LIVE STREAM: IFAF WWC Gold Medal Matchup, United States v. Canada, June 30 @ 11:30a PDT (8:30p CEST, 2:30p EDT)

Entering the  2017 Women’s World Championship, the USA and Canada were the favorites to play for the championship, and that will be the case on Friday at 7:30 in Langley’s McLeod Stadium. The two top women’s teams in the world have looked sluggish at times, but they have not faced a serious challenge from their opponents.

Gold Medal Game: Team USA – Canada Kickoff: June 30, 7:30 pm PDT (10:30 pm EDT, 4:30 am CET)

Despite going scoreless in the first quarters of both games, USA defeated Mexico 29-0 and Finland 48-0. Canada has also struggled early, but defeated Australia 31-6 and Britain 35-0. Their matchup at 7:30 will close out the games.

USA’s quarterback rotation might hurt continuity, but Sammi Grisafe, Lisa Horton, and Allyson Hamlin have played well. Likewise, the offensive line has opened holes for top running backs Odessa Jenkins, Hannah De Graffinreed, and Alexis Snyder to run through effectively. The defense, led by Tuesday’s game MVP Angel Smith, has shut out both opponents and has shown few weaknesses.

Canada’s Cassey Brick and Julene Friesen, among others, have moved the ball effectively on the ground, and Brick has also caught 2 TD passes. QB Aimee Kowalski has connected on 19 of 25 passes for 277 yards and 4 touchdowns, with 2 to Brick and 2 more to WR Luarence Pontbriand. Where they have shown weakness, it has been on defense. British running back Ruth Matta gained 121 yards on 18 carries, so Canada will have to do better to defeat the USA.

Bronze Medal Game: Great Britain Lions  (1-1) – Team Mexico  (1-1) Kickoff: 3:30 pm PDT (6:30 pm EDT, 12:30 am CET)

The second game of the day at 3:30 will see Great Britain play Mexico. Britain has the advantage of experience playing internationally, having finished second in the European Championship in 2015, a loss to Finland that they avenged on the first day of this championship 27-21, before losing to Canada 35-0.

RB Ruth Matta has carried 27 times for 192 yards and 1 TD. QB Joanna Kilby threw for two touchdowns against Finland, and also ran well. Their defense, anchored by LB Phoebe Schecter, the game MVP of the second game, who has 16 tackles in two games, has stepped up when necessary against Finland. They did demonstrate weakness against the deep pass against Canada, and Mexico has shown they have deep threats.

Mexico is one of the surprises of the championship. They held the USA scoreless until midway through the second quarter, and their speed seems to have surprised their opponents. Their offensive line has opened holes for RB Andrea Romero Vazquez, who has rushed for 137 yards on 21 carries and 2 TDs, This included averaging 5 yards per carry against the USA. They also rotate their QBs, with Angeles Cruz Colon taking most of the snaps. Their passers, which has included RB Luisa Fernanda Sustaita Rodriguez, who has completed halfback passes against both the USA and Australia, have completed 21 of 43 for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns. They are one of the smallest teams of the championship, and also one of the teams playing in their first international, but their speed may make up for their lack of experience.

5th-6th place game: Finland – Australia Kickoff: 11:30 am PDT (2:30 pm EDT, 8:30 pm CET)

The first game of the day at 11:30, will pit Finland against Australia. Neither team has won yet, with Finland falling to Britain 27-21 and USA 48-0, and Australia being defeated by Canada 31-6 and Mexico 31-10. Both have had their moments, but both suffer from a lack of experience at this level. The advantage that Finland has in the game is their running back Jenni Linden, who gained 153 yards against Britain, and Jonna Hakkarainen, who passed for 3 TDs against the British. They have also had the advantage of being experienced in international play, and have exhibited a great deal of discipline, having had only six penalties for 80 yards lost.

The Australians are led by RB Kristy Moran, who rushed for 126 yards and a TD against Mexico, and QB Casey Cubis. They have shown the most offensive creativity so far in the championship, with various formations and plays that have caused defensive confusion. Their primary difficulty is the inexperience of their players, who are playing at the international level for the first time. Evidence of that lies in their 18 penalties for 140 yards lost in two games. They also turned the ball over four times against the Mexicans.

History favors USA

In the 2013 IFAF WWC, the USA defeated Canada 66-0. Whether they will equal that, they are the favorite to repeat as world champion. Canada will have the advantage of the home field, but Langley is close to the border, so there will likely be a large contingent of American fans in attendance.

Finland and Britain have the advantage of experience, but Mexico and Australia have shown flashes during their games, so perhaps the most interesting matchups will be on the preliminary card. Britain versus Mexico will be perhaps the most interesting of the day.

Watch the games from the 2017 IFAF Women’s World Championship live here.

Russ Crawford
Russ Crawford is an Associate Professor of History at Ohio Northern University in Ada, OH. The University of Nebraska Press published his book Le Football: The History of American Football in France in 2016. He is currently working on a project exploring the history of women's football.
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