Cleat Geeks

Game 5 | Windy City Ravens in Rock Vegas

Tuesday Practice
After the loss to the Sioux City Bandits over the previous weekend, everyone was ready to put in work at practice and prepare for the following game against the Omaha Beef.

It was a short practice week for me. Due to coaching obligations with the La Grange Celtics Soccer Club, I couldn’t make the Eagles Wednesday practice. I cleared it with the coaching staff and they told me to focus on Tuesday. I also was granted permission to guest play with the Windy City Ravens if I did not make the Eagle’s roster. The Windy City Ravens are another professional indoor team located in the Chicagoland area. They compete in the Midwest Professional Indoor Football League (MPIF).

Windy City Ravens

Late Wednesday Night
I had a pretty good idea that I wouldn’t be on the roster this week, but I still had my hopes up and remained positive. Roster announced; again, I would not be playing for the Eagles. At the same time, I was very excited to suit up and kick for the Ravens. The Ravens would be playing the Illinois Renegades. This was a big game for them. The victorious team would play in the MPIF Championship game.

Playing with the Ravens was also an opportunity to play in Rockford, near my hometown. This meant I’d be able to invite family and friends that lived in the area to come out and see the game. I was also very happy to play indoor football with my boyfriend Danny again, along with some of my former teammates from the Chicago Vipers and Windy City Hitmen days. From that perspective, it was already a win for me.

Post-game with friends

Game Day
The game was at MercyRockford Indoor Sports Center in Loves Park, IL. I used to play indoor soccer there for many years growing up, but I never realized how low the ceiling was until warm-ups before our game. Field goals were going to be a challenge!

Both teams warmed up for just 10 minutes prior to the game. I was able to get a good 30-minute warm-up in before kickoff, but didn’t get any kicks in with a snap and hold. This made me a little nervous because I wasn’t able to get my timing down, but Danny was holding so that definitely made me feel better. I was confident that we could make a play. The field didn’t have dasher boards either, which was kind of dangerous leaving the plexi glass walls exposed.

MercyRockford Indoor Sports Center

The game was intense and nerve racking. Several minutes into the game, the Illinois Renegades scored. We got the ball back and decided to kick on 4th down. Our coach yelled, “Field goal!” My attempt was blocked. Two defensive linemen crashed through the middle blocking my kick and tackled me on the way down. “Stay down, little girl” I heard yelled at me while I was on the ground, adding fuel to my fire to work harder and play better. Thankfully the Renegades did not score on that play.

After that blocked kick, the O line stepped it up and gave me enough time for the remainder of my kicks. We did have one fire drill when the snap came back too high. I ran out and up the field, but there were 3 people around me in the endzone and Danny was unable to get me the ball with the coverage.

Close, but not Close Enough
It was a close back and forth game from start to finish. Chris Blackmon (#7 for the Ravens) was the star of the game, scoring several spectacular touchdowns. There were a few other exciting plays throughout the game:

  • The Renegades had a kickoff return for a TD
  • Danny jumped in as a defensive end – I think the smallest one I’ve ever seen being only 200 pounds – for one play and had an awesome hit on the QB
  • Dougie Willingham had a crazy catch off the wall between his legs for a touchdown
  • Our defense made some big stops and our offense kept us right in the game

With under a minute left on the scoreboard we were down 40-36. About 20 seconds left in the game our running back lost the ball as he was hit into the wall by 2 defenders. Chris Blackmon was adamant he didn’t drop the ball until after he hit the wall. The refs got together and discussed it for a few minutes, and to our surprise . . . they gave us the ball back. It was now 2nd and goal from the 10-yard line with 15 seconds left. A 4th down incompletion meant the end of the game. I wanted so badly to kick that one last point to give us the lead for the win!

With this loss, the Ravens will battle for 3rd place this weekend against the Kearny Hawks. Kickoff is at 1pm.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

As for the Eagles, they suffered another tough loss in Omaha, with a final score of 50-27. For more on the Eagles vs Beef here is Eagle reporter Danielle Bielawski’s recap of the game!

The Chicago Eagles go back on the road again this weekend to take on the Wichita Force Saturday night, April 30, 2016. Kickoff is at 7:05.

Follow me on Instagram @julieharsh and Twitter @julieharsh99.

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