IFAF Women’s EC: Germany stuns Great Britain scoring late TD for a gritty win

Germany produced the second shock of the IFAF Women’s European Championships weekend with a hard-fought and tense 23-22 win over high-flying Great Britain.

Head coach Nicole Manthey’s team, who had also taken a one-point lead into halftime, fought back from being 15 points down in the first half and overcame a six-point fourth quarter deficit to snatch a late victory.

The decisive touchdown came with 4:05 to play as quarterback Silvana Friese stayed calm in the pocket despite pressure arriving and tossed a perfect pass over the middle into the waiting hands of receiver Ellen Riess as she arrived in the end zone. Kicker Gina de Gavarelli held her nerve to split the uprights after an initial extra point try had been chalked off by a flag.

The German defense were then bombarded by a Great Britain rushing game that had proved effective after the halftime break and managed to deny the visitors one crucial yard inside the 10 on fourth down. Running back Siobhan Walker attempted to turn upfield with only 40 seconds remaining but was brought down just shy of the necessary yardage.

Coupled with Spain upsetting Finland 12-0 on Saturday, Germany’s victory over the IFAF World Championship runners up, who put 40 unanswered points past Sweden last month, throws the continental round robin tournament wide open. Germany now travel to Calatayud in August to take on Spain for top spot in the standings.

There was little reason to believe Germany would mark their debut in this year’s tournament with a win when Great Britain surged into a 15-point lead. Running back Walker returned the opening kickoff untouched 78 yards for an immediate 8-0 advantage after a successful two-point conversion and then rushed for a touchdown and a commanding lead.

A high snap over the punter’s head and through the end zone gifted Germany two points from a safety then the comeback gathered pace in the second quarter. Friese fired a pass into tight coverage to hit receiver Anja Treiber who raced down the sideline to score and then caught a two-point conversion, so Germany trailed by five points.

A penalty kept a drive alive on fourth down after de Gavarelli had made a tough catch a play earlier at the GB 10-yard mark. A yard from paydirt, Friese went in on a quarterback sneak and Germany had their first lead at 16-15 with 2:29 remaining in the first half.

As the visitors pressed to regain the lead before halftime, linebacker Maria Schubert came up with a big sack and forced a fumble to turn the ball over on fourth down.

The Great Britain running game proved more effective after the interval, with Walker, Ruth Matta and Gabrielle Derrek making ground, but the resilient German defense made several key stops.

The anticipated breakthrough came when Kathryn Stanley took the ball into first and goal range and from the 10-yard mark, quarterback Angelina Fisher avoided a sack, improvised and found her way into the end zone. Great Britain led 22-16 after Jessica Anderson’s PAT bounced over off the crossbar.

The change in momentum came as Great Britain’s bid to close the game out in the fourth quarter was halted first when Matta was dropped for a loss by Anna-Lena Kronenberg and then when defensive back Isabel Wower came up with a crucial interception on third-and-12 and returned the ball to the 50-yard line.

Germany went three and out in reply, but the defense was inspired and again held firm. On the game’s winning drive, Friese found Riess with a fine pass towards the sideline and, having almost been intercepted by Sophie George, made that perfect connection with Riess, teeing up de Gavarelli to win the game with the extra point.

There was still time for Great Britain to steal a late win, but the German defense refused to submit to a powerful running game. Jessica Oehmke crushed a Matta rush and eventually the critical stop on fourth down sealed victory.

IFAF Women’s European Championships 2023/24

Saturday, April 15

GB 40 Sweden 0

Worcester, England
Sixways Stadium

Saturday, May 27

Finland 0 Spain 12

Vantaa, Finland

Sunday, May 28

Germany 23 GB 22

Solingen, Germany
Walder Stadium

Saturday, August 26, 6pm

Spain vs Germany

Calatayud, Spain

Saturday, August 26, 1pm

Sweden vs Finland

Stockholm, Sweden
Bergshamra IP

April 12-14, 2024

Spain vs GB

 May 24-26, 2024

Finland vs Germany

Sweden vs Spain

August 16-18, 2024

Germany vs Sweden

GB vs Finland

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