IFAF Women’s European Championship: Team Great Britain rolls to shutout win over Sweden

Great Britain opened the 2023/24 IFAF Women’s European Championship with a dominant 40-0 victory over Sweden in front of a large and raucous crowd at Sixways Stadium in Worcester.

MVP running back Stephanie Wyant announced her addition to an already talented backfield with two second half rushing touchdowns, including one of 50 yards behind a series of blocks to complete the rout. The hosts led 27-0 at halftime as first-time starting quarterback Angelina Fisher, Siobhan Walker, Ruth Matta and Sydney Green all scored on the ground.

“The girls absolutely smashed it with the blocking and made my life very easy, so I’d like to say thanks to the offensive line and all my coaches,” said Wyant, who graduated to the offense having played mainly on special teams when the Lionesses won silver at the world championships last year. “All the training that we put in paid off at the end.”

Led by a line nicknamed the Sharks, a relentless Great Britain defense ensured the hosts’ drives started in Swedish territory throughout the game, paving the way for a punishing running game to go to work.

“We’ve got a great offensive line and that’s where football starts, so any time you’ve got big bodies that are able to move like that, it makes so many things possible,” said GB head coach Chris Stone. “When you’re able to run the football, it decimates teams.

“We put up forty points so clearly things are going well. We don’t have to rely on any one individual, and that’s sort of the way we look at things on offense, whether it’s our running back, receivers, or quarterbacks, we don’t want one player to have to carry the load.”

Team Great Britain RB Stephanie Wyant rumbles for a 50 yard TD. Photo: Geoff White

In the fifth meeting between the teams ranked second and eighth in the world, Great Britain’s second drive started at the Swedish 17-yard mark after the visitors had been pinned back and forced to punt from the end zone. Walker immediately danced in untouched on a jet sweep to open the score and Samantha Read tagged on the first of her four extra points.

Clare Davies teed up the second GB touchdown with a punt return that looked bound for the end zone until Selma Linden intervened three yards from paydirt. Quarterback Fisher ran the next play in for a touchdown.

The home defense stepped up, repeatedly preventing Swedish pass completions, while Bethany Pilkington produced a sack to turn the ball over on downs and Lucy Peaty came up with an interception. In the second quarter, Walker gained 17 yards on a run behind the blocking of Sarah Okelola and despite being knocked out of their stride by a Sara Lidner sack, Great Britain opened a 20-point lead when Matta took advantage of a gaping hole opened up by the line to surge 33 yards for a touchdown.

The Lionesses missed a field goal following an Emily Mullen interception then a Davies punt return led to Matta advancing to the Swedish one-yard line, only for penalties to move the ball back outside the red zone. Green capped a back-and-forth drive with a surging one-yard touchdown run and Great Britain led 27-0 at the break.

Wyant scored the first of her touchdowns with a bouncing run to the outside on the first possession of the second half. The hosts’ passing game was interrupted as Lidner and Hedvig Palocci both came up with picks, but a return to the running game was effective with Wyant again following blocks to scamper home all the way from midfield.

Michael Preston (@PRMikePreston) is currently working with IFAF in a PR capacity. He recently covered Super Bowl LVII as a member of the NFL PR team as he has done for 20+ years. He has held communications positions with NFL Europe, the North