[2013 was my first year covering women’s football. That season, I wrote capsule recaps of every WFA playoff game, so that fans could better follow the results of the 2013 WFA playoffs. Many of these recaps first appeared on the website of my friend, Militia Cheerleader. Here are the capsule recaps I prepared for the 2013 WFA playoffs.]

Wild Card Playoff Recaps

Cleveland 35, West Michigan 6

Cleveland, OH – The Cleveland Fusion’s record-setting season continues. The Fusion used four second-half touchdowns to outpace the West Michigan Mayhem, 35-6.

West Michigan, making their first playoff appearance in three years, trailed just 7-6 at halftime. But Cleveland quarterback Beth Andrasik threw three touchdown passes in the second half to put the Mayhem away.

The Fusion finished the regular season with an 8-0 record for the first time in the history of a franchise that dates back to 2002. The win over West Michigan was their ninth of the season, establishing a new team record.

Columbus 22, New York 20

New York, NY – The Columbus Comets raced out to a 22-0 halftime advantage before holding off a furious New York rally in the final minutes to defeat the Sharks, 22-20.

The Comets, who missed the playoffs last season after seven straight postseason appearances, took command of the game with three first-half touchdowns. The New York Sharks, however, made a late charge behind two scoring passes from quarterback Karen Mulligan. Mulligan’s second touchdown toss with 1:11 remaining in the game shaved the Comets’ lead to just two points.

But Mulligan’s pass on the two-point conversion attempt fell incomplete, and Columbus recovered the ensuing onside kick to preserve the victory.

St. Louis 72, Acadiana 0

St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis Slam built a 44-0 halftime lead and easily dispatched the Acadiana Zydeco, 72-0. St. Louis quarterback Kate Evers threw three touchdowns in the first half, and the Slam defense added a safety and three touchdowns as well. St. Louis returned two interceptions for touchdowns and recovered a fumble in the end zone for another score.

St. Louis, the 2009 WFA champions, advances to face the Kansas City Titans in the conference quarterfinals in a battle for instate supremacy.

San Diego Surge 78, Las Vegas 14

San Diego, CA – The Surge scored 64 unanswered points over the last two and a half quarters, and San Diego began their defense of the WFA league championship by defeating the Las Vegas Showgirlz, 78-14. The two teams traded touchdowns to start the contest, and the game was tied at 14 midway through the second quarter before San Diego took control.

Running back Cassey Brick was the standout player for the Surge, rushing eight times for 191 yards and four touchdowns, recording another touchdown receiving, and catching a pass for a successful two-point conversion. The Surge, who won the WFA championship in 2012, advance to face the Sacramento Sirens next week.

Sacramento 25, Pacific 6

Sacramento, CA – The Sacramento Sirens prevailed in their first WFA playoff game, defeating the Pacific Warriors, 25-6. The Sirens, who completed their inaugural WFA season, are making their 11th playoff appearance, a record in women’s professional football.

The Sirens advance to take on the defending WFA champion San Diego Surge next week in a conference quarterfinal matchup.

Pittsburgh 63, Cincinnati 0

Pittsburgh, PA – The Pittsburgh Passion raced out to a 42-0 lead after one quarter and cruised to a 63-0 victory over the Cincinnati Sizzle. Five different Passion players recorded touchdowns in the first period, setting the tone for Pittsburgh’s largest playoff win in franchise history.

Pittsburgh’s rapid start put a damper on Cincinnati’s first playoff appearance in the history of the nine-year franchise. The Passion kept the Sizzle off the scoreboard, notching the team’s first playoff shutout.

Atlanta 24, Tampa Bay 19

Atlanta, GA – The Atlanta Phoenix continued their undefeated season, holding off the Tampa Bay Inferno in a thrilling game, 24-19. Atlanta held a narrow 14-13 lead at halftime before tacking on another touchdown in the second half to extend their advantage to 22-13.

Tampa Bay, making their first playoff appearance after missing the postseason last year despite a 7-1 record, made a late rally. The Inferno scored a touchdown with under three minutes remaining in the contest, but Atlanta’s lead was too large to erase. The 9-0 Phoenix advance to meet the undefeated Miami Fury in the conference quarterfinals.

Austin 35, Little Rock 0

Austin, TX – The Austin Outlaws built a 21-0 halftime advantage and triumphed over the Little Rock Wildcats by a 35-0 count. It was just the second playoff win for the Outlaws since 2002 and their first ever home playoff victory. Meanwhile, the Little Rock Wildcats suffered their second straight playoff defeat by shutout.

Austin advances to the conference quarterfinals for a Lone Star showdown with the Dallas Diamonds. Austin and Dallas are the only two teams from Texas remaining in the WFA playoffs.

Utah Jynx 36, Seattle 26

Seattle, WA – The Utah Jynx pulled off the biggest upset of the first round of the WFA playoffs, going on the road to Seattle and stunning the undefeated Majestics, 36-26. The Jynx claimed their first playoff victory in franchise history with style, using a strong second-half effort to build on their 14-13 halftime lead and coast to victory.

The Majestics finished their inaugural season in the WFA with an 8-0 record, a regular season mark that included a 47-18 victory over the Jynx in Seattle’s first ever WFA contest. But the playoffs were a different story. Utah’s powerful offense averaged 54 points per game in the regular season, and they summoned enough offense against Seattle to end the Majestics’ season.

The Jynx now advance to a conference quarterfinal matchup with the Central Cal War Angels, who eliminated Utah from the WFA playoffs last season.

Central Cal 34, Portland Shockwave 0

Fresno, CA – Central Cal War Angels quarterback Chantel Wiggins threw three touchdown passes to help lead the War Angels to a 34-0 victory over the Portland Shockwave. Two of Wiggins’ scoring passes went to wide receiver Lisa King, who co-owns the WFA with her husband, Jeff.

The Shockwave concluded their inaugural season in the WFA with a postseason appearance. But they were no match for the War Angels, who ran their season record to a perfect 9-0. Central Cal next hosts the upset-minded Utah Jynx in a conference quarterfinal game.

Conference Quarterfinal Playoff Recaps

DC 40, Columbus 12

Washington, DC – Quarterback Allyson Hamlin scored five touchdowns – four passing and one rushing – and linebacker Trigger McNair had two interceptions on defense to lead the DC Divas to their third victory of the season over the Columbus Comets, 40-12.

The Divas broke open a 6-6 game in the second quarter with three touchdowns in the period. The highlight play was turned in by McNair, who intercepted a pass by Columbus quarterback Crystal Davis. After a brief return, McNair lateraled the ball to Eleni Kotsis, who ran the final 42 yards for a DC touchdown.

Hamlin threw her fourth touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter to pad the Divas’ lead to 40-6. The Divas advanced to the conference semifinals for the ninth time in franchise history, where they will face the Boston Militia.

Boston 63, Pittsburgh 28

Boston, MA – The Boston Militia scored six unanswered touchdowns in the span of thirteen minutes, and Boston started their playoff journey in impressive fashion by handing the Pittsburgh Passion a 63-28 defeat.

Pittsburgh and Boston exchanged touchdowns to start the game, but Pittsburgh’s offense failed to keep up with the relentless Militia onslaught. A 7-7 contest quickly turned into a 49-7 Boston advantage with 6:22 left in the second quarter, and the Militia held a 56-14 halftime lead.

Boston notched their ninth touchdown of the game less than four minutes into the second half and coasted from there. They move on to the conference semifinals, where they will host the DC Divas.

Chicago 65, Cleveland 7

Chicago, IL – The defending Eastern Conference champion Chicago Force took their first step toward returning to the WFA championship game with a dominating 65-7 victory over the Cleveland Fusion.

Running backs Mary Choules and Brandy Hatcher rushed for five combined touchdowns and quarterback Sami Grisafe threw three touchdown passes to pace the Force. Defensively, the Force completely shut out Cleveland’s offense; the Fusion’s only touchdown came on a Grisafe interception that was returned for a score.

It was an abrupt end to a magical season for the Fusion, who started the season 9-0. Their nine victories were a record for a franchise that dates back to 2002. The Chicago Force, on the other hand, are one of the greatest women’s football franchises that has never won a league championship; Chicago was upset in last year’s WFA championship game by the San Diego Surge, but they are still alive this year in their quest to return and finish the job.

Atlanta 28, Miami 24

Atlanta, GA – The extra point attempt after a touchdown is an often-overlooked detail in football, but the Atlanta Phoenix are advancing to the conference semifinals largely because of their attention to it.

The Phoenix and the Miami Fury each scored four touchdowns, but the Phoenix’s two successful two-point conversions made the difference in a close 28-24 win. Atlanta and Miami both recorded two first half touchdowns, but the Phoenix converted the two-point conversion on their second score to take a 14-12 halftime lead.

The second half was a similar story. Atlanta led, 20-18, in the fourth quarter, when a touchdown and successful two-point conversion increased their lead to 28-18. Miami crossed the end zone with six minutes left to cut their deficit to 28-24, but their four failed extra point conversions kept them four points behind and they would get no closer.

St. Louis 58, Kansas City 55

Kansas City, MO – For the St. Louis Slam, the third time was the charm. The Slam lost to their division rivals, the Kansas City Titans, twice in the regular season. But the Slam prevailed in a wild shootout Saturday, 58-55, to pull off the biggest upset of the conference quarterfinals.

St. Louis quarterback Kate Evers did her damage on the ground, rushing for six touchdowns. Her teammate Taylor Hay also rushed for two touchdowns and drilled a critical fourth quarter field goal that eventually provided the final margin.

The Slam jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, but the Titans fought back to tie the game in the second quarter, 21-21. The two teams furiously exchanged scores until midway through the third quarter, when consecutive touchdowns by Evers gave St. Louis a 49-34 advantage.

Kansas City made the score 49-40 after three quarters, but Evers’ sixth touchdown of the game pushed the lead back out to 55-40 early in the final period. Hay’s field goal minutes later in a 55-48 contest put the Slam back ahead by two scores; those three points proved crucial when the Titans notched their eighth touchdown of the game to slice the deficit to 58-55. The St. Louis Slam, the 2009 WFA champions, ran out the clock on a stunning upset and will host the Dallas Diamonds in the conference semifinals.

Dallas 61, Austin 6

Dallas, TX – No team has been able to stay within five touchdowns of the Dallas Diamonds this season. The Austin Outlaws weren’t able to change that trend Saturday, as the Diamonds coasted to a 61-6 triumph.

Dallas defeated the Outlaws twice in the regular season by a combined score of 104-0, so Austin hoped to get off to a good start in their third meeting. But Dallas quickly recovered an Austin fumble, and less than two minutes into the game, they converted it into a touchdown pass from quarterback Brittany Bushman to wide receiver Alberta Fitcheard-Brydson. The Diamonds rolled from there, building a 27-6 lead after one quarter and a 41-6 advantage by halftime.

The Dallas Diamonds, who have the most wins in women’s football history, travel to St. Louis to face the Slam in a conference semifinal game. The Diamonds will try to qualify for the conference championship game for the fourth consecutive season.

Central Cal 65, Utah Jynx 6

Fresno, CA – The Central Cal War Angels advanced to the conference semifinals by shattering the Cinderella slipper of the Utah Jynx, winning 65-6.

The Jynx pulled off the biggest upset of the first round of the WFA playoffs by knocking off the previously undefeated Seattle Majestics. They were hoping to continue their magical run against Central Cal, the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season. The War Angels dismissed such notions early, building a 41-0 lead at halftime and extending it to 55-0 after three quarters.

Defensively, Central Cal continued their season-long streak of not allowing more than one touchdown to WFA opponents. The War Angels have never advanced to a conference championship game, but they will play for the right to do so when they host the defending WFA champion San Diego Surge in the conference semifinals.

San Diego Surge 39, Sacramento 13

San Diego, CA – The reigning WFA champion San Diego Surge took their first step toward defending their title by eliminating longtime women’s football powerhouse Sacramento, 39-13.

The Surge started their championship defense in impressive fashion, returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. They then added two more touchdowns to open up a 19-0 advantage by the second quarter. But the Sacramento Sirens, making a record 11th playoff appearance, refused to fold, scoring two touchdowns of their own to get back in the game and trail by only six at halftime, 19-13.

San Diego took control in the second half, scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter for a 33-13 lead and tacking on another in the fourth for the final margin. The Surge next hit the road to face the Fresno-based Central Cal War Angels in a matchup of the two remaining California teams still alive in the WFA playoffs.

Conference Semifinal Playoff Recaps

Boston 58, DC 34

Boston, MA – The Boston Militia scored three unanswered touchdowns to break open a 36-34 game late in the third quarter and outlasted the DC Divas, 58-34. The Militia (10-0) received their toughest first-half challenge of the season, holding a slim 29-28 advantage at halftime. DC running back Kenyetta Grigsby brought the Divas (6-4) within two points at 36-34 midway through the third quarter with her fifth rushing touchdown of the game.

But Militia running back Whitney Zelee rushed for her third score of the game late in the period to put Boston ahead, 44-34. The Militia then put the contest away with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to provide the final margin. Boston quarterback Alison Cahill capped off the scoring by racing to the end zone for her fourth rushing touchdown of the contest with under seven minutes remaining in the game.

Boston advances to the Eastern Conference championship game for the fifth straight season, where they will face the Chicago Force. The Divas suffered their fourth consecutive playoff loss against Boston, a women’s professional football record. They end their season with a record of 6-4, with three of those losses at the hands of the Militia.

Chicago 84, Atlanta 0

Chicago, IL – The Chicago Force advanced to the conference championship game by thoroughly dominating the Atlanta Phoenix and pitching an 84-0 shutout. The Force (10-0) scored their first touchdown less than a minute and a half into the game and held a 46-0 lead at halftime.

The Atlanta Phoenix (9-1) were no match for the powerful offense of the Force. Chicago and Team USA gold medal-winning quarterback Sami Grisafe threw ten touchdown passes, and Force wide receiver Jeanette Gray hauled in seven of those scoring tosses.

The Chicago Force advance to the Eastern Conference championship game, where they will face the Boston Militia in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference title game. In 2012, the Force edged the Militia in a highly entertaining contest, 35-34, and the winner of this year’s matchup will once again represent the East for the WFA championship.

Dallas 35, St. Louis 20

St. Louis, MO – The Dallas Diamonds passed their first challenge of the season with flying colors. Diamonds quarterback Odessa Jenkins rushed for four touchdowns – including two in the second half as Dallas rallied from a halftime deficit – and the Diamonds defeated the St. Louis Slam, 35-20.

The Slam (7-4), who were allowed to host the conference semifinals thanks to their road victory over the Kansas City Titans in the previous round, got off to a strong start in their friendly surroundings. St. Louis led Dallas, 17-14, at halftime, but the Diamonds (10-0) came out in the second half ready for action. Less than three minutes into the third period, Jenkins rushed for a touchdown that gave Dallas the lead for good, 22-17.

No team had stayed within five touchdowns of the Diamonds all season, but St. Louis pushed Dallas to the limit; the Slam held the Diamonds to a season-low point total and kicked a field goal with ten minutes remaining in the contest to shave the Diamonds’ lead to 28-20. But Jenkins put the game away seconds later with her fourth rushing touchdown of the contest, and Dallas’ defense kept St. Louis out of the end zone in the second half to keep the Slam at bay.

The Dallas Diamonds will host the 2013 WFA Western Conference championship game, advancing to the conference title game for the fourth consecutive season. The Diamonds have lost in the conference championship round each of the last three years, but all three of those losses were on the road. For the first time since 2006, the Diamonds will host a conference title game in Dallas.

Central Cal 40, San Diego Surge 14

Fresno, CA – The Central Cal War Angels used four second-half touchdowns to overcome a halftime deficit, and they advanced to the Western Conference championship game by eliminating the defending league champion San Diego Surge, 40-14.

The Surge (9-2) traded touchdowns with Central Cal in the first half en route to a 14-13 halftime lead. With their second touchdown, San Diego became the first WFA team to score two touchdowns against the War Angels defense this season.

A strong second-half effort clinched the contest for the War Angels (11-0). Central Cal quarterback Chantel Wiggins threw four touchdown passes in the game, three to wide receiver Jamie Fornal and the other to wide receiver Lisa King; King, along with her husband Jeff, is the co-owner of the WFA. The War Angels notched two touchdowns to take a 26-14 lead after three quarters and added two more touchdowns in the final period for the 40-14 victory.

With the win, the Central Cal War Angels move on to their first conference championship game in franchise history. The War Angels will travel to Dallas to take on the Diamonds, who will be playing in their eighth conference title game.

Conference Championship Playoff Recaps

Chicago 46, Boston 27

Chicago, IL – Behind the outstanding play of Jessica Javelet, the Chicago Force dominated the first half and held off Whitney Zelee and the Boston Militia for a 46-27 victory in the 2013 WFA Eastern Conference championship game.

The Force (11-0) took control of the game early on a 90-yard touchdown run by Javelet. Javelet, who played just one game in the regular season for Chicago, added two more touchdowns for the Force in the second quarter as they raced out to a 26-0 halftime lead. Javelet would end the game with 286 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns.

The Militia (10-1) were not able to get their offense rolling in the first half. Zelee was held to just 13 rushing yards before halftime, while Boston quarterback Allison Cahill was sacked five times.

Boston mounted a comeback in the second half behind three rushing touchdowns from Zelee. Zelee would end the game with 252 rushing yards, and her third score brought the Militia within 39-27 early in the fourth quarter when the game was halted for 30 minutes by a lightning delay.

When play resumed, a steady rainfall ensured that there would be no offensive comeback for the Militia. Chicago’s Jennifer Dulski recovered a fumble in the end zone with five minutes remaining to clinch the conference title for the Force.

The Chicago Force won their third conference championship and their second in a row, as they seek to capture the first national title in franchise history. The Militia’s season ends at the hands of Chicago for the second straight year, and Whitney Zelee concludes her season with a women’s football record of 2,832 rushing yards in 11 games.

Dallas 27, Central Cal 6

Dallas, TX – While often overshadowed by a powerful offense, the Dallas Diamonds’ defense has carried them for much of the year. Now it will carry them into their first national title game appearance in five years. Powered by two defensive touchdowns, the Dallas Diamonds won the WFA Western Conference championship game over the Central Cal War Angels, 27-6.

The Diamonds (11-0) defeated the St. Louis Slam last week by a 35-20 score, and it was the first time all year that the Diamonds has allowed more than eight points to any opponent. Against Central Cal, the Dallas defense returned to form and made critical plays that sealed the conference championship.

Dallas’ Angelica Greyson got the Diamonds on the board first with an interception return for a touchdown that put the Diamonds on top after one quarter, 7-0. The War Angels (11-1) responded early in the second period, however. Central Cal – which forced four Dallas fumbled on the day – took advantage of a short field following one of those fumbles and punched in a touchdown from three yards out.

However, a bad snap on the point after kick allowed Dallas to cling to a 7-6 lead. The Diamonds then scored a touchdown with 2:12 remaining in the first half to give Dallas a 14-6 lead at intermission.

Arguably the biggest play of the game came early in the third period. The War Angels took the second half kickoff and drove down to the Dallas six-yard line, with intentions of tying the game. But the Diamonds defense stunned the War Angels for the second time in the contest, as Dallas recovered a Central Cal fumble and returned it 94 yards for a backbreaking touchdown and a 21-6 lead.

Tiffany Hill would add an eight-yard rushing touchdown for the Diamonds with 1:46 left in the third quarter to make the score 27-6. Central Cal quarterback Chantel Wiggins, the 2013 WFA Western Conference Offensive Player of the Year, threw two fourth-quarter interceptions as she unsuccessfully tried to rally her team from a large deficit, and the Dallas Diamonds advanced to the national championship game for the first time since 2008.

2013 WFA National Championship Game Recap

Chicago 81, Dallas 34

San Diego, CA – The Chicago Force had suffered heartbreaking losses in their two previous trips to the national championship game. In the 2013 WFA national championship game, they made sure this one wasn’t close.

The Chicago Force shattered the women’s football record for most points scored in a national title game, obliterating the Dallas Diamonds, 81-34. The Force broke the previous record for points scored by a single team in a national title game set by the Detroit Demolition, who defeated the Pensacola Power for the 2005 NWFA championship, 74-0.

The 2013 WFA championship game was a rematch of the 2008 national title game, when the Diamonds won their fourth national title in thrilling fashion over the Chicago Force in overtime, 35-29. Last year, the Force suffered their second heartbreaking defeat in a national championship game when they surrendered two touchdowns in the final 2:28 of the contest and were stunned by the San Diego Surge, 40-36.

The Force (12-0) made sure their third appearance in the national title game wouldn’t come down to the final seconds again. Quarterback Sami Grisafe broke free on a 20-yard touchdown run for Chicago’s first score of the game, and Chicago took a 21-0 lead after the opening quarter of play. The Diamonds (11-1) had no answer as the Force extended their lead to a 62-20 advantage at halftime and coasted to victory.

Grisafe was named the co-MVP of the 2013 national championship game after throwing for 526 yards and eight touchdowns. She shared the honor with Jessica Javelet, who added 11 catches for 225 yards and four touchdowns. Javelet, who played just one game for Chicago in the regular season, also added three rushes for 25 yards. Other standouts for the Force were wide receiver Jeanette Gray, who had 12 receptions for 213 yards and three touchdowns, and running back Mary Choules, who led the Force on the ground with 104 rushing yards and three touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving).

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