United States blanks Team Finland to earn berth in championship game in Women’s World Championship

The defending champion, Team USA, moved on to the gold medal game in the 2017 IFAF New York Women’s World Championship by defeating Finland 48-0 at McLeod Stadium in Langley, B.C., Canada.

Finland, like Mexico in the previous game, kept the USA out of the end zone for the first quarter, stopping the Americans twice on 4th down in the first quarter. But, as Team USA Head Coach Jim Farrell said in the post game press conference, “The game isn’t 12 minutes long, it’s 48 minutes long.” For Finland, the final 36 minutes would be difficult.

The Finns came into the game looking forward to playing the best women’s team in the world. Offensive tackle Suvi Mantynieni said to American Football International on Monday that she looked forward to being able to play against someone her own size. Mantyniemi played well, but was out of the game for a series after being shook up, and Angel Smith, her personal opponent was named the player of the game for the USA.

The USA scored first when defensive lineman Kimberlly Marks blocked a Finnish punt, which then went out of the end zone for a safety. The Americans then drove down the field and quarterback Sammi Grisafe got the Finnish defensive backs to bite on a pump fake, and hit Jewelle Grimsley for a 23 yard TD pass. Grisafe hit Ashley Whisonant from 15 yards out for the second USA touchdown. After Melissa Strother made the first PAT, a bad snap forced her to run for it, and the second attempt failed.

The Finns were unable to successfully punt the ball, and after the USA blocked three punts in succession, they began going for it on 4th down, regardless of field position.

After second QB Lisa Horton threw to wide receiver Jeannette Gray at the one yard line, Hannah DeGraffinreed punched the ball in, but the attempt for a two point conversion failed.

At the end of the first half, the Finns drove to the USA 18 yard line, but could not get the ball across for a score. The USA led 21-0 at half.

In the second half, Lisa Horton scored after she ran 47 yards on a quarterback keeper to the 1, and carried the ball twice more for the touchdown. DeGraffinreed’s 2 point attempt failed. Horton then hit Angela Baker for a 30 yard touchdown, and Strother made the PAT. Alexis Snyder ran 24 yards for a touchdown. After Whisonant caught a 24 yard pass from third QB Allyson Hamlin to the 16, Erica Mois finished the scoring with a 3 yard run. The final score: USA 48 Finland 0.

The players of the game were DL Angel Smith for the USA and LB Tiina Mottonen for the Finns.

Russ Crawford
Russ Crawford is an Associate Professor of History at Ohio Northern University in Ada, OH. The University of Nebraska Press published his book Le Football: The History of American Football in France in 2016. He is currently working on a project exploring the history of women's football.
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