Finland downs Team Outback from Australia to grab 5th at Women’s World Championship

In the battle to see which team would not leave the IFAF Women’s World Championships at McLeod Stadium in Langley, BC, Canada, without a win, the experience of the Finnish National Team proved to be too much for the Australian National Team to overcome, as Finland blanked Team Outback 35-0.

The Australians started fast. They forced a Finnish punt on the first series, WR Samantha Kelly then caught an 18 yard pass from Casey Cubis on first down. Just when it seemed they might be gaining momentum, DL Nelli Vaara recovered an Australian fumble on the Finnish 38. The Australians rallied to stop the Finns on a 4th and 7 from the Australian 34, but then they were stopped on a 4th and 1, as the Finns demonstrated they had learned how to defend against the Michigan mass formation. Then the Finnish power started to assert itself.

Finnish RB Maija Turpeinen Photo: Geoff White Images

RB Maija Turpeinen carried the ball down the field on several inside gains, and RB Laura Pulkkinen caught a 3 yard TD pass from QB Pia Kosonen on the last play of the first quarter. Sanni Seppala added thePAT and Finland led 7-0. The remainder of the half was a defensive struggle for both teams until 7 seconds left in the half. Renee Targett intercepted Kosonen at the Australian 4 yard line, but with only time for one play left, LB Elina Kero intercepted Cubis on the 7, and took it into the end zone. Seppala’s kick made it 14-0 at the half.

Australia received the kickoff and started moving the ball, but failed to convert a 4th and 9 on the Finnish 43 yard line. Finland then moved the ball into the red zone, and Pulkkinen caught her second score from Kosonen from the 15. Seppala converted again, and after another failed 4th down attempt by Australia, RB Tytti Kuusinen moved the ball to the 3 yard line where Pulkkinen ran it in for her third TD of the game to put Finland ahead 27-0 after the conversion failed. The punters had a restful day, as both teams continually went for it on 4th down. With 5:45 left in the fourth quarter, Kosonen called her own number and scored from the 6, and then passed to RB Anne Rasilahti for the 2 point conversion to end the scoring.

Australia had one more chance and made it to the Finnish 17 before Annette Backman recovered an Australian fumble. The Finns then ran out the clock and won 35-0.

Players of the game were Laura Pulkkinen for Finland, and DL Rhyanna Edbrooke for the Australians.

Russ Crawford is an Associate Professor of History at Ohio Northern University in Ada, OH. He has published three books: Women’s American Football: Breaking Barriers On and Off the Field (2022), Le Football: The History of American Football in