Opening day was a feeding frenzy for the New York Sharks — the city’s professional women’s tackle football team — who chewed up the visiting Connecticut Wreckers 50–0 in the team’s first home game at Aviator Sports Complex last Saturday.
The shutout vindicated quarterback Karen “Mulli” Mulligan’s confidence in her team.
“We went down to Baltimore last week for some scrimmages with other teams and I think our team is well prepared,” said Mulligan. “I’m excited for our players.”
Shortly after former New York Liberty player Kym Hampton sang the National Anthem and performed the coin toss, Mulligan chummed the waters with a 10-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Maggie Natell who ran it in for the touchdown. It was not only the Sharks’ first touchdown of the season, but Natell’s first touchdown — ever.
“This was my first experience with football,” Natell said. “It was a short pass but I had to break a tackle to get into the end zone.”
Like many of her teammates, she grew up playing a variety of team sports, but the Sharks offered Natell her first opportunity to play tackle football.
After that, the Sharks’ defense matched the tone of the offense, and didn’t allow the Wreckers to get anything going.
The Sharks were up 16–0 in the first quarter with their first three possessions before the Wreckers had a chance to significantly move the ball. Wide receiver Rookie Alana Casner answered by scoring the second touchdown off a 39-yard pass from Mulligan.
In the second quarter, it was another pass to Casner for her second touchdown of the game, and a long pass to rookie wide receiver Brilynn Fields, who caught the ball on a six-yard pass, running 58 yards for another Sharks touchdown.
The Sharks had 36 points by the second half, which Mulligan started off with another touchdown pass to Casner.
“I had three passes and three touchdowns, totaling 107 yards,” said Casner. “It was exhilarating running into the end zone knowing that I scored — the first one being the best.”
The Wreckers did take advantage of some Sharks mistakes in the second half, gaining some momentum on yardage, but it never translated to scoring.
A touch pass to wide receiver and safety Krystal Molina and a 12-yard run by rookie running back Gina Pettigano closed out the scoring.
“I guess it paid off with the coaches teaching all pre-season,” said rookie outside linebacker Amber Terrell, who also got her first game experience on Saturday. “It felt great to tackle someone other than my teammate. The ball came my way often enough to get a lot of opportunities to show off what I’ve been taught.”
The Sharks’ second home game at Floyd Bennett Field at Aviator Sports Complex is April 26, at 7:30 pm against the Pittsburgh Passion.
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