FIRST TIME EVER, CHICAGO BLISS UNDERDOGS VS ATLANTA STEAM
The Atlanta Steam and Chicago Bliss rivalry began in the 2014 Legends Cup Championship, with Chicago barely holding on to their second Championship after winning 24-18.
Atlanta was a huge surprise in the 2014 postseason after defeating the Jacksonville Breeze in the Eastern Conference Championship. That Breeze team featured a powerhouse lineup that included Lauran Ziegler, KK Matheny, Bryn Renda, Dina Wojowski, Adrian Purnell and more. The young Dakota Hughes would cement her place as the cardiac kid with exciting plays and historic comebacks in her rookie campaign.
Since that Legends Cup, the Bliss and Steam have played eight times, three more in the postseason, and Atlanta has only beaten the Bliss on one occasion. The 14-6 loss in the 2017 Eastern Conference Championship was the one and only time Atlanta was able to defeat Chicago.
This Saturday, April 20th, Atlanta will travel to the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates with a plan to change history and prove they are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference this year. In the off-season, Chicago parted ways with longtime head coach Keith Hac and his staff, sparking the official rebuild period for the most winningest team in LFL history.
There were several former Bliss standouts that also departed either via free agency or retirement which included most noteworthy Alli Alberts signed by the Seattle Mist, Dominique Collins and Chantal Taylor to retirement and Marissa Golliday to injury. These collective departures are sure to have a big impact on Chicago’s season, but the question is can Atlanta capitalize on a conference that is now theirs for the taking?
The 2018 Chicago Bliss was the most athletic defense in league history. Safeties Alli Alberts & Theresa Petruziello, cornerbacks Dominique Collins & Tamar Fennell, Linebacker Kristin Morrison and defensive ends Chantell Taylor & Marissa Golliday. The Bliss rebuilds this off-season features a defense heading into their first game that includes only one of the seven All-Stars, middle linebacker Kristin Morrison.
Offensively in 2018 the Bliss were average at best, with a solid running game and a well-orchestrated offensive game plan with misdirection and solid execution. Quarterback Jayne Caldwell did not bring the flare or dominant play making ability to the offense, that a number of her peers at the position in the league bring. Many analysts put Hughes, Salerno, Matheny, and Angel in the top four at the QB position, leaving Caldwell in the bottom half of quarterback talent. Like any good defense can do for an offense, the Bliss dynamic was enough to win their fourth championship in 2018.
Over the years Atlanta has developed a reputation for being a team incapable of beating good teams and looking back at their history, they only have one win against teams with a record over .500 in the regular season. The Steam are notorious for their highlights and big performances against the Omaha Heart, Toledo Crush, Pittsburgh Rebellion, and the once weak Austin Acoustic. All teams that were cellar dwellers in the league at the time.
Dane Robinson has failed to beat the LA Temptation in three regular season chances, has only beaten the Bliss one out of nine times, and lost to the Seattle Mist in the 2017 Legends Cup. In all, Robinson is 10-8 in the regular season, with five of those ten wins coming against Omaha. This must be hard to come to terms with for Dane Robinson and his coaching staff given the talent he has rostered.
This season Atlanta features another stacked roster, with the return of ‘The Triplettes’ – Lauran Ziegler, Dakota Hughes and Dina Wojowski. Coach Robinson has also signed free agents Michelle Marshall and Aubrey Williams from Austin to provide depth at key positions.
If Atlanta is unable to secure their first Legends Cup this season, the big question will be asked of the coaching- on whether they are the right group to push this franchise to a Legends Cup Championship.
Saturday night will paint a more clear picture of the success of Chicago’s rebuild as well as whether or not Atlanta can claim the Eastern Conference.
ARENA: Sears Centre Arena (Hoffman Estates, IL)
TICKETS: 847-649-2222 | ev9.enenue.net
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Dakota Hughes, Lauran Ziegler, Michelle Marshall
Tamika Robinson, Javelle Thompson, Kristin Morrison
KEY MATCH-UP: Linebacker Kristin Morrison against Atlanta Front Line
Inexperienced Chicago Secondary vs Atlanta Receivers