By Minnesota Vixen Staff
Peaking at the right time. It’s a tough assignment, but winners find ways to get it done when the stakes are high, and that’s what the Minnesota Vixen plan to do in the Women’s Football Alliance Division II American Conference championship against the Mile High Blaze at 7 p.m., on July 14 at Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights.
In 20 seasons of play, the Vixen have belonged to four different leagues (WPFL, NWFA, IWFL, WFA) and made it to the postseason six times, but they’ve never won a championship. And while hoisting a trophy in Atlanta on July 27 would be a phenomenal experience, the team is dialed in and focused on the task at hand – beating the Blaze.
“(Mile High has) played some tough teams this year and done well against them,” said Vixen offensive coordinator Danny Ekstrand. “They have some great playmakers on their team, and a great coaching staff that will make adjustments and get them ready for us. The main goal is to keep taking this one game at a time.”
Minnesota knows it needs contributions from all three aspects of the game – offense, defense and special teams – to win its remaining games. Against Wisconsin in the conference semifinal on June 30, they put up 35 points, picked off the Dragons three times, and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
The kickoff return came after a tipped-ball interception put the Dragons on Minnesota’s 28-yard line. The next play, Wisconsin’s Kelly Washington caught a pass in the flats, got to the sideline and ran 28 yards through the Vixen defense for the game’s first score by either team. That would end up being the Dragons’ only score of the game, as the Vixen put up 35 points by halftime and sat most of their starters on both sides of the ball for much of the second half.
“Sudden change play is so crucial in this game,” said Vixen defensive coordinator Nick Leach. “How you react to those situations defines who you are as a team.”
Ekstrand agrees. “The main goal is to keep taking this one play at a time. We have been in some tough situations this year, and more often than not we have come out on the winning side. I believe in this team.”
The Mile High Blaze have been in tough situations as well, losing twice to Division I Kansas City in the regular season and fending off a late-game surge from the San Diego Rebellion to win their second-round playoff game in the Pacific Region.
“Mile High is a team full of competitors. They want to head to Atlanta as much as we do. If we are not careful, we will be watching from the stands,” said wide receivers coach Jake Potter.
The Vixen will post live updates on Twitter during their away games, and for the fourth year in a row, Town Square Television will broadcast home games live on local cable access channels and streaming online.