After spending the last three seasons in the Women’s Football Alliance, the Pittsburgh Passion returned to their roots, spending the 2014 football season in the Independent Women’s Football League. In the season’s aftermath, it was the assembly of one of the most dominant teams in IWFL history.
Having emerged from championship weekend in Rock Hill, South Carolina as league champions, it was a fitting end to a season filled with many memorable moments. The road to the championship began with a 29-6 victory against the Carolina Phoenix on April 12, also the 100th game in franchise history, setting the tone for the season to come.
Triumphs against contending franchises such as the New York Sharks and Montreal Blitz helped the Passion jump to a 4-0 mark, quickly establishing them as the team to beat in IWFL circles. After defeating Carolina for the second time on May 17, the last three games of the regular season included a 21-6 win against New York, a 31-0 whitewash against state rival, the Philadelphia Firebirds and a 38-6 trouncing of Baltimore.
Despite a convincing 41-7 victory against the Houston Energy, it was a victory well-earned. Of note, Houston entered the game with a pair of players from the US National Team that captured gold at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds; Alberta Fitcheard-Bryson and Dr. Jen Welter. Of note, the two also suited up for the Dallas Diamonds in the 2013 Women’s Football Alliance championship game.
The chance for fans in attendance to see Passion QB Lisa Horton line up against Jen Welter (who played at the linebacker position with the Energy), was an epic confrontation, pitting two living legends against each other. Of note, Welter made a remarkable mark on football history, becoming the first woman to play in a non-kicking position in men’s pro football.
Lisa Horton, who would be honored as the IWFL’s Most Valuable Player would also find her name in the headlines this year. Becoming the second woman to throw for 10,000 career passing yards, it was the cementing of her legacy as one of the greatest female quarterbacks ever. She would end the season as one of eight Passion players named to the IWFL First Team All-Stars.
For the proud Passion, Horton’s milestone would be part of many more exciting moments that defined the year. The victory against the Montreal Blitz (the defending IWFL Tier II champs) resulted in Amanda Haeg logging her 100 career reception. She would end her season by becoming the first player in franchise history to have 1,000 rushing, 1,000 passing and 1,000 receiving yards.
Another milestone in the game against Montreal was Horton establishing a career-high with 380 passing yards. Horton would also contribute to another special milestone, as wide receiver Rachel Wodjowski registered 2,000 career receiving yards in a victory against the Sharks.
By season’s end, the Passion recorded 278 points scored, while allowing only 24. In addition to four shutouts (tying a team mark), the Passion set a new team record with 26 sacks. This was complemented by Ciara Chic reaching the milestone of 1,000 career rushing yards.
In a city whose proud football tradition includes multiple national collegiate titles with the Pitt Panthers, and a Steelers franchise transformed by the Rooney family into a model organization, the Passion can now claim their spot in Steeltown’s sporting history. The team was even the recipient of a special honor as July 31 was officially declared Pittsburgh Passion Day. A rally was held to honor the team and featured civic officials such as Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh’s Mayor Bill Peduto, showing a remarkable gesture of civic pride.
Their performance shall forever hold a place in the heart of Passion fans. A group of remarkable women playing in a remarkable time for the growth of the game, the 2014 edition of the Pittsburgh Passion are a once-in-a-lifetime team.