The Pittsburgh Passion extended their winning streak to 20 games and got one step closer to defending their IWFL Championship by clinching a berth in the IWFL Eastern Conference Championship with a 35-28 victory over the New York Sharks on Saturday.
The Passion [9-0] had their toughest test of the season with the Sharks [6-3]. The Sharks also gave the Passion their only tough game in the regular season, when the Passion escaped New York with a 21-14 victory on May 30.
The Passion built up a 28-13 lead in the first half thanks to two Lisa Horton-to-Rachel Wojdowski touchdown passes, a an Olivia Griswold score on special teams, when she scooped up a blocked punt and returned it for a TD and a Horton 1-yard quarterback keeper.
The third quarter was all New York and the Sharks eventually tied the game at 28 in the fourth quarter when quarterback Karen Mulligan found receiver Erika Cottle, who caught the short pass and took it 73 yards to the endzone.
With Horton on the sidelines with an injury, the Passion had to lean heavily on running back Tara Catone. Catone responded with 129 yards on 24 carries and had a crucial 46-yard screen pass to get the Passion down to 1-yard line with just minutes to play.
Three plays later, Catone then took it to the house for 1-yard touchdown to give the Passion a decisive 35-28 lead.
The Passion will play host to the Carolina Phoenix in the Eastern Conference Championship on July 11. Instead of the usual venue – George K. Cupples Stadium on Pittsburgh’s South Side – the Passion will host the Phoenix at Mansion Park in Altoona, Pa. Kickoff for that game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Photo credit: Jeffrey Gamza