(ST. LOUIS, MO) In their social media campaigns this past week, the St. Louis SLAM women’s professional tackle football franchise constructed a simple and direct narrative.
Saturday night at St. Mary’s High School, they maintained their chase with a dominant 41-0 victory over the Mile High Blaze in the WFA’s Tier II American Conference Championship game. The SLAM, winners of the Tier II title in 2016 and 2017, pushed their record to 10-0.
Idle last season, the SLAM have the opportunity to reclaim the trophy against Detroit Dark Angels (8-2) on Saturday, July 13 in Golden, Colorado.
“I’m so proud of our team,” said SLAM defensive back Keyonna Smith after Saturday’s shutout. “Our work pays off, no matter what. They have a ton of it in the gas tank and they do the work to put it in. They put a bunch of deposits into the bank so that when it’s time to withdraw on it, we’re ready to go.”
Those dividends paid off early thanks to triple threats. A three-touchdown lead at intermission was the direct result of a strong running game, a smart pass configuration and a defense that not only limited yards but also scored points to supplement.
After the SLAM defense stymied Denver on the game’s opening possession, St. Louis claimed the first touchdown via a five-play, 31-yard scoring drive finished by quarterback Jaime Gaal’s 14-yard pass to receiver Danielle Price with 9:45 left in the first quarter. Place kicker Danielle Thompson converted the PAT for the SLAM’s 7-0 lead.
The St. Louis defense, paced by Smith, Tiffany Pugh, Kaylee Neutzling, Raven Williams, Pamela Green, Jamie Skinner, Torii Davis, Kamilah Russell, Veronica Smith and a host of others, shutdown the Blaze on their second possession and forced them to punt.
“Our defense is our heart,” said Smith. “We set the tone for the game and we ride it off into the sunset.”
With the SLAM beginning their second drive on Denver’s 45, a solid effort pushed the ball downfield, but deep in the frame the penalties began to mount. Neutzling attempted a 47-yard field goal with 1:45 left but the kick fell less than a yard from the crossbar and the game’s differential remained at seven points.
Early in the second quarter, the Blaze capitalized on a SLAM fumble and started a drive at the St. Louis 19. Denver rallied their way into the red zone and eyed the equalizer. With a first and goal situation at the nine-yard line, Blaze quarterback Adrienne Tauaese’s pass attempt was picked off by Keyonna Smith at the four and the ninth-year defensive back romped 96-yards for the “pick six.”
“It’s one of those things that I’m hearing my coach in the back of my head to make sure I’m taking the right opportunities and taking the advantage of the things in front of me,” reflected Smith of the whirlwind. “I just went for it and made the best of it.”
Thompson’s converted PAT kick gave St. Louis a 14-0 edge with 11:49 left in the half.
Paced by the SLAM’s offensive line of Kim Kinsella, Tammie Moore, Caitlin Erickson, Marion Ball and Toni Washington, St. Louis pushed the lead to 21-0 with their three-play, 83-yard sprint that was highlighted by Taylor Hay’s 11-yard touchdown scamper with 5:18 left in the quarter.
In the early stages of the second half, the SLAM continued to hold the Blaze to minimal yardage and kept producing points when in possession. Neutzling made her first field goal of the evening, a 29-yarder with 6:18 left in the third quarter, which pushed the score to 24-0. The sixth-year starter later claimed a 42-yarder four minutes later that extended the lead to 27-0.
In the final quarter, the SLAM’s running game claimed a pair of scores. Candice Watkins notched an 18-yard touchdown at the 12:44 mark and with Thompson’s fourth PAT of the night, St. Louis pushed the score to 34-0.
Then five minutes later, Torii Davis claimed her first touchdown run of the season with a 14-yard burst. Thompson kept her season performance flawless (35-35) with the PAT conversion that made the score 41-0.
The SLAM secured the shutout at St. Mary’s and is focused to complete their overall quest in two weeks. Their opponent, Detroit Dark Angles, notched a 34-33 road overtime win at the WFA Tier II National Conference championship Saturday.
“We’re a team that highly values a positive mentality,” said Smith. “We’re just excited to get an opportunity to get another championship.”
And one would suspect that quest for a fourth title is well within reach.
For more information, go to the SLAM’s official website.
SLAM OFFENSIVE STATISTICS
PASSING: Gaal: 3-10, 41 YDS, `1 TD
RUSHING: Watkins: 10-140 1 TD, Hay 21-95 1 TD, Davis 2-29 1 TD, Price 2-13, Miller 1-12, Troupe 2-10, Vinson 2-9.
RECEIVING: Clay 1-16, Price 1-15 1 TD, Speckhals 1-110
KICKING: Thompson 5-5 PATs, Neutzling 2-3 FG (42, 29)