkensdamms IP Stadium in Stockholm when they kicked off the first-ever IFAF Women’s World Championship at 1pm local time on Sunday, June 27.
The Americans cruised to a 63-0 victory as Boston Militia running back Mia Brickhouse rushed for two touchdowns and the US defense stifled the Austrian attack, which showed glimmers of promise through team MVP running back Marie-Theres Michelitsch, who rished for 71 yards.
“I’m pleased with the win of course,” said Team USA head coach John Konecki. “We tried to stay balanced with our running and passing game and took what the defense gave us. We came out slowly, but soon found our rhythm.”
New York Sharks wide receiver Adrienne Smith scored the first historic points in IFAF Women’s World Championship history with a 52-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Jennifer Schmidt of the Kansas City Tribe.
Team USA MVP Rusty Sowers then reeled in a five-yard touchdown pass as to establish an early 13-point lead, but Saskia Stribrny of the Raiffeisen Lady Vikings blocked the extra point attempt.
The US thought an interception return by Sharon Vasquez of the Pittsburgh Passion had doubled the lead but an inadvertent whistle brought the return that had gone all the way to the end zone back to the line of scrimmage. Angela Bandstra of the Tennessee Valley Tigers produced a crucial pass break as Austria threatened to move downfield.
The US wasted no time in putting further points on the board as Melissa Gallegos of the Southern California Scorpions found a wide-open Jennifer Blum of the NY Sharks in the end zone from14-yards out for a 19-point advantage after a two-point conversion attempt failed.
The powerful Jessica Springer of the Dallas Diamonds gained 24 dominant yards up the middle as the US opened the second quarter by going to a hurry up offense that put Austria even more on the back foot. That opened up the field for Danilynn Welniak of the Tigers to reel in a 14-yard touchdown catch and a decisive 27-0 lead after Adrienne Wilson of the Boston Militia caught a two-point conversion pass with 10:27 remaining in the half.
After another bustling Springer carry took the US to within a yard of the end zone, setting up Brickhouse to break the plain and add the two-point conversion for a 35-0 lead. Knengi Martin of the California Quake then passed from 24 yards out to USA MVP Rusty Sowers with one second remaining on the first half clock for a 42-0 interval lead.
Brickhouse ran off the blocking of Springer for her second touchdown from two yards out to score early in the third quarter, before the Austrians mustered an offensive threat in reply. Michelitsch took a neatly executed misdirection run to earn a rare first down, but again the USA defense held firm.
Springer, who led the US with 12 carries for 120 yards, earned deserved reward for her afternoon of moving the chains for the US with a determined charge down the left sideline for a 45-yard touchdown and a 56-point advantage.
Quarterback Sami Grisafe of the Chicago Force got in on the action when she kept the ball on a bootleg as the entire Austria defense bit on the play and surged left, while she ran to the right and jogged three yards untouched to the end zone for a for 63-0 final score.