Despite the fictional support of fictional Mortal Kombat characters, as much as it pains me to say it, Team Fire emerged victorious over Team Ice 28-20 in an enthralling finish to the inaugural Gridiron Victoria Women’s All Star Game this past Friday night.
In front of a capacity crowd at the State Netball & Hockey Centre in Parkville, the best of the best from around GV put on a quality spectacle that only served to enhance the already growing reputation of the women’s game in Australia. In a hard-fought but good-natured contest, the margin never got above a touchdown throughout the entire game, highlighting the level of competition between the two evenly-matched squads.
Team Fire were the first to open the scoring for the evening, on a beautifully executed 1st quarter drive from League MVP Quarterback Steph Pulis-Cassar, resulting in a 15 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Paige Farrell. Not to be outdone, Team Ice immediately responded with a methodical scoring drive of their own, on the back of a physical running game led by fullback Molly Branson. After a long offensive series that took the game deep into the second quarter, Ice QB Madeleine Kop found Jordan Di Mizio on a slant route for the game tying touchdown. The teams then went into half time with the scores locked at 8-8.
In the 3rd quarter, Team Ice continued to employ a ground heavy attack on offence, and thanks to some quality work in the trenches from the Ice offensive line, Branson was able to find the endzone to give the Ice a 14-8 lead. As expected though, the Fire came roaring back. Runningback Alyssa Stewart started to find some creases in the Ice front 7 on several big runs, with this hard work being capped off with another Paige Farrell TD, tying the game up once more at 14-14.
Team Ice started with the ball to open the final quarter, and in the middle of the ensuing drive the Fire’s defence was able to come up with a huge play, with Fire defender Gabby Weldon pouncing on a fumble and taking it into the endzone for a touchdown and a 20-14 lead. The Ice Offence found a way to respond however, and on the back of some solid running from RB Larnie Gubatanga and WB Kendall Nibbs, found themselves inside the 5 yard line and in position to once again tie the game. Despite some tough Fire defense, Kop was able to score on a quarterback sneak to make it a 20-20 ball game.
With time running out, the Ice defence, led by Di Mizio (who played both offence and defence in a great effort) and linebacker Erin Gubatanga were able to stop the Fire on the following drive and give the Ice one last chance to take the lead on offence. The Fire’s defence had other ideas however, and came up with another huge scoring play, courtesy of a great interception from linebacker Stina Johannsen, which she returned for a touchdown and a 28-20 Fire lead. This ended up being enough for Team Fire to take home a well-earned victory in what was a scintillating game of football.
Check out photos from the game
Thanks to all who showed up on Friday night to support the women’s game. It was a great spectacle, and hopefully something that we can develop for the Juniors and Senior Men’s as well.