Girls flag football season shrinks to just four games


Ezra Fax

READY: Sophomore Bailey Mendelson and senior Michelle Greenberg prepare to face the Harkham Gaon flag football in one of the two games against them this year.

By Tobey Lee, Staff Writer

The girls flag football team has played a mere four games in their three-month season this fall. The team usually plays seven or eight games in a season, but this year, challenges ranging from other teams’ cancellations to the timing of the High Holidays have limited game opportunities.

In particular, the dates of Sukkot meant they had to miss the annual Loma Linda tournament, which was held the weekend of Oct 21. They normally play three or four games at the Loma Linda Tournament, a majority of their season.

Players say the lack of games has made it harder to win the ones they actually had.

“We’re a little rusty every time we go out, and in practice our coaches try to put us in game-like situations time,” said sophomore wide-receiver Talia Gill, “but it really hasn’t been so successful.”

The team lost to LA Adventist 6-0 twice and beat Harkham Gaon twice. According to sophomore Bailey Mendelson, there are currently no more games scheduled.

Talia said the lack of games is also due to the fact that the team is not part of an organized league.  That’s because most leagues play on Shabbat, and there aren’t many girls flag football teams in the area to begin with.

“We would have to travel two-plus hours to every game, so that wasn’t plausible,” said Talia. “Because of that we organize games with teams like in our proximity that we can play.”

They also lost the opportunity to play the YULA Panthers. A game between the two crosstown rivals had been scheduled for LACES on Nov. 3, but the Panthers were forced to cancel because they were unable to form a team.

Linebacker and co-captain Rayna Wasserman said that game would have been a highlight of the year.

“It’s definitely disappointing,” said Rayna. “It’s a game we look forward to all season because most of the girls on our team are friends with them. They’re in our community, so it’s fun playing against them.”

Last year, the Firehawks defeated the Panthers for at least the fourth year in a row.  The score was 20-2.

Sophomore cornerback Talia Abel thought they would have won again.

“I think we could have [won], because we do have a streak against them,” said Talia.

Attempts to reach YULA’s athletic director were unsuccessful.

Shalhevet’s team is led this year by coaches David Ouaknine and Tommy Cannon, who took over two years ago after the departure of founding coach Mr. Christopher Buckley.

Coach Cannon said aside from the scheduling problem with Loma Linda, schools who are normally good competition for the girls declined invites from Athletic Director Ryan Coleman to coordinate a game.

“Despite Ryan really stepping up and making a really concerted effort, it just hasn’t been a great response from the schools that we normally play or the one’s that we’ve reached out to from previous seasons,” said Coach Cannon. “Schools are just not responding and/or not having a team readily available to play us.”

Additionally, the Loma Linda tournament affects the girls’ flag football team more than the boys’ team. For the boys, it is a nice addition to a 10-11 game season, but for the girls, it constitutes the majority of their games.

In its four games —two wins and two loses— the Firehawks’ defense played well throughout the season.

Freshman Maital Hiller has had seven interceptions, including one that sent the LA Adventist game into overtime. Sophomore Bailey Mendelson has led the team with a difference-making 10 sacks.

Bailey attributed her success to the entire defensive line’s effort.

“It’s not only me,” said Bailey. “It’s also the rest of the defensive team. We all work together to get these sacks.”

Even though the offense did not produce in the first two games, they improved in the last two games, getting the needed two victories against Harkham Gaon.

Running back Nicole Miles scored three touchdowns and Maital Hiller scored five touchdowns in the two games, while cornerback Talia Abel and Michaela Somekh added two defensive touchdowns.

Players and coaches say this year’s season has been a positive experience.

Maital said she loves the positivity and energy throughout the team.

“Each practice and game are very enjoyable, and I am looking forward to having a lot of fun throughout the rest of the season,” said Maital.

Coach Cannon said that he is proud of the girls for their hard work throughout the season.

“It’s been great,” said Coach Cannon. “It’s been something that I wouldn’t turn down for anything. I enjoy the time I get to spend with these young ladies, mature not just as players, but as young ladies.”