In what is being billed as the gold medal final, the host nation, Great Britain will square off against unbeaten Team Finland as the IFAF 2019 Women’s European Championships wrap up Saturday, August 17 at John Charles Stadium in Leeds, England.
This is the game that will decide the gold medal. Finland opened the tournament by routing the Austrians 50-0 and then scored a last second touchdown to defeat Team Sweden 27-20. Great Britain lost a tight 9-6 game to Sweden on the first day and had a chance to score with 30 seconds left but a last second interception by the Swedes snuffed out that opportunity. They rebounded by beating Austria 36-6.
Finland will win the gold medal if they defeat Great Britain or if they lose by 4 points or less. A British victory by five points or more, based on the tie-breaking rules, would give Great Britain the gold medal. Read the entire breakdown here.
Finland and Great Britain have faced each other twice before in international tournaments. In the 2015 IFAF Women’s European Championship in Granada, Spain Finland defeated Great Britain in the title game, 50-12. Since then, Great Britain has gotten the better of the Finns, defeating them in the 2017 World Championships.
For Finland, the running game is the bread and butter of the offense with Tytti Kuusinen carrying the bulk of the load. She will no doubt be front and center Saturday. She had two touchdowns against Sweden and four in the win over Austria. She is tough, tenacious and difficult to bring down. Finland’s other dangerous running back, Mari Jääskelä, has scored a pair of touchdowns in the tournament and gives defenses a different problem. Defensive tackle Hilkka Rahkonen anchors a physical defensive front seven and could control the line of scrimmage.
The Brits have their own weapon in Ruth Matta is may be a little more elusive and is extremely fast. She has scored three touchdowns so far and is the anchor of the offense. Another key of course is Britain’s quarterback Sydney Green who can throw but can also take off with the ball so the Finns will have to keep her in check. The other running back, Siobhan Walker, cannot be overlooked. She led the team in rushing against Austria gaining 90 yards on the ground and scoring two touchdowns.
Team Finland head coach Mika Eloranta sees a few key matchups as crucial in this game:
“British linebacker Rachel Moody,# 55 has played a good tournament and it will be interesting to see how our offensive line handles her. Aimee Cottingham, #64, who anchors the defensive line is tough and you have to get her under control. Phoebe Schecter # 16 has been one of their most important players on defense and we have to look out for her as well.”
This game is a toss up. Playing at home with a chance of winning gold, Great Britain may have the edge.