IFAF WWC: Germany outlasts Sweden in a defensive struggle

In their first IFAF Women’s World Championship tournament since 2013, Team Germany proved that defenses win games after shutting out Sweden 6-0 in their consolation round game in Vantaa, Finland.

Germany was coming off a tough 63-0 pasting at the hands of Team USA while Sweden was blanked 49-0 by the hosts, Team Finland.

Throughout the entire first half, neither team was able to mount much offense with Swedish quarterback Linda Widberg getting picked off on Sweden’s first three possessions. Germany could not capitalize though as the closest they could get was the Swedish 18 yard line where they were stranded after a fourth and long attempt fell short.

The teams went into the third quarter tied at 0-0 and the pattern continued as both defenses played solid football. That is until the Swedes failed on a fourth down gamble deep inside their own zone and Germany took over at the Swedish 25 yard line. Two plays later, with 7:10 left in the period, German quarterback Silvana Friese stepped back and toss a perfect ball to wide receiver Ellen Ries streaking down the sideline and she took it all the way in for a 31 yard touchdown and the game’s only score.

German QB Mona Stevens #22 Photo: Tero Turunen.

From then on, the defensive standoff continued although Sweden reached the German red zone twice and the 25 yard line once but were left stranded. Team Germany was unable to get outside their own 43 yard line for the rest of the game. The 6-0 lead was enough to assure Germany of at least a sixth place finish in the tournament.

Team Germany’s offense was led by Friese, who completed 6 of 20 passes for 101 yards and the touchdown to Ries. She threw one interception. Germany could not gain much on the ground though as Ries was the leading rusher gaining 18 yards on one carry. Running back Pia Schwarz carried the ball five times for 14 yards. Susanne Erdmann added 13 yards on eight carries. Reiss caught three passes for 66 yards and the touchdown. Lisa Vogt brought in two for 15 yards. Germany had some success in the air, passing for 101 yards on six completions.

Defensive lineman Anna-Lena Kronenberg and linebacker Alissa Oehmke contributed eight tackles each, and Kronenberg had 2.5 tackles for losses. Defensive back Carina Liebenthal had two interceptions. Leonie Stockman and Anja Treiber both had one interception.

Sweden was able to move the ball on the ground, rushing 50 times for 195 yards, but they could not sustain a drive and cross the goal line.

Swedish fullback Elin Luuk carried the ball 30 times for 159 yards and added 10 yards on one reception. Quarterback Linda Widberg called her own number 14 times for 36 yards. Widberg added four yards through the air on 2 for 16 passes but threw the four interceptions.

Swedish returner Matilda SvenssonDuric getting hauled down Photo: Tero Turunen

On the other side of the ball, Hedvig Palocci once again led the Swedish tacklers with 5.5. Game one MVP linebacker Elin Thimfors had 5 tackles, including a sack, and 3 tackles for losses.

Luuk was the Game MVP for Sweden and Ries earned the honor for Germany.

Team Germany HC Tom Balkow:

“I’m happy that we won. I’m not happy with the way we did it. We couldn’t capitalize on four interceptions, and we have to analyze this. Other than that. It’s a win, and we’re in the fifth place game now. That’s what we always wanted, and now we’re going to prepare for this.

Sweden HC Patric Malmström:

“It was a really tough game. Tight and tough, and th Germans came to play. We had a good plan, and we stuck to it. We almost conquered them. Almost.”

Since both teams lost their first round games, neither is eligible for the medal round. Germany will have one more chance to build momentum for the future when they face Mexico on Sunday. Meanwhile, Sweden will square off against Australia to try to get their first win of the tournament.

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