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Force Tue Jul 14 2009

Forced Out

logo_force_white_medium.jpg(The Chicago Force fell short in their bid to return to the championship game in the Independent Women's Football League, falling 40-16 to the Kansas City Tribe. Force PR chief George Howe gives the sad details.)

KANSAS CITY - The Chicago Force post season travel odyssey and the 2009 campaign came to an end last Saturday night, falling to the Kansas City Tribe 40-16 in the Western Conference Championship game. After a successful first round win over the Majestics in Seattle Washington two weeks earlier, the Tribe denied the Force a second straight trip to the National Championship game.

Heart, emotion, and effort, although never questioned and certainly vital, can only carry a team so far. The Force just never seemed to get over the hump. A lack of execution, missed tackles, and not capitalizing on opportunities played a key role in this outcome.

The scoreless opening quarter was maneuvered like a chess match with each head coach choosing to call the plays from the sideline, calculating every move. Kansas City got on the scoreboard on their first drive of the second quarter when QB Jenny Schmidt found Rusty Sowers down the middle from the 19 yard line. Force defender Darlene 'Blue' Hall got a hand on the extra point try to make the score 6-0.

The Force put together their most impressive scoring drive starting at midfield late in the second quarter. An effective 14 play blend of run and pass led by tough, hard nosed QB Sami Grisafe marched the team downfield. Earning 6 first downs, none more important than RB Darcy Leslie's 12 yard burst on fourth and 2 that spotted the ball at the Tribe 8 yard line with time running out. Two plays later, a fake handoff by Grisafe to Leslie up the middle committed the Tribe defense. Grisafe rolled right and connected with WR Albi Zhubi who was wide open in the corner of the end zone for the score with 5 seconds left on the clock. Carolyn Lee's extra point gave the Force a 7-6 lead going into the locker room at halftime.

The Force took the third quarter kickoff and started the drive at the 40. Trish Harper, Candace Griffin, and Leslie took Grisafe handoffs with good up front blocking by the 'O' line grinded their way to the 12 where the drive stalled on fourth and 2 as the Tribe defense held. The next two Tribe possessions resulted in scores on breakdowns in the Force defense. With 3:42 to go in the third quarter, the Force got their final touchdown to pull to 20-14 on an 11 yard run by Leslie that was set up by a 12 yard reception from Grisafe to Martha Dantuma.

KC answered quickly on the next series, aided greatly by a questionable pass interference call, to go up 27-14. Despite several sustained drives, Chicago was unable to score in the final quarter. KC scored twice in the final minute when they returned an interception and a fumble recovery for TD's on consecutive Chicago possessions.

The defensive highlight of the game came from LB Kim Marks (who also had an interception) when she blocked a Tribe extra point try late in the game. The ball was picked up by Harper who ran 90 yards for 2 points. "The farther you go in the playoffs the more it hurts when you lose," explained a disappointed Head Coach John Konecki. "Everyone needs to hold their head high. We had a good season."

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