Renegades defeat Minnesota 42-26 to clinch third WFA title in a row
Mark Simon | Boston Renegades Staff
CANTON OHIO – July 24, 2021 – The Boston Renegades were on a mission to become the first team in the history of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) to win three national championship titles in a row. MISSION COMPL3TE.
Boston defeated the Minnesota Vixen in a hard fought battle at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. Late in the game, Renegades Quarterback Allison Cahill sealed Boston’s victory with a 31-yard touchdown rush. The play resulted in Cahill’s only rushing touchdown of the season. And it put the game out of reach for the contending Vixen who fell behind by three scores with less than three minutes left in the game. Cahill also threw three touchdown passes in the first half.
Wide receivers Adrienne Smith and Emily Beinecke both caught touchdown passes from Cahill in the second quarter after a scoreless first. Running back Ruth Matta, the 2019 championship game MVP, also took a pass from Cahill across the goal line in the second frame. Beinecke’s catch with no time remaining on the clock put Boston ahead by two scores as the teams went into halftime 21-6.
In the second half, the Renegades leaned more heavily on the run game. Boston rushers combined for 195 ground yards. Chanté Bonds, the 2018 championship game MVP, lead Boston with 87 rushing yards. She scored on a pivotal drive in the third quarter to regain a two-score advantage for the Renegades. Matta contributed 75 rushing yards. Her 4-yard touchdown near the start of the final quarter extended Boston’s lead to three touchdowns.
Cahill’s late scoring rush put an exclamation mark on Boston’s victory. She was named the WFA Most Valuable Player of the Game.
Minnesota had its own peak performer in running back Grace Cooper. Cooper, who lead the league in rushing yards on the season, topped 200 rushing yards against Boston’s top-ranked defense. She scored all of the Vixen’s four touchdowns. Cooper was also awarded an MVP trophy, but the Vixen continue their hunt for their first championship ring.
Despite having a hard time wrangling Cooper, Boston’s defense essentially shut down Minnesota’s air game, holding them to only 64 yards. The Vixen was averaging 144 passing yards per game coming into the contest. And the Renegades defense made momentum-changing plays, twice forcing and recovering fumbles in immediate response to Cahill’s two interceptions. Fumble recoveries were made by Hannah Jennings and Nicole Gordon, her career first.
“It was the way a championship game should be,” Bonds said of Minnesota’s competitiveness. “It was great for women’s football, great for our fans. It was great for women’s football fans all across the country to be able to see a hard fought battle for a national championship. This is the reason we play, for games like this.”
Mission Threepeat: A Long Journey to Victory
After winning back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019, Boston embraced their next title pursuit, dubbed “Mission Threepeat.” But the team’s goal of winning their third straight championship became an even bigger challenge because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though they were able to begin preseason with in-person practices, and even travel to a joint training with the Baltimore Nighthawks, the team saw its operations grind to a halt when social distancing was implemented. In-person practices turned into Zoom meetings. The start of the 2020 season was postponed, and then cancelled altogether. It was disappointing news for the Renegades and teams across the nation and players around the globe.
BORN TO PLAY
The weary struggles of a global pandemic were starkly contrasted by an experience that might only be described as dreamlike. In July of 2020, the month when the WFA playoffs typically begin, a documentary film about the Renegades was aired nationally on ESPN. Born To Play, a Park Pictures film directed by Viri Lieberman, received widespread critical acclaim. The film was subsequently re-aired on ABC that month, and later reached streaming services including Hulu and Netflix.
Amidst a season without football, the success of the film gave a shot in the arm to the Renegades and other teams whose own familiar stories were being told vicariously. It kept women’s football alive in the hearts and minds of fans and players. And it raised public awareness of the sport and its participants.
“Just to think that you watch your favorite athletes on ESPN, and then you see yourself on ESPN — it’s a dream,” Chanté Bonds told NBC Today’s Dylan Dreyer.
Despite the emotional pick-me-up provided by Born To Play, the financial toll of the cancelled season hit hard. The lion’s share of a team’s annual budget is spent before the opening kickoff, on training facilities and playing fields and other essentials. That money was spent. And without games to play, the team’s ability to generate revenue was severely impacted.
Several WFA teams were unable return to the field which made scheduling a season more difficult. Because of state and municipal quarantining protocols, team travel posed big challenges. So when 2021 eventually came around, everyone was cautious with their expectations.
“Going into it we were just like, ‘Are we gonna have a season?’” Stephanie Pascual said in an interview with Esteban Bustillos of GBH News. “Almost like you didn’t want to get too excited about it, just in case it got ripped away from you.”
REACHING NEW HEIGHTS
But when a shortened season finally did kick off, the Renegades stayed focused on their mission for a threepeat. They dominated their opponents on the field and extended an unbeaten streak started in 2018. When Boston earned a return trip to the WFA title game in Canton, the team received more dreamlike good news. NFL team owner Robert Kraft offered to fly the Renegades to Canton on the New England Patriots team plane.
“That they actually held a meeting with Bob Kraft and their staff about our team — I can’t put into words how long we’ve hoped that that would happen,” said Renegades owner Molly Goodwin. “What it means to me is that this team is doing all the right things professionally on the field and off the field to put the best product that we can out there for women’s football.”
A RECORD-SETTING SEASON
The rest, as they say, is history.
Boston prevailed over Minnesota in the championship game 42-26.
The Renegades set a WFA record for reaching the National Championship Game four years in a row. After coming up short in 2017, Boston has now claimed three WFA National Championship trophies and is the first in the league’s 13-year history to win them back-to-back-to-back.
By going 7-0 in a pandemic-shortened season, Boston now has 22 consecutive victories, the longest unbeaten streak in WFA history.
With the win, Allison Cahill became the first quarterback to lead a women’s tackle football team to 6 national titles (2010, 2011, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2021). She surpassed the longstanding mark of five set by Kim Grodus of the Detroit Demolition (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007).
Over seventeen seasons, Cahill has passed for more than 22,000 yards, thrown more than 300 touchdowns, and is the only quarterback to have earned 100 victories playing exclusively in women’s tackle football leagues.
With the team’s historic victory comes an historic honor. A team-autographed game ball and a player-signed jersey will be put on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In a team vote, the Renegades unanimously nominated a #7 jersey bearing Allison Cahill’s signature be entered into the Hall.
|Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio||1||2||3||4||F|
|2||7:55||BOS||Adrienne Smith 26yd reTD from Allison Cahill (Vanessa Aukshunas kick)||0||7|
|7:26||MIN||Grace Cooper 62yd ruTD (JoDee Williams kick no good)||6||7|
|2:25||BOS||Ruth Matta 4yd reTD from Allison Cahill (Vanessa Aukshunas kick)||6||14|
|0:00||BOS||Emily Beinecke 23yd reTD from Allison Cahill (Vanessa Aukshunas kick)||6||21|
|3||12:13||MIN||Grace Cooper 40yd ruTD (Grace Cooper 2PT good)||14||21|
|9:42||BOS||Chanté Bonds 5yd ruTD (Aukshunas kick)||14||28|
|4||13:03||BOS||Ruth Matta 4yd ruTD (Vanessa Aukshunas kick)||14||35|
|7:26||MIN||Grace Cooper (2PT no good)||20||35|
|2:35||BOS||Allison Cahill 31yd ruTD (Vanessa Aukshunas kick)||20||42|
|0:47||MIN||Grace Cooper (2PT no good)||26||42|
Game Day Captains: #89 Christina Riggieri, #47 Erica Adams, #10 Adrienne Smith, #75 Hillary Crook
Players of the Game: #22 Ruth Matta (Offense), #24 Briannah Gallo (Defense), #40 Vanessa Aukshunas (Spotlight). #7 Allison Cahill was named WFA Most Valuable Player of the Game.
- The Boston Renegades became the first team to threepeat in the history of the Women’s Football Alliance.
- Allison Cahill became the first quarterback to lead a women’s tackle football team to 6 national titles (2010, 2011, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2021), surpassing the mark of 5 set by Kim Grodus of the Detroit Demolition (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007). Cahill has been accompanied to all six title wins by defensive back Briannah Gallo, center Amanda Alpert, tight end Kathryn Tylander and coach Vernon Crawford.
- The Renegades have extended their unbeaten streak to 22 games, which is the longest winning streak in WFA history.
- #56 Nicole Gordon made her first career fumble recovery.
Previous game vs. opponent: None
Previous game at site: None
Renegades record vs. opponent: 1-0
Odds status (Massey) : favorite (-26)
Win probability (Massey) : 79%
Photography: Kim Jamison, Mitzi Velez Lorenzana
Telecast: FTF Next 7/24/2021 at 5pm Central Time
|Third Downs||9-15 (60%)||3-11 (27%)|
|Fourth Downs||1-3 (33%)||2-4 (50%)|
|#7 Allison Cahill||223||22||34||64.71%||10.1||3||2||26||88.24|
|#14 Errin McIsaac||64||9||19||47.37%||7.1||0||0||13||55.6|
|#21 Chante Bonds||116||18||6.4||26||1|
|#22 Ruth Matta||80||17||4.7||13||1|
|#7 Allison Cahill||22||4||5.5||31||1|
|#42 Grace Cooper||202||21||9.6||62||4|
|#80 Angela Griffin||7||2||3.5||4||0|
|#14 Errin McIsaac||1||10||0.1||16||0|
|#13 Samantha Barber||-11||2||-5.5||0||0|
|#3 Stephanie Pascual||72||8||17||9.0||0||10||1|
|#10 Adrienne Smith||57||4||22||14.3||1||5||0|
|#22 Ruth Matta||30||3||16||10.0||1||3||0|
|#10 Chanté Bonds||30||3||13||10.0||0||4||0|
|#87 Emily Beinecke||23||2||23||11.5||1||3||0|
|#15 Kathryn Tylander||11||2||6||5.5||0||3||0|
|#8 Lauren Yung||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|#13 Samantha Barber||31||3||13||10.3||0||6||0|
|#11 Kaiya Sygulla||15||3||7||5.0||0||7||0|
|#87 Janessa White||15||2||8||7.5||0||3||0|
|#16 Kate Murphy||3||1||3||3.0||0||2||0|
|#52 Allie Genereux||5||5||10||3|
|#24 Briannah Gallo||5||5||10||1|
|#5 Shantia Creech||5||0||5||1|
|#89 Christina Riggieri||3||0||3|
|#70 Danielle Fournier||2||2||4|
|#30 Erin Diette||2||2||4|
|#72 Laura Pula||1||2||3|
|#53 Deanna Walsh||1||3||4||1||1|
|#42 Jen Tamilio||1||0||1||1||1|
|#8 Lauren Yung||1||0||1|
|#46 Hannah Jennings||1||0||1||1||1|
|#36 Charlene Casey||1||2||3|
|#87 Emily Beinecke||1||0||1|
|#13 Shannon Singletary||1||1||2||1||1|
|#66 Steph Jeffers||0||1||1|
|#68 Sam McKay||0||1||1|
|#44 Samantha Bloom||0||1||1||1|
|#2 Carolyn DaCunha||0||0||0||1|
|#56 Nicole Gordon||0||0||0||1|
|#23 Spring Gamble||0||3||3|
|#84 Megan McFadden||0||2||2||1|
|#81 Mariette Martinez||0||1||1|
|#40 Vanessa Aukshunas||6||6||100%|
|#81 Mariette Martinez||6||235||39.2||52|
|#6 Heather Marini||2||64||32||36|
|#5 Tee Creech||2||50||25||30||0|
|#21 Chanté Bonds||2||29||14.5||22||0|
|#11 Sarah Tully||1||0||0||0||0|
|#5 Tee Creech||1||23||23||23||0|
|#99 JoDee Williams||0||1||0%|
|#16 Kate Murphy||3||135||45|
|#99 JoDee Williams||2||69||34.5|
|#11 Kaiya Sygulla||2||69||34.5||39|
|#88 Tina Mielke||1||43||43,0||43||1|
|#11 Kaiya Sygulla||2||42||21||23||0|
|#13 Samantha Barber||1||27||27||27||0|
|#32 Cil Winton||1||13||13||13||0|
|#15 Crystal Ninas||1||11||11||11||0|