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Arts, Sports & Culture

Pittsburgh Passion Take On Carolina In Chance For Second Championship Berth

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Mike Richards
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90.5 WESA

Defending champions the Pittsburgh Passion head to Mansion Park in Altoona on Saturday to face the Carolina Phoenix in the hopes of continuing their 20-game win streak and advancing to another league title.

The Eastern Conference Championship kicks off at 7 p.m.

The Passion are members of the 36-team Independent Women's Football League, one of three full-contact, 11-on-11 football leagues for women ages 18 and up. The Passion went undefeated last season to claim the championship title. This year, they are on their way to achieving the same feat.

Players earned their spot with a 35-28 win over the New York Sharks last week. Defenders shut out the D.C. Divas and Toledo Reign in a combined three games this season while racking up an average of 45 points every regular season match.

“We’re playing Carolina, and we’ve already played them once," said defensive end Monica Williams, of Duquesne. "So we have an idea of what to expect. But just like we’ve been practicing and working hard, I know they’ve been doing the same thing. The focus is just the same: to go out, represent the team, represent Pittsburgh, play to the best that we can and hopefully we come out with a win.”

As a three-year, on-field veteran, Williams said local support is a big factor on game day.

“It’s getting better and better and more and more support, because last week we needed the crowd behind us and they go there,” Williams said. “It’s funny. Whenever you let somebody know that you play football they’re like, ‘Oh, a girl playing football?’ But they want to come and see. They want to see if we can hit and play like a girl.”

Quarterback Lisa Horton, of Monroeville is wrapping her twelfth season. She credits much of the team's success to a dedicated coach and crew.

“We have a phenomenal coaching staff and people that care," Horton said. "We dedicate a lot of time in the off season starting in January to learn the playbook, execute the plays and a lot of reps. ... We have a huge sisterhood here where everyone is playing for each other, not necessarily for themselves, so when you have that type of mentality and a unit coming together, good things are going to happen.”

They're drawing from a similar dynamic in 2014, Horton said.

Co-owner and coach Teresa Conn said she hopes her players exemplify the city they represent.

“We’re all Pittsburgh people," she said. "Our kids go to school with your kids, we’re your neighbors, we’re your co-workers. These ladies put an awful lot of time and effort outside of their professional career to come put on. Pittsburgh made us fall in love with football and we hope that we represent you well.”

A win this weekend sends them on to the IWFL Championship in Rock Hill, S.C., on July 25.