Team Finland routs Sweden in their opening game of the IFAF Women’s World Championship

Many observers, including the participants thought the game between the host Team Finland and bitter rivals, Team Sweden, would be one of the most competitive of the 2022 IFAF Women’s World Championship.

They were wrong.

Finland dominated on both sides of the ball. Their offense controlled the game, rushing 51 times for 237 yards. They added another 65 yards through the air on seven completions in 17 attempts. The Finnish defense held the Swedes to only 20 yards on 16 attempts, and though Team Sweden also had 7 completed passes, in 27 attempts, they only gained 41 yards. The stingy Team Finland defense also picked off two passes. They also sacked the Swedish quarterback 3 times for 20 yards lost.

Individually, Team Finland running Tytti Kuusinen rushed for 108 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns. Quarterback Emilia Räty completed 6 of 15 passes for 46 yards, and threw 1 interception. Defensive linewoman Laura Pekkarinen led the way with 3.5 tackles, including a quarterback sack.

For Team Sweden, quarterback Jensen Ostlund completed 6 of 19 passes for 42 yards, and she threw one interception. Running back Anna Hedstrom was stymied on the ground but caught three passes for 29 yards. Defensive back Hedvig Palocci led the Swedes defense with 6.5 tackles.

Kuusinen opened the scoring with a two yard run with 6:31 left in the first quarter. Laura Pulkkinen added the first of her seven extra points of the game. That opened the floodgates, and Pulkkinen scored her own touchdown on a one yard run. Wide receiver Emmi Järn caught a 17 yard touchdown pass from Räty to make the score 21-0 at halftime.

Team Finland RB #22 Photo: Irja Vaateri

Kuusinen opened the second half scoring with a 33 yard sprint. Team Finland’s defense got in on the scoring when Janika Vikander scored a pick-six from 3 yards out. Running back Mari Jääskelä scored on a 5 yard run, and Kuusinen scored her third of the day from 9 yards out to end the deluge.

IFAF named Kuusinen the game’s Most Valuable Player for Team Finland, and linebacker Elin Thimfors was the Team Sweden game MVP.

After the game, Team Finland HC Mika Eloranta credited his offense with executing their plan to run the ball to control the game. There was not much that Team Sweden HC Patric Malmström could say, other than the obvious. “It was a really bad game for us. Finland was good, and we didn’t execute our plans.”

Next up for Team Finland is Team USA who crushed Team Germany 62-0 in the opening day’s last game. Team Sweden will face Germany.

Russ Crawford is Professor of History at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. His latest book, Women’s American Football: Breaking Barriers On and Off the Field will be published by the University of Nebraska Press in November of 2022. Along with several chapters on sport history, he has also published two earlier books. Le Football: The History of American Football in France was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2016. His first book, The Use of Sport to Promote the American Way of Life During the Cold War: Cultural Propaganda, 1946-1963, was published by the Edwin Mellen Press in 2008.

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