Led by quarterback Allison Cahill, the Boston Militia secured their second Women’s Football Alliance national title, becoming the first team to accomplish this feat. Their road to the championship included two consecutive matches in which they were not favored to prevail.
Of note, the AFC Championship Game against the defending champion Chicago Force encompassed high emotions. Taking into account that Chicago was the host city for the WFA championship weekend, the club was hoping to play for the title on home soil. Boston got to the conference final by defeating the Cleveland Fusion 47-6 and the DC Divas in a 72-56 shootout.
On paper, Chicago seemed like the stronger team. Their offense averaged 45.1 points per game (second in the nation), while their defense ranked seventh overall, allowing 11.7 points per game. In comparison, the Militia were fifth in points, first in yards per game and only 17th in defense. Taking into account that Whitney Zelee, who had rushed for over 2,000 yards in 2013, only managed 162 yards in the regular season, it was a factor in establishing Chicago as the favorite to win.
During the regular season, the two female football titans competed against each other, with Boston prevailing by a 35-18 score. As a side note, All-World quarterback Sami Grisafe did not compete in that game. Chicago was now hoping to even the score in its efforts to successfully defend its title. Boston quickly made believers out of skeptics, overcoming the Force by a convincing 63-14 mark.
Heading into the WFA title game against the San Diego Surge, the Militia were considered an underdog. Having averaged 63 points per game, the Surge had the number one offense in the nation, scoring a total of 443 points, while averaging 343.9 yards per game (fifth overall). Ironically, the Militia averaged more rushing yards per game (203.8 to 163.4) and passing yards per game (229.2 to 180.5) than the Surge.
While the Militia ranked fifth with 39 points per game, the squad only accumulated 195 total points, lowest among top ten ranked offenses. As a side note, the Militia and the Surge were among three teams that finished the regular season with an undefeated record. The Kansas City Titans would also enjoy that privilege.
A key to the success of all three teams was their passing game. Militia quarterback Allison Cahill had led the Militia to the best passing game in the nation, while she ranked third with a 120.0 passer rating. Melissa Gallegos of the Surge topped her with a 129.9 passer rating, throwing only one interception all season compared to a remarkable 21 touchdown passes. Katie Sowers of the Titans finished first with a 133.6 rating.
The lack of respect would prove to be a highly motivational factor. Of note, three Militia players earned AFC Conference awards. Derrick Beasley was recognized as Coach of the Year, while Allison Cahill earned the Offensive Player of the Year nod. Complementing her win was Noriko Kokura, winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
With 28 points scored in the first quarter, the Militia set the tone early. On Boston’s second possession, Cahill would get into the end zone on a nine-yard run for the first touchdown of the game. San Diego struggled with their passing game as Gallegos could not establish a rhythm with Kaycee Clark and Deana Guidry.
A pair of fumbles on their next two possessions provided the Militia with the opportunity to extend their lead. Capitalizing on both occasions, Cahill found Stacey Tiamfook for the 14-0 lead, followed by Zelee scoring on a 17-yard run.
After San Diego assembled a six-play drive to reduce the Militia’s lead to 14 points, the Militia employed great depth on offense to regain their 21-point lead. Tiamfook, Zelee and Adrienne Smith all contributed on a nine-play drive capped by Zelee’s rushing touchdown with only 16 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Turnovers would plague the Surge early in the second quarter. A fumble recovered by Victoria Eddy set the stage for Zelee to score another touchdown, as Militia logged three touchdowns on turnovers. While the Surge replied with a 49-yard drive for a 35-14 score, the defense struggled to contain Zelee. Finding her groove, Zelee managed her second touchdown of the quarter as the scoreboard read 42-14 at halftime.
Despite the Surge opening the third quarter with a touchdown, it would not take long for the Militia to get back on the scoreboard. On a five-play drive, Zelee would gain her fifth touchdown of the game for a 55-21 score. The Surge answered back with their own five-play drive, attempting to turn the tide in their favor.
Before the third quarter would expire, Zelee scored her sixth touchdown on a 14 yard run, squashing any hopes of a comeback by the Surge. With 62 points scored, the game was now out of reach. While San Diego continued to play valiantly on offense, scoring a touchdown with 12:58 remaining, the c lub failed to recover an onside kick. With good field position, it would not take long for the Militia to pick apart their opposing defense, paving the way for Dorothy Donaldson to log the game’s final touchdown.
Statistically, Zelee eclipsed her regular season rushing total. Her single-game performance of 6 touchdowns and 291 rushing yards, along with two receptions for 16 yards was the story of the game. Stacey Tiamfook also contributed to the running game with 109 yards. Three receptions for 77 yards showed Tiamfook’s versatility. Allison Cahill showed great poise in the passing game, completing 10 of 14 passes for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns; she would also employ the running game, scampering for 50 yards on eight carries.
Prevailing by a 69-34 final, the Militia became the first club to capture two WFA National Championships (2011, 2014). Coincidentally, two of the clubs that Boston defeated in the postseason (San Diego and Chicago), won the championship in 2012 and 2013. Complemented by a former title in the IWFL, the 2014 triumph brings the franchise its third league championship.
On September 8, 2014, the Boston Red Sox would make a great gesture, inviting the Militia to grace the field. As a side note, the Red Sox also honored the Boston Blades back in 2013. The women’s hockey club captured the Clarkson Cup over Montreal. Such a show of support is a remarkable breakthrough as women’s sports becomes a significant part of the sporting landscape in Beantown, one of America’s premier sporting cities.