Home Editor's Picks Undefeated St. Louis SLAM Hosts Regular Season Finale Saturday

Undefeated St. Louis SLAM Hosts Regular Season Finale Saturday

Showdown With Minnesota Finds Locals Aiming To Collect Top Seed In WFA's Post-Season

by Brian Ledford

A very pivotal task faces the St. Louis SLAM at their final game of the regular season at home Saturday…and they are most-certainly up for the challenge.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

The SLAM – currently 5-0 and leaders of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) Pro American Conference – hosts long-time rivals Minnesota Vixen (4-1) at St. Mary’s High School (4701 S. Grand Blvd.)

Kickoff for the turf tussle is set for 7 p.m. General admission tickets on-site are $15 while children under 10 are free.

“Any time we play Minnesota, it’s an intense game,” said SLAM quarterback Jaime Gaal of the upcoming duel. “For years, we’ve been the top two teams in our conference. As far as Saturday goes, on one hand, it’s just another game. On the other hand, it will decide a lot.”

Primarily at stake is top seeding heading into the WFA Pro American conference semifinals that loom. St. Louis and Minnesota, currently ranked first and second respectively in the standings, will each attempt to snare home field advantage for the entire two-game playoff push that leads to the WFA’s Pro finale in Canton, Ohio in late-July.

A SLAM victory at St. Mary’s guarantees driver’s seat placement for potentially hosting two playoff games while a loss results in additional pressure while mathematics is being tabulated for post-season seeding.

St. Louis aims to continue their current stellar output, punctuated by their most-recent road win.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

The SLAM notched their fifth straight victory two weekends’ ago by topping Pro American compatriot Dallas Elite Mustangs 49-6 in Texas. (RECAP)

In the 43-point triumph, St. Louis posted 35 consecutive, first-half points thanks to numerous weapons.

Gaal pushed her WFA-leading touchdown pass total to 19 with four endzone strikes, two of which were claimed by receiver Kerri McMahan, who has grabbed 11 on the season.

Second-year starter Jada Humphrey collected three scores on the night – two via run combined with a touchdown reception – while receiver Sydney Bloch caught a solo snare for the rookie’s sixth.

Anchoring the offensive line were veterans Pamela Green, Tamikka Brents, Antonnia Washington Caitlin Erickson, Marion Ball and a host of others.

Heading into Saturday’s showdown against their rivals, the SLAM has posted five straight victories over the Vixen, although the most-recent one almost slipped away.

At the pair’s early-May showdown in Minnesota, St. Louis survived a 41-40 nailbiter against a Vixen team that really opened eyes for those that follow WFA Pro. (RECAP)

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

In that contest, Minnesota scored a touchdown with :40 remaining and trailed by a solo point. They gambled by going for a two-point conversion afterwards in hopes of netting a come-from-behind upset victory…but was unsuccessful.

Without a doubt, the SLAM remembers that squeaker held during WFA Week 2 and has adjusted overall as their season has progressed.

“The first Minnesota game this year was our first true test,” recalled Gaal. “We succeeded, but barely. Since then, the defense has gotten a chance to (become) better. The offense has had time to put in more plays. Overall, I think we’re making good progress towards hitting our peak.”

The SLAM effectively staying cool-tempered while facing numerous obstacles has been instrumental their wins were accumulated.

“The energy and aura that we’ve had this year has been amazing, something we haven’t had in recent year,” reflected Gaal. “It’s what I’m most proud of so far this season.”

Since May’s scramble, WFA Pro-leading  offensive stats have been comparably posted by both. Currently, the SLAM ranks third offensively (46.4 PPG) while the Vixen sits one position higher (50.2 PPG).

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

One edge St. Louis holds between the tandem is team overall defense.

With solid work by Myah LeFlore, Mary Altepeter, Raven Williams, Alisha Straws, Tay Johnson, Jamie Skinner, Kinnaudy Daniels, Ciara Morgan, Stephanie Moore, Kaylee Neutzling, Maddie Embree and a host of others, the SLAM’s defense ranks second overall in WFA Pro (15.2 PPG) while the Vixen is currently seventh (26.2 PPG).

Compared to earlier this season, projecting a similar shootout between the pair Saturday is difficult.

“As the quarterback, I always hope it’s a shootout on my end,” said Gaal. “But on the other side, I know that our defense wasn’t happy with how many points they gave up (then). I know they’ll be extremely focused and execute their game plan much better this time around.”

The “D” have to be as the opponent looks to play spoiler at the SLAM’s home finale.

Minnesota have collected four straight wins by outscoring their opponents 195-64. This has included two shutouts, punctuated by their 34-0 victory over WFA Division 2 rep Nebraska Pride two weekends’ ago. Within the span, a monumental first-time victory over WFA Pro National powerhouse D.C. Divas  (42-34) was also recorded.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

Heading in, Vixen veteran quarterback Erin Kelley has 11 touchdowns thrown while receiver Jackie Radford has seven endzone claims.

The running game has also been solid as newcomer Johanna Vermöhlen’s six romps leads the squad, supplemented by Sarah Rosche’s five.

Defensively, Sam Barber, Caitlin Hill, Jocelyn Tanner, Britta Clark and Emily Sampson lead the charge that will also look to lower St. Louis’ offensive numbers.

Overall, the Vixen are a very-balanced team, and the SLAM expects them to put up a hard fight.

“Minnesota has always been the best competition in our conference,” assessed Gaal. “And since we usually have to play them three times each year, I don’t think there are too many unknowns. We know what they’re capable of. We just have to execute our game plan and perform at the level that we know we’re capable of.”

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

Staying in-stride with prior meetings, the SLAM/Vixen game should be a fun one Saturday night. The locals would appreciate followers to fill the stands to cheer them on to finish the regular season undefeated and snare the WFA Pro American’s top seed.

“Our fans have been AMAZING this year!” said Gaal. “We appreciate their support so much. Our recurring fans know how much this game means and how exciting it should be. If you love sports, if you love women’s sports, if you love football – you will not be disappointed.”

If one cannot make the event in person, it can be seen online at Live Stream STL (LINK)

For more information on the SLAM, go to their official website.

Arch City Media will have a full recap posted on Sunday.

By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.

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