After claiming victory in their return to the turf after a 30-month layoff this past weekend, the St. Louis SLAM women’s tackle football franchise aims for another road triumph.
The SLAM (1-0) faces the Minnesota Vixen (1-0) Saturday at Kuhlman Field in Enida, MN with a 6 pm kickoff. Live, free coverage online can be found here.
The battle of unbeatens will be closely watched by those following the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) as the pair are currently in a three-way tie with the Arlington Impact (1-0) for the top spot of the WFA Pro American Division.
St. Louis took their first snaps since July 2019 in last Saturday’s 14-6 road win over the Columbus Chaos. (RECAP HERE). Holding a 7-0 edge heading into the fourth quarter, the SLAM secured the winning differential with nine minutes left.
The SLAM veterans were looking to return to form that night. It had been a long, patient wait.
“It felt strange and amazing at the same time,” reflected SLAM quarterback Jaime Gaal of the team’s reappearance. “Strange just because it had been almost three years since our last game, and amazing to be back out there again!”
Long-tenured running back Taylor Hay carried the ball 36 times for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Gaal finished the night completing 13 passes for 85 yards.
But perhaps the best narrative of the night was the stubborn SLAM defense, which held the Chaos to minimum yardage and only gave up points with under four minutes remaining.
“Saturday was a complete team win,” said Gaal. “The defense was extremely aggressive and the offense worked well as a cohesive unit, especially in the run game.”
The defensive unit included veterans Raven Williams, Keyonna Smith, Pamela Green, Danielle Price, Kaylee Knuetzling and Jamie Skinner alongside newcomers Myah LeFlore, Alisha Straws, Ariana Smith, Jasmine Yandell, Kelsie Nesbit and Tay Johnson.
Gaal readily admits to the impact the SLAM additions made in their respective debuts.
“The rookies were huge contributors to Saturday’s win,” Gaal said. “It’s no secret that our roster is one of the smaller ones in the Pro division and that means that our rookies are going to play – a lot. They did great, I’m so proud of them.”
And although the Chaos, who were playing in their inaugural WFA game, gave St. Louis a mighty fight, this weekend’s opponent is planning to position themselves at the top of WFA Pro American standing and prove to many that their trip to last year’s national championship is not just a one-off affair.
Minnesota Vixen charged hard out of the gates last Saturday and romped to a 55-0 season opening home win over the Iowa Phoenix. In fairness, Iowa is currently stationed in WFA Division 3, earmarked for teams from smaller geographical regions, so the overwhelming differential was expected given the complexion of the teams.
But what can’t be denied is that the Vixen have the leadership, talent and moxie to make another dent in WFA Pro. In groundbreaking fashion, they played in the 2021 WFA Pro Championship game against the Boston Renegades and look for continued momentum in 2022.
And even though they haven’t played against each other since 2019, the SLAM and Vixen are arguably Midwestern arch rivals.
St. Louis has won all three meetings with Minnesota, which includes a pair of victories during the SLAM’s undefeated 2019 season.
Gaal fully knows that the Vixen wants to snap that streak Saturday.
“Whenever we play Minnesota, it’s a tough game and we don’t expect that to change,” said the quarterback.
The SLAM’s home opener takes place April 30 against the Derby City Dynamite at St. Mary’s High School. Get tickets are their official website.
Arch City Media will have a recap of the game posted late Saturday night.
By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is an announcer and digital content producer for St. Louis-based Arch Rival Roller Derby. Also a webcast announcer for post-season roller derby tournaments on wftda.tv. Yep, this Illinoisan primarily writes about derby, covering Arch Rival, the St. Chux Derby Chix and the STL GateKeepers men's league. He also writes about St. Louis SLAM Women's Football, St. Louis Lions women's soccer and other sports topics.