Storm finish undefeated season as 2014 MWFL Champions

This year in Canadian women’s football, the month of June represents the championship season. The first championship occurred in the Maritime Women’s Football League as the undefeated Saint John Storm were looking to finish their perfect season with a defeat of the defending champion Capital Area Lady Gladiators.

The action unfolded very quickly for the Storm, who were looking for their sixth title in franchise history. On their second drive, running back Kait Girouard scored a touchdown, providing the Storm with an early lead. Despite missing on the conversion, the Lady Gladiators were unable to score on their next possession.

Before the first quarter would expire, running back Lisa Harlow, the first player inducted into the Storm Ring of Honor ran for daylight on a 3-yard sneak for the 12-0 advantage. Once again, the attempt on the conversion did not yield any extra points.

Heading into the second, the defense would contribute to the Storm’s lead. Outside linebacker Tasha Jordan picked off a Lady Gladiators pass, returning it an astounding 45 yards. With the momentum going in favor of the Storm, a pair of Canadian national team alumnae connected on the two-point conversion as quarterback Trina Graves connected with Lori Boyles for a 20-0 lead.

In the second half, Lisa Harlow would find the end zone again to finish as the game’s leading scorer. Harlow scored on a rouge from a punt in the third for the final touchdown of the shutout victory. For Harlow, she holds the rare honor of having been part of every championship in Storm franchise history. While each victory was unique in its own special way, Harlow remarks on the individuals who helped make such accomplishments reality,

“Every Championship win holds a special place in my heart because each win was with a group of incredible teammates. I am honored to have played with each of them.”

Throughout the entire contest, the defense did a superlative job of preventing the Lady Gladiators from placing any points on the scoreboard. Head coach Larry Harlow praised the Storm defense for shutting down the running game of the Lady Gladiators and keeping the passing game under 60 yards.

“Tight pass coverage was provided by corners Jen Brown and Sarah Weaver and FS Lori Boyles who also had a pick. The linebacking corps of Kelsey Cormier (OLB), Robyn Richardson (MLB) and Jill Cox (MLB) shut down the inside and outside runs,” stated Harlow.

For Robyn Richardson, who was coached by Lisa Harlow in junior football, the opportunity to win a championship with her mentor is a treasured one. Representing a bright future for the Storm defensive unit, she shares her reaction on winning,

“We knew going into finals that Fredericton was looking to put a stop to our undefeated season. So it is very exciting (that) we were able to come out with the win this time around! It feels great to be on a team that is able to overcome obstacles and work together as one!”

The linebacking corps also enjoyed the contributions of a remarkable defensive line, featuring Kara Filmore and Melissa Daley at defensive tackle. Lining up at defensive end were Laurissa Boyce and Bethany O’Toole. Linebackers Cox and Cormier were recognized as the Storm’s Most Valuable Players on Defense. For Cormier, the Defensive MVP nod was the culmination of a season to remember. Like Richardson, she represents the proud future of the franchise, establishing herself as a core aspect of the defensive unit.

“It means a lot to be chosen as Defensive MVP. It goes to show what hard work can do. I am very proud of myself along with my team and grateful to have wonderful coaches

Other hardware for the contest included the Offensive MVP’s, which were awarded to Harlow and Kait Girouard. Tasha Jordan was recognized as the Storm’s Rookie of the Year, while Lori Boyles, another living legend in MWFL circles earned the Team MVP honor.

Having played on the offensive (2010) and defensive line (2013) with the Canadian national team, Trina Graves is one of the game’s most versatile players. This season, Graves lined up behind centre this season at the quarterbacking position. Armed with tremendous skill, she showed what makes her such a valued member of the Storm. Her reflections on the championship victory and the effort involved are testament to the remarkable leadership that the Storm’s field general brings to a winning culture.

“After mulling the season over, my feeling is simply that every position on the field matters, every play matters, and every day is an opportunity to get better. I am really proud to be part of such a strong group of women who embrace the work and sacrifice it takes to overcome, excel, and become a championship team. There are a million things I could say about taking the title this year, after a couple seasons of seeing it in the hands of another team. All in all, I am just really proud of all the women of Saint John Storm. We put the work in to deserve it.”

For head coach Larry Harlow, who also coached the 2010 Canadian national team, the blend of rookies and veterans contributed to the perfect storm in the 2014 MWFL regular season.

“The team this year was a mix of rookies and returning players that were a tough bunch. They amazed me every game and made me very proud at the skill level they achieved. They came together early in the season and never stopped working until they had accomplished their goal of adding the sixth championship in 11 years (the fourth in the last seven). It is never hard to coach players who want to be the best.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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