Bye Week Provides Needed Breather for Divas

Washington, DC – It’s a perfect time for a bye week.

The D.C. Divas battled the Boston Militia down to the final minute but were ultimately bested by their archrivals, 36-32, on Saturday.  Divas head coach Alison Fischer acknowledged that the travel, the rivalry, and the level of play from Boston meant that her team could already stand to have some extra time to regroup.

“It’s a tough way to open the season.  It’s like having a playoff game in Week 1,” Fischer admitted.  “It’s a very physical battle every time we play Boston, and this time was no different.  That’s why it’s good that we have the bye week right now.  We’ve got some folks who need to heal over the next two weeks, and we have some players who could use a little more prep time.”

Although the Divas came within a whisker of handing Boston their first home loss in five years, Coach Fischer believes that her team can play much better.  “There were some positives for us that came out of Saturday’s game, but there were a lot of mistakes we made, too.  We shot ourselves in the foot several times.  We feel like all of that can be corrected, but it’s going to take a lot of work.”

In particular, the D.C. defense had a much improved showing.  After surrendering 81 points in their last regular season trip to Boston, this year’s defense only yielded 36 points.  “The defense has definitely come along.  [Defensive coordinator] Coach Bennett has done a great job, and we have some rookies and some youth playing on defense that have made a big difference,” Coach Fischer noted.  “We’re not quite there yet.  The effort was good, and when we were in the right place, we did really well.  It’s a matter of fine-tuning a few things and fixing some of the mistakes we made.”

D’Ajah Scott electrified the Divas sideline with two kickoff returns for touchdowns.  “We feel pretty good about our special teams,” Fischer said.  “Again, we have some work to do on them, but we have a lot of people that if they can touch the ball, they can take it to the house.  We feel we’re pretty dangerous in that respect.”

Not to be outdone, Kentrina Wilson also notched two touchdowns in her D.C. Divas debut.  With Boston’s secondary understandably blanketing Ashley Whisonant’s every move, Wilson got free for two touchdown receptions.  “She’s a big target.  She’s got great hands,” Fischer said of Wilson.  “She catches the ball up high, and she really uses her body well.  She had a couple of very good catches and a pretty spectacular run after the catch on one of her touchdowns.”

The Divas now have a much-needed break to prepare for their home opener on April 19.  The Chicago Force will arrive in D.C. for their first ever meeting with the Divas, and it stands to be one of the most anticipated women’s football games ever played in the nation’s capital.  Chicago, the defending national champion, defeated the Detroit Dark Angels in the season opener, 70-0, proving that it’s more than ready to defend its title.

“It’s really tough to have Chicago for the second game,” Fischer conceded.  “They’re the national champions for good reason.  They have a very explosive offense and a defense that complements that.  We expect to see the same things from them this year that they did to win the national championship last season.”

Get your tickets today to see the D.C. Divas make their home debut Saturday, April 19, against the reigning national champion Chicago Force.  Kickoff will be at 6 PM.

Around the WFA – Fresh off of a 70-0 road victory over Detroit, the Chicago Force play their home opener this weekend before heading to DC.  They will face the Indy Crash, who had a bye last week and will make their season debut in Chicago…The Cleveland Fusion won their ninth straight regular season contest Saturday, downing the Columbus Comets, 20-6…The Tampa Bay Inferno started their season with an impressive, hard-fought road victory over the Atlanta Phoenix, 32-25…The Jacksonville Dixie Blues (62-0 over the Daytona Breakers) and Miami Fury (56-0 over the Orlando Anarchy) both secured convincing victories to start their seasons.  The Fury host Jacksonville Saturday night in this weekend’s most compelling contest…The Tulsa Threat travel to play the Kansas City Titans this weekend in the season debut for both teams…On the west coast, the battle for Portland takes center stage, as the Portland Fighting Fillies host the Portland Shockwave.

D.C. Divas Kick Off 2014 Season in Boston

Washington, DC – For the 2014 D.C. Divas, the new season begins where the last one ended.

The D.C. Divas open their 14th season of women’s football Saturday by traveling to Boston to take on their archrivals, the Boston Militia.  The Militia eliminated the Divas from the playoffs in Boston last season, and they will provide the Divas’ first test after a long, frigid offseason.

“We’ve had a good preseason,” Divas head coach Alison Fischer said.  “The weather didn’t want to cooperate with us at all this year, so we were inside a lot more than we would have preferred.  But you do what you’ve got to do, and we made the most of it.”

The biggest change for the Divas this season is with the coaching staff.  Offensive coordinator Eric Evans and defensive coordinator Keith Kahan left the team this offseason, and Rick Allison and Willie Bennett were hired as the Divas’ new offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively.

“You’re always going to have a transition when you bring in new coordinators, but I think it has gone pretty smoothly,” Fischer said.  “Our veteran players pick up on things really quickly, and the rookies take some time to get up to speed anyway.”

The Divas hope that everyone has gotten up to speed quickly, because the powerful Militia offense awaits them.  Last year’s regular season matchup in Boston between these two teams resulted in an 81-54 Militia victory, the highest-scoring game in women’s football history and one that broke numerous franchise records.  Both teams will be hoping for a better defensive performance this time around.

“I don’t think either of us were happy about the points given up by our defenses.  You want the offense to click like that, but the defense is going to have to get some stops,” Coach Fischer remarked.

For the Divas, that means finding some way to slow down the remarkable Whitney Zelee, who shattered every imaginable record in women’s football history by rushing for an astonishing 2,326 yards in 11 games last season.  Coach Fischer observed, “She’s a great back, obviously, and all their offensive players work well together.  I don’t think they’re going to change much this season.  It’s working now, so until it stops working, we expect to see more of the same.”

The D.C. Divas, ranked #3 in the preseason women’s football rankings, will face a brutal challenge right out of the gate from the second-ranked Militia.  Boston is 23-1 all-time at home in the regular season, with their only regular season home loss coming against the New York Sharks, 25-24, on May 10, 2008.  Two weeks after playing against the #2 Boston Militia, the #3 Divas will open their home schedule against the reigning WFA champion and #1-ranked Chicago Force.

Coach Alison Fischer and the D.C. Divas organization wouldn’t want it any other way.

“Starting out the season with an away game in Boston is extremely tough, but that’s exactly what we want,” she said.  “We love those challenges.  We live for these games.  That’s why we’re in this league, because we want to play that caliber of teams.”

“We’re excited to play Boston again.  It’s a great team for us to play to see what we’re made of, and it’s always a great game.”

Around the WFA – The Women’s Football Alliance brings women’s football fans another season of great gridiron action starting this weekend, with a full slate of 20 games scheduled for April 5…The first weekend of WFA games features several exciting regional rivalries.  The champion Chicago Force travel to Detroit to play the Dark Angels, while one of the Pacific Northwest’s best rivalries resumes when the Portland Shockwave host the Seattle Majestics…The Divas share a division this year with the Central Maryland Seahawks and Columbus Comets.  The Comets open their 2014 campaign on the road against the Cleveland Fusion, a team that had a breakout 8-0 regular season in 2013…The Atlanta Phoenix have compiled a 15-1 regular season record in their last two seasons.  Their only loss was a 26-25 defeat in 2012 to the Tampa Bay Inferno; Atlanta hosts Tampa Bay Saturday…The Las Vegas Showgirlz, fresh off of two dominant preseason victories (including a 74-38 blowout of the IWFL’s Utah Jynx), visit the San Diego Surge in a matchup between West Coast powerhouses.

2014 WFA Week 1 Preview

The Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) will bring women’s football fans another great season of gridiron action starting this weekend, with a full slate of 20 games scheduled for April 5. The opening weekend in the WFA features several exciting regional rivalries. Here are a few of the key matchups.

2014 WFA Week 1 Preview (April 5)

  • D.C. Divas @ Boston Militia – The Divas and Militia have met in the playoffs each of the last five seasons, a women’s football record that has fueled a heated rivalry between these two squads. Last year’s regular season matchup in Boston between these two teams resulted in an 81-54 victory for the Militia, the highest-scoring game in women’s football history.
  • Chicago Force @ Detroit Dark Angels – The reigning WFA champion Chicago Force begin their national championship defense in Detroit against the Dark Angels. The Dark Angels, who went 8-0 in the regular season in 2012, hope to return to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
  • Las Vegas Showgirlz @ San Diego Surge – The Las Vegas Showgirlz, fresh off of two dominant preseason victories, visit the San Diego Surge in a matchup between West Coast powerhouses. San Diego, the 2012 WFA champions, defeated Las Vegas in a competitive regular season meeting last year, 32-22, before later eliminating the Showgirlz from the 2013 WFA playoffs.
  • Seattle Majestics @ Portland Shockwave – One of the Pacific Northwest’s premier rivalries resumes when the Portland Shockwave host the Seattle Majestics. This will be the 30th meeting all-time between the Majestics and the Shockwave, with Seattle holding a 21-8 advantage in the series.
  • Tampa Bay Inferno @ Atlanta Phoenix – The Atlanta Phoenix, champions of the WFA’s southeast region in 2013, have established themselves as a regional powerhouse. Over the last two regular seasons, Atlanta has compiled a 15-1 record. Their only loss was a 26-25 defeat in 2012 at the hands of the Tampa Bay Inferno, who will attempt to repeat the feat on Saturday.
  • Columbus Comets @ Cleveland Fusion – These two franchises will bring 25 combined years of women’s football experience to the field as they kick off their seasons this weekend. Columbus made their first playoff appearance last season since advancing to the WFA national championship game in 2010. Cleveland, meanwhile, outscored their opponents, 362-18, en route to a perfect 8-0 regular season in 2013.
  • Nevada Storm @ Central Cal War Angels – The Nevada Storm make their WFA debut in 2014 after three seasons playing in other leagues. They’ll take on the Central Cal War Angels, who advanced to the American Conference championship game last season for the first time in franchise history.
  • Cincinnati Sizzle @ West Michigan Mayhem – Cincinnati capped a triumphant 2013 season with their first playoff appearance in franchise history. The Sizzle will try to start their journey to return to the postseason by securing a road victory over the West Michigan Mayhem. The Mayhem have accrued 75 victories in franchise history, ranking them eighth in all-time wins among current women’s football franchises.
  • Toledo Reign @ Derby City Dynamite – Since their founding in 2012, the Derby City Dynamite have made the Toledo Reign one of their fiercest rivals. Despite going 3-5 in 2013, Derby City ended the year on a positive note with three straight victories, including a 14-0 win over rival Toledo. The Reign begin their 11th season hoping to make their second playoff appearance in three years after qualifying for a wild card game in 2012.
  • Austin Outlaws @ Houston Power – The battle for the Lone Star State in the WFA in 2014 will come down to this rivalry. Austin and Houston have had several competitive battles over the last four years, splitting the eight games between them to give both teams a 4-4 record in the series since 2010.
  • Tacoma Trauma @ Everett Reign – The Everett Reign will be using this weekend’s home opener against the Tacoma Trauma to honor the victims of the tragic Oso mudslide and their families. The team will donate a portion of the game’s ticket sales to relief efforts and will collect additional donations at the game. Both teams will observe a moment of silence before the contest in the memory of those who lost their lives.

2014 WFA Week 1 Schedule (April 5)

The full 2014 WFA Week 1 schedule:

D.C. Divas @ Boston Militia

Chicago Force @ Detroit Dark Angels

Las Vegas Showgirlz @ San Diego Surge

Seattle Majestics @ Portland Shockwave

Tampa Bay Inferno @ Atlanta Phoenix

Columbus Comets @ Cleveland Fusion

Nevada Storm @ Central Cal War Angels

Cincinnati Sizzle @ West Michigan Mayhem

Toledo Reign @ Derby City Dynamite

Austin Outlaws @ Houston Power

Tacoma Trauma @ Everett Reign

Orlando Anarchy @ Miami Fury

Daytona Breakers @ Jacksonville Dixie Blues

Acadiana Zydeco @ Louisiana Jazz

Minnesota Machine @ Nebraska Stampede

Utah Blitz @ Portland Fighting Fillies

Tennessee Train @ Savannah Sabers

West Coast Lightning @ Arizona Assassins

Kansas City Titans @ Iowa Steamrollers

Baltimore Burn (WSFL) @ Pittsburgh Force

 

2014 Kickoff Party

The D.C. Divas’ 14th season is truly something to celebrate.  With the season about to get underway, the team is holding a kickoff party this weekend as they embark on their 2014 season!

The kickoff party will be held at Union Jack’s in Columbia, Maryland, on Saturday, March 29, from 7-10 PM.  It will be a great chance for fans to enjoy games and appetizers while meeting the 2014 D.C. Divas!

The Divas will be holding a raffle and a silent auction all through the night, and at 9 PM, these multi-talented players will be putting on a talent show.  After 10 PM, the DJ and dance floor will open up at Union Jack’s for an after-party!  Come out and meet your favorite women’s football players…and help us kick off our 2014 season in style!

Where: Union Jack’s in Columbia, Maryland (10400 Little Patuxent Pkwy)

When: Saturday, March 29, from 7 PM to 10 PM

Cover: $10

 

D.C. Divas Announce 2014 Schedule

Washington, DC – The D.C. Divas announced their 2014 schedule today, and their home slate may be the most challenging in the team’s 14-year history.

The Divas open their home schedule in April 19 with a contest against the Chicago Force.  As reigning WFA national champions, the Force are #1 in pre-season rankings. The D.C. Divas rank second among active women’s football franchises with 93 victories, while the Chicago Force are in third place with 91. The Divas’ home opener will be the first meeting between these two historic franchises, putting on what should be a terrific show for local fans.

On April 26, the Divas host their division rivals, the Columbus Comets. The Comets always give the Divas a hard-fought, physical game, and the 2014 meeting of these two teams should be no different.

The Divas play their third home game on May 17 with their first-ever meeting against the Atlanta Phoenix. The Phoenix won the WFA’s southeast region in 2013, advancing to the National Conference semifinals. In two seasons, the Atlanta Phoenix have compiled a 15-1 regular season record, establishing themselves as arguably the top women’s football team in the southeastern United States.

Finally, the Divas will close out their season at home on June 7 by once again staring down their archrivals, the Boston Militia. The Militia are #2 in preseason rankings while the Divas are ranked #3, a sure sign that this will be an exciting game in a terrific rivalry.

Season tickets for the D.C. Divas’ 2014 campaign are now available for purchase online. Season tickets are only available before the first home game on April 19, so don’t delay in getting the discount they provide.

D.C. Divas 2014 Schedule

April 5 – @Boston Militia

April 19 – Chicago Force

April 26 – Columbus Comets

May 3 – @Baltimore Burn

May 17 – Atlanta Phoenix

May 31 – @Central Maryland Seahawks

June 7 – Boston Militia

June 14 – National Conference Wild Card Round

June 21 – National Conference Quarterfinal Round

July 5 – National Conference Semifinal Round

July 19 – National Conference Championship Game

August 2 – WFA National Championship Game

2013 Season Recap

Despite finishing the 2013 season with a 6-4 record, the DC Divas once again proved to be one of the best teams in women’s football. The Divas finished fourth in the final WFA power rankings, which ranked the league champion Chicago Force at #1. The Boston Militia claimed the #2 spot, while the Divas’ division rivals, the Pittsburgh Passion, narrowly edged DC for the #3 position. The Divas took fourth, easily coming in ahead of the Western Conference champion Dallas Diamonds, who placed fifth.

With their #4 finish, the Divas have been ranked among the top five teams in the sport in each of the last five seasons. Remarkably, the Divas have finished in every position in the top five over that span: #1 in 2009, #2 in 2011, #3 in 2010, #4 this year, and #5 the season before. DC has also finished in the top five of the final league power rankings ten of the last 11 years, showing a consistent run of success among the elite in women’s football.

DC Divas Final Power Rankings, 2003-2013:
2003 – #4
2004 – #4
2005 – #3
2006 – #1
2007 – #2
2008 – #7
2009 – #1
2010 – #3
2011 – #2
2012 – #5
2013 – #4

The Divas’ strength of schedule was ranked as the #2 most difficult in the sport, breaking a streak of three consecutive years in which the Divas played the toughest schedule in women’s football. The Divas’ 2013 schedule was narrowly placed in the #2 spot behind the Boston Militia, who faced the Divas three times this season. Still, the Divas have maintained the #1 or #2 toughest schedule in the sport for each of the last five years dating back to 2009, when their strength of schedule was ranked #2 behind the Detroit Demolition.

Unit Rankings

The DC Divas’ offense was ranked third in the WFA in 2013. This marks the sixth time in the last eight years that the Divas have featured one of the top three offenses in the sport. DC averaged 42.8 points per game and showed remarkable consistency, topping the 40 point mark in seven of their ten contests. The Divas scored 61 touchdowns and gained over 4,000 yards of offense against some of the stiffest competition in the league.

Despite surrendering 32 points per game, the Divas’ defense was still ranked sixth in the league. This marks the ninth consecutive season that the Divas’ D has placed sixth in the sport or better.

DC Divas Offensive and Defensive Power Rankings, 2005-2013:
2005 – Offense: #7, Defense: #1
2006 – Offense: #1, Defense: #1
2007 – Offense: #2, Defense: #5
2008 – Offense: #6, Defense: #4
2009 – Offense: #2, Defense: #1
2010 – Offense: #2, Defense: #6
2011 – Offense: #3, Defense: #2
2012 – Offense: #5, Defense: #4
2013 – Offense: #3, Defense: #6

Individual Rankings – Offense

Individually, several Divas ranked among the league leaders in major statistical categories. Quarterback Allyson Hamlin ranked fourth in the WFA with 1,924 passing yards (placing behind Sami Grisafe of Chicago, Chantel Niino-Wiggins of the Central Cal War Angels, and Lisa Horton of Pittsburgh). Hamlin also ranked fifth in the league with 25 passing touchdowns, behind Grisafe, Niino-Wiggins, Horton, and Jenny Schmidt of the Kansas City Titans.

Kenyetta Grigsby again established herself as one of the top rushers in women’s football. Even though she missed two full games and the majority of a third, Grigsby still ranked second in the league in rushing (behind Boston’s Whitney Zelee) with 1,408 rushing yards. Grigsby also placed fifth in the WFA with 23 rushing touchdowns (behind Zelee, Launa Sims of the Atlanta Phoenix, Rachel Gore of the Seattle Majestics, and Niino-Wiggins).

Donna Wilkinson, playing her 13th season with the Divas, was second on the team in rushing with 343 yards. Ellise Pittman gave the team a third 100-yard rusher on the season with exactly 100 yards on the ground. Stacy Bruce chipped in 77 rushing yards, all in two key games late in the season – the division-clinching victory over Columbus and the playoff victory over the Comets two weeks later.

Despite missing three regular season games due to work commitments as an Alexandria, Virginia, firefighter, Ashley Whisonant compiled some impressive numbers that ranked her among the best wide receivers in the sport. Whisonant ranked sixth in the WFA with 774 receiving yards after Jeannette Gray, Ashley Berggren, and Brandy Hatcher, all of Chicago; Rachel Wojdowski of Pittsburgh; and Jamie Fornal of Central Cal. In just seven games, Whisonant collected 13 receiving touchdowns, fifth-best in the league behind Gray, Wojdowski, Fornal, and Berggren.

Whisonant was ably supported by Juliette Baker-Brice and Kasee Hilliard. Baker-Brice compiled 458 receiving yards and five touchdowns to rank second on the team, while Hilliard was close behind with 345 receiving yards and four touchdowns on the season. Melissa Mitchell and Lakia Barber made an impact catching the football in several games as well.

Individual Rankings – Defense

Defensively, the only player to rank in the top ten in any league-wide category was Callie Brownson, whose five interceptions on the season placed her ninth in the WFA. Devon Goldsmith snared three interceptions in the 2013 season, while Eleni Kotsis and Trigger McNair each grabbed two.

McNair led the Divas’ defense by a wide margin in total tackles with 65. Goldsmith added 36, while Kotsis made 33.5. Brownson placed fourth on the team in tackles with 32, and three players – Melissa Washington, D’Ajah Scott, and Jimmien Strong – were all credited with 27 tackles in the 2013 season.

Strong paced the squad with 8.5 tackles for loss, while Missy Bedwell ranked second on the Divas with five. Washington and Cherre Marshall were both credited with four tackles for loss, and McNair had three. Melissa Washington led the team with three sacks, and her two forced fumbles tied Alicia Hopkins for the team lead in that category as well. Hopkins also led the Divas with three fumble recoveries, all of which she claimed in a single game against the Central Maryland Seahawks.