Los Angeles Warriors (9-0) vs Portland Fighting Shockwave (6-2)
Rancho Cienega Sports Complex, 6 p.m., Saturday, June 30th
by Warriors Staff
We have made it! WFA Playoffs! This year has been the hottest race to date. With nine teams in Division I play and only eight playoff spots, the team starting on the sidelines this season is last year’s champions, Dallas Elite. As shocking as that was to see on the Massey Ratings, it ignited hope to the entire Division I field that a new Queen of WFA football would be crowned this year. This shock especially rang true for the West. In the last two seasons, the Dallas Elite had held such a strong hold on the western conference that teams started their season knowing they would have to go through Dallas. This is no longer the case.
In the far west, there are the two strongest teams: Los Angeles Warriors and Portland Fighting Shockwave. Both teams, over the years, have been looked over as any type of contender for the National title. The Shockwave has always had to share the spotlight with the Seattle Majestics. This was the same for the Warriors as they shared with the Central Cal War Angels and San Diego Surge, but this past offseason led for those teams to disappear, and now is the time for each to prove what they are worth.
The Shockwave and the Warriors have developed a fun rivalry. Two years ago, the Warriors travelled to Portland to win in playoff play by a single touchdown. During the 2018 regular season, the Warriors travelled again to Portland and unleashed multiple hits to the Shockwave and leaving the city with a 52-8 win. But now, Playoffs are here! It is time to put all the cards on the table and hold nothing back. And the Shockwave have a lot to prove to themselves and to the league that they should be moving on to Round 2.
The Shockwave season started off like their previous seasons. Regardless of offseason drama, their earlier game scores were being won single handedly, as it was to be expected. They were flexing their dominance against Division II and Division III teams, as it was to be expected. They had won their first four games with ease, as it was to be expected. Then they met the Warriors. And their level of excellence on the field took a turn for the worst. Unable to move the ball on offense, a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, an interception returned for a touchdown, and no answer for the running backs, the Shockwave did not play their best ball. Then it was a bye week. The rest and time would give the group a way to come back even stronger. Unfortunately, they lost after the bye to a team they had defeated a few weeks prior.
But the Shockwave are back. They won out their season. Even with the drama that happened during the Week 9 game, the silver lining was they did something unexpected. They scored on a kickoff. And even more extraordinary, they did it twice in the same game! With this momentum, the Shockwave are in high spirits.
“I’m approaching this game with intensity and the mind set of it being the most important game of the season,” Rebecca Dawson, #24 of the Shockwave and 1st Team All-American running back stated. “I’m expecting more from myself in this game than I gave the last time we met.”
The Shockwave lost their identity during the first meeting between these two teams this season, but they want to focus on what they do best, which is being a multiple threat team. Dawson echoed this with being focused on the Shockwave, and what they need to do. Furthermore, Tess Bair (#36 of the Shockwave, 2nd Team All-American linebacker) stated that their focus has been on throwing the ball and containing the outside run. The head coach of the Shockwave, Tim Price, summed it up: “Come out with a victory.”
Now turning the focus to the Los Angeles Warriors. The Warriors were talked about around the league at the beginning of the season, not for their game play, but really for their lack of games! The beginning of the season looked unprecedented. The Warriors started the season with a bye, then their opponents forfeited Week 2. Then during Week 3, the Warriors received information that the team had folded. With one game under their belt, it was unknown what the Warriors would do in Portland. Watching that game seemed like it was a lion being released from its cage. The offense scored on the ground and through the air. Priscilla Gardner (#43, 1st Team All-American running back) burned up the field with 3 touchdowns and Alexis Snyder (#10, 1st Team All-American running back) added on multiple two-point conversions. In addition, there was an air attack, one of which resulting into a touchdown by Lisa King (#9, 1st Team All-American wide receiver). And the Warriors left Portland and played three more games, even a game that was not previously scheduled, with the same fire and fervor as the first. The end of the season started as the beginning, and the Warriors finished with a forfeit from their opponent.
The question for the Warriors: Should they be in the playoffs and how far will they go? They were undefeated through the season, but was it because the level of their opponents not challenging enough, or are the Warriors that good?
“Being in the playoffs is why I play because the stakes are higher, and the pressure is greater,” Marirose Roach, #6 of the Warriors and First Team All-American punt returner expressed. “It’s the best of the best all vying for a chance at the Ship. There is no choice but to step up and be a playmaker.”
Having a month off, the Warriors have turned to a lot of film study that included playing and critiquing themselves. Head Coach Bobby Patterson challenged his players to “not only look at what was accomplished last game but to also coach against yourself.” In addition, Coach Patterson has stressed to his team that the Warriors will not see the same Shockwave; they will come out hungrier.
Both teams have everything riding on this game. Not only does the winner of this game moves on to Round 3 and face either the Arlington Impact or the Kansas City Titans, but in addition it will be the first time, in either team’s history, to move past round two in WFA playoff play.
One thing that both teams can agree on with this game, regardless of the outcome, is the respect each team has for each other. They know it will be hard-fought. They know that if a team gains a yard, it will be well earned. It is blue collar football, and that it will be an exciting game to watch!
Who will it be?
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