The St. Louis SLAM faces their toughest turf opponent this weekend and the stakes are lofty as they continue their 2019 campaign in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA).
The undefeated SLAM host the Minnesota Vixen Saturday at St. Mary’s High School (4701 South Grand). Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
St. Louis battled cross-state rival KC Titans two Saturdays ago and pushed their record to 5-0 with their 28-12 road victory. The SLAM scored four first-half touchdowns that propelled their two-game sweep over Kansas City.
“It’s never easy to beat a team twice in a season,” assessed SLAM linebacker Tiffany Pugh of her team’s performance. “The rivalry between the two teams definitely helps to fuel the competitiveness. I think one of the most important takeaways is that we will never play a perfect game. Other teams will make plays. What’s important is how we respond to those plays.”
The triumph also catapulted the team to the top spot within the WFA Tier II-sanctioned Massey rankings. The calculated formula takes into consideration game-day performance, strength of schedule and output from faced competition that will ultimately determine potential playoff positioning.
And although the top designation is something to hang the helmet on, the SLAM still recognizes that they have three tough opponents remaining on the regular season docket, starting with the also undefeated Vixen (5-0), who currently sits third in the aforementioned rankings
SLAM quarterback Jaime Gaal has ten touchdown passes through five games with receiver Danielle Price being the primary target while Kaylee Neutzling and Jamie Skinner supplements. Running backs Taylor Hay and Mary Altepeter pace the ground game behind the offensive line of Caitlin Erickson, Tammie Moore, Kim Kinsella, Marion Ball and a host of others.
“We run a fast-paced and complex offense,” said Gaal. “It’s critical for the o-line to have physical and mental focus for the offense to be able to move the ball.”
Thanks to that front line firepower, the SLAM have outscored their opponents 199-27 through five games.
“The o-line is the heart and soul of the offense,” said Hay, who has four end zone romps on the season. “Without them, we can’t run or throw.”
Meanwhile the SLAM defense, anchored by Pugh, Chelsea Vinson, Raven Williams, Brooklyn Devitt, Kamilah Russell, Pamela Green, Keyonna Smith and a host of others plan on locking down a Vixen squad that averages over twenty points offensively through five games.
“We’re stingy and we don’t like giving up points,” said Pugh. “We like to set the tone early. Come out physical from the first snap, get the opposing offense off the field and set up our O with good field position.”
The Vixen maintained their undefeated record with last Saturday’s 59-0 home drubbing of Iowa Force.
Minnesota posted a pair of wins over the aforementioned KC Titans and has recorded shutouts in their last three games. Running back Jeannette Nelson has scored eight times on the ground while Belvina McGrath has added three.
The lone prior meeting between the pair occurred in May 2017 and the SLAM collected a 35-21 road win. The Vixen would love to play spoiler this Saturday and even the historical record with a victory that would push them mightily in the aforementioned rankings.
“I anticipate this game being our biggest test both mentally and physically, so far this season,” projected Pugh. “We’ll need to execute well, both offensively and defensively, and limit our mistakes. This game could potentially determine home field advantage throughout playoffs, so I’m sure they’ll give us their best game. We have to be ready to match that intensity.”
The SLAM has seen supportive crowds at St. Mary’s so far this season and would appreciate another vocal collective Saturday in the battle of a pair of 5-0 franchises.
“It’s definitely going to be a battle,” said Pugh. “Two undefeated teams and neither one is ready for their first loss of the season. We’ll definitely need to feed off the positive energy from our fans.”
Game day tickets are $15. For more info on the SLAM, go to their official website.
Arch City Media will be at Saturday’s game and will have a full recap on Sunday.