Boston Renegades Advance to Conference Championship
Kyle Wescott, MyW Sports Senior Writer1>
BOSTON — There are many great rivalries in sports. Some of the most famous rivalries include the Red Sox and Yankees, the Celtics and Lakers, and the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. More of the population may not know about the greatest rivalries in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), which includes the D.C Divas and the Boston Renegades.
Although Boston has gone through some name changes over the years, these two teams generally battle twice a year in the regular season, then once again in the playoffs. The two teams have met in the playoffs every year since 2009 with Boston moving on to win two WFA National Championships and D.C winning the 2015 and 2016 WFA National Championships.
In the last two years the games between D.C and Boston have been back and forth, epic battles, with the winner being decided on the last play on three different occasions. This past Saturday the two teams met again in the postseason and matched, if not surpassed the same level of excitement we’ve seen in the past.
The WFA Regional Finals were hosted by the Boston Renegades at OC Field at Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. The stands were full of fans representing both teams, including big player heads on a stick and noise makers. Pregame, Renegade star Linebacker Vicky Eddy was seen getting checked out by the trainer, but there was a sigh of relief in the crowd when she ran across the field to rejoin her team.
The Divas and the Renegades started the game as expected, trading defensive stops, then trading interceptions. Safi Mojidi picked off a pass from Allison Cahill, but on the next possession, Mocha Torres jumped the route and gave the ball back to the Renegades offense. At the end of the first quarter, the two teams were deadlocked in a scoreless defensive battle.
Both teams would put points on the scoreboard in the second quarter. Amanda Congialdi threw a deep bomb to Shaquanda Gainey to put the Divas in the red zone first. A couple plays later, Kentrina Wilson caught a ball over her defender to put the Divas up 7-0. The Renegades responded quickly with a 40 yard pass and catch to Adrienne Smith to tie the score up.
Following the touchdown, the Renegades attempted an onside kick, but the Divas return made the Renegades special teams pay and returned the ball to the 12 yard line. The Divas would add a field goal before the half and take a 10-7 lead. Boston threatened before the end of time, but on the final play Cahill threw the ball deep into the end zone to 5’3 rookie Wide Receiver Lauren Yung, but the pass went off her hands as time expired.
The Renegades tried an onside kick to start the second half, to no avail again. The teams exchanged defensive stops again in the third quarter and Mojidi had her second interception of the day. After the pick, the Divas started at their own 19. The Renegades defense pushed the Divas back to the one yard line on three plays and forced the Divas to punt from the back of the end zone. The kick traveled out of bounds at the Divas 17 and the Renegades took over with great field position. Cahill and the Renegades took advantage of the bad kick, scoring a touchdown on a pass to Emily Beinecke. The extra point was blocked, but at the end of the third quarter, the Renegades held a 13-10 advantage.
The Divas started the fourth quarter confident, like they knew they were on their way to winning their third straight national championship. The Divas picked apart the Boston defense with screen passes and great running and finished off the drive with a four yard run by Whitney Simms. The Divas regained the lead 17-10. On the kickoff, the ball bounced off a Renegade player and was recovered by the Divas at the Boston 33 yard line. Just a few short plays later, Dajah Scott caught a screen pass from Congialdi and ran her way to the end zone, extending the lead to 24-13 with about nine minutes left in the game.
The crowd fell silent following the Divas score. However on the field, the Renegades were not throwing in the towel. Boston drove the field and scored on a quarterback keeper by Cahill. Cahill then threw a successful two point conversion to Smith to cut the lead to 24-21 with 6:41 to play. The Divas made some gains on the next possession, but Allie Genereux forced a fumble with 2:22 remaining, giving the Renegades great field position down by three. Just nine seconds later, Cahill then found a wide open Chante Bonds for the go ahead score. The kicker missed the extra point that could’ve made it a 4 point game but Boston held a 27-24 lead with just over a minute left to play.
In 2016, the Divas trailed the Renegades in Boston and scored with 17 seconds left to move on to the next round. In 2017, the Renegades lead 26-22 and made a huge defensive stop on the final play to hang on for victory. With under two minutes left, the Divas began to drive the field, hitting Wilson over the middle, followed by a big run by Congialdi. As she had done just a minute before, Genereux recovered her second fumble and gave the ball back to the Renegades with 69 seconds to chew up. Boston put the ball in Whitney Zelee’s hands to waste out the clock and that’s what she did. Zelee ran for a first down that put the clock on the Renegades side. Cahill took three knees and took home the victory for Boston.
The Renegades move on to the National Conference Championship and will host the Chicago Force July 8th in Revere, Massachusetts. The Divas season ends with a record of 6-4. The bragging rights of the rivalry will stay in Boston for the rest of 2017, but the Divas have had a great season this year and will certainly continue to be a force in 2018.
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