The pursuit of perfection for the Chicago Force has one final stop in 2012: Heinz Field, home of the National Football League's (NFL) Pittsburgh Steelers.
The 11-0 Force battle the 11-0 San Diego Surge on Saturday, Aug. 4, in the championship game of the Women's Football Alliance (WFA). Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. CT, and this will be, reportedly, the first women's football game ever played in an NFL stadium. It certainly is the WFA's first game played in an NFL stadium.
This is the Force's second appearance in a title game. Chicago lost to Dallas in overtime in the 2008 championship game.
"We're all super excited to be part of something so monumental in terms of women's sports and, specifically, women's football," said Tricia Charbonneau. "We're excited that this is the 10-year anniversary of the Chicago Force and the 40th anniversary of Title IX, and just the opportunity to play in an NFL stadium.
"This game really is monumental; it really demonstrates what positive and wonderful piece of legislation Title IX was. This game is a real, tangible benefit of all the hard work and sacrifices made by all of the other female athletes who have come before us."
Chicago advanced to the championship game with a thrilling 35-34 semifinal win over the two-time defending national champion Boston Militia.
"We're very confident, and I think we can be nothing less than that going in," Charbonneau said. "I think the difference will be the little things, specifically, when the offensive line is blocking people, it has to pancake them and put them on the ground so that there's no opportunity for them to get up and make secondary blocks. Plus, our coverage teams on kickoffs will be keys. It also will be about the defense tackling and the entire team swarming to the ball and trying to [force fumbles].
"I think the team has grown a lot through the course of the season; we're ready."
Charbonneau, in her eighth season on the Force, is the team's kicker. She is married to Amanda Malsch, who plays on the Force's defensive line. The two also are team co-owners.
"It's really exciting for the both of us," Charbonneau said. "Playing football is a very important part of both of our lives."
Chicago is led by team owner Linda Bache, a former defensive standout for the Force. The Force quarterback is Sami Grisafe and Melissa Smith is the top running back. Some of the other key players on the Force roster are receiver Albi Zhubi, running back Brandy Hatcher, defensive back Emma Finestone, middle linebacker Becky Thuestad, linebacker Darcy Leslie, linebacker Kim Marks, receiver Jeanette Gray and others.
- The Chicago Force is offering a charter bus for fans wanting to attend the championship game in Pittsburgh for $100 round trip. The bus will leave the Chicago area on Friday, Aug. 3 and return on Sunday, Aug. 5. Anyone interested is asked to email the team at email@example.com
- The game will be streamed live (3 p.m. CT) on ESPN3.com .