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April 14, 2010 > Strong defense earns Bandits first win

Strong defense earns Bandits first win

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.
Photos By William Mancebo

In its first season in the Independent Women's Football League (IWFL), the Bay Area Bandits bounced back from a tough road loss in Sacramento a week ago to earn the franchise's first victory, 13-0, over the Portland Shockwave at Tak Fudenna Memorial Stadium in Fremont on Saturday, April 10.

"The girls worked hard for this first one," said Bandits coach Jim Goulden. "Last week's game (a 33-13 loss) was an eye opener for them; and they came out today and executed everything they needed to do."

While the defense was holding the Shockwave without a first down for the entire first half, the Bandits' offense was having its own struggles against Portland's defense.

After forcing Portland to punt on its first possession of the second quarter, the Bandits finally got on the scoreboard.

Kimberly Mosley set up the offense with great field position, returning the punt 23 yards to the Shockwave 40. And on the first play of the series, Dakura Smith took a pitch from quarterback Sandra Hernandez and galloped 16 yards to the 24.

Facing a fourth and two, the Bandits coaching staff elected to go for it, and offensive coordinator Tony Macon called La Star Brown's number. Brown pounded the ball for a six-yard run to convert on fourth down. Two runs later, Brown carried would-be tacklers nine yards and into the end zone for a Bandits touchdown and 7-0 lead, which it took into halftime.

The third quarter, much like the first, was scoreless with both defensive units controlling the line of scrimmage. Danielle Golay, Lanecia Strom and Sam Brinkerhoff recorded multiple sacks and tackles behind the line of scrimmage for the Bandits defense.

"We pushed into the backfield most of the game and were successful at causing havoc with the quarterback and running backs in order to stop the play before it had started," said Golay. "We have a lot to improve on, but our defensive squad should be proud of their efforts."

Bay Area began to show signs of breaking through the Shockwave defensive line with a couple long runs to end the third quarter. And on the second play of the fourth quarter, still leading 7-0, the Bandits caught the Shockwave off guard.

Macon called a play-action pass (drawn up by line coach Johnnie Hamm at halftime), which Hernandez rolled out to the strong side and heaved a pass to a wide open Golay (playing tight end) which she caught and ran into the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown. Portland blocked the PAT, leaving the score 13-0.

"The corner route was wide open and left little time for the safety to get over the opposite side of the field," said Golay. "Hernandez tossed a nice toss my way and I was wide open to catch it. Within a few steps, I was in the end zone. It was a great play."

Golay and the defense took over from that point. In the Shockwave's next three possessions, the Bandits picked off Megan Vandenberg twice -- Brown and Mosley doing the honors -- and turned them over on downs.

"It's always good to have a shutout," said Goulden. "They are starting to learn more about what each other can do; they're coming together as a unit ... it's just going to get more cohesive as the season goes on."

"Winning our first game for the Bandits feels great," said Golay. "We are one of the new teams in the league, but this team has high expectations this season."

On Saturday, April 17, the Bandits will try and make it two wins in a row when they head to Southern California to take on the SoCal Breakers. Kickoff for that contest is at 7 p.m. And after a bye week, the Bandits return to Tak to battle those same Breakers on Saturday, May 1, at 1 p.m.

Golay and the Bandits look forward to their return to Tak to play in front of the fans, who she feels gives the Bandits a decided home-field advantage.

"When the fans are behind us, it isn't 11 on 11 out on that field, it is 200-plus against 11; who can match that?" Golay asked. "A huge thanks goes out to all of our supporters, both in the stands and the generous volunteers that helped make our first home game successful."

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