By: Jim Wallin (LFL360.com)
Kent, Wash. – The Seattle Mist rocketed to the surface behind a breakout performance by Game MVP Ericka Smith (84 TOTAL YDS., 3 TD) to defeat the Minnesota Valkyrie, 32-14, before a deafening sold-out ShoWare Center crowd.
Smith, the rookie wide receiver and running back who drew widespread acclaim but entered the contest without a touchdown in her brief career, wasted little time in adjusting the stats sheet, scoring on a six-yard run to give the Mist an early lead. Then, Smith, again utilizing her blazing speed to gain an advantage on the edge, conquered the Valkyrie defense for a five-yard touchdown run, vaulting the hosts to a 16-0 advantage.
Kam Warner (3 ATT., 33 YDS, TD), with speculation abounding that this may the final game of her career, helped Seattle extend their advantage on the very next drive as a strong offensive line blocking scheme allowed the veteran to motor into the end zone to push the Mist to a 24-0 advantage.
Minnesota showed signs of life late in the half, as Whitney Meierotto (2/3, 11 YDS., 2 TD) took the snap and found a wide open Jana Skrtic (2 REC., 11 YDS., 2 TD) for the score, including a two-point conversion, which cut the Mist lead to two possessions.
Statistically, both teams played a fairly even, back-and-forth game, however Seattle capitalized on their red zone opportunities and 33-percent efficiency on fourth down conversions versus Minnesota’s 20-percent.
Valkyrie RB Lisa Bastien (12 ATT., 58 YDS.), who made her return from an Achilles’ injury, played an effective game, but the key to the Minnesota offense was Meierotto as a passer and Skrtic as a receiver, as the two connected for another score in the second half with the game well in-hand.
Emily Bell (5 Tackles) led the Seattle defense with a strong performance and employed out key blocks in her first start on the offensive line, while Kendra Ruff (3 Tackles) played an effective game on the Valkyrie defensive line, filling in for starter Leekplay Paye.
Laurel Creel (4/12, 42 YDS., TD), who scored her first win of the season as a starter, managed an effective passing attack while Skrtic, who returned from a wrist injury, was somewhat effective though ultimately not successful enough to give the visitors’ a fighting chance.
Leading Valkyrie receiving threat Cydney Froelich (3 REC., 42 YDS.) led the way on a largely unproductive evening for Minnesota Head Coach Tony Nguyen’s offense, but provided a significant impact when involved
Seattle back-up QB Angela Rypien (2/6. 12 YDS.) saw limited action late in the contest, however, while she moved the offense down the field, the unit ultimately did not come away with points.
Seattle finished the night as they started, with Smith hauling a Creel pass and dashing through the defense to the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown and, with a successful two-point attempt, a 32-8 lead.
Minnesota (1-3), who started the season 1-0 before dropping three straight contests now return home to retool in what promises to be a very important off-season in the direction of the franchise.
Seattle (2-2) now awaits their playoff fate, as the Mist will be rooting hard for, in part, the Chicago Bliss to defeat Los Angeles and provide coach Chris Michaelson’s team an opportunity to play again in two weeks. Regardless, the Mist improved after a disappointing 2010 campaign and have reached .500 after two narrow defeats.
Photos courtesy: Joe Petro/LFL PHOTOS
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