Pictured: The Rebels. Photo by Mel Ferrand
Lesions, and cracked ribs, and tears, oh my!
The Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ) flag football leagues ended their fall seasons Nov. 22-23—and while the men suffered through frigid temperatures, the women had more than Mother Nature to contend with.
With the continued growth of the league, the women split three into four divisions for the playoffs yielding some interesting results. Further, this year, regular season stats tended to matter less than usual and even 'Las Vegas' would have had a hard time predicting these outcomes.
In the Competitive Division, the seventh-seed Head Cases successfully upset two higher-ranked teams to march into the finals, only to be trounced in the end by number-one seed Rebels. Additionally, in the Upper Recreational Division, during the age-old match-up between age/experience and youth, youth ( Celtic Crown, the number-two seed ) eventually won out over number-five seed Synergy during an incredibly close game that ended 26-21. Several members of Synergy have been playing football together, under various team names, for the last ten years and currently the average age of the players is over 35. They will definitely be back to avenge their loss and champion older female athletes everywhere.
The Intermediate and Lower Recreational divisions are where things got even more unusual. Hail Mary's was successful in barely defeating nemesis Blue Spin to earn a spot in the finals, only to have their hopes dashed by the Diesel Daisies in a nail-biting double-overtime championship match-up. The game was fierce, with each team executing intricate plays and scoring on almost every possession. When the clock ran out, the score stood at 27-27 and the captains were called in for overtime rules. After the first overtime, the teams were once again locked in a tie, so the markers were reset and the teams took the field again. Eventually, Hail Mary's defense was unable to push the Daisies, and the final score was 40-33. The twice-defeated number-one seed will have to hope three is a charm as they prepare to return next fall.
The championship game for the Lower Recreational Division was where one must have suspended all disbelief. To begin, the match-up was between the two 'worst' or lowest-seeded teams in the entire league. One, Halsted's, had lost every single regular-season game going into the playoffs; while the other, Frieda's, had a total of seven players available to compete in the championship match. To compound this deficit, several of them were injured—a couple during the game—and then to add insult to injury, or 'put salt in the wound,' the one injured reserve was called in off the sidelines to play simply so the team wouldn't forfeit. As one might guess, this wasn't the most beautiful football to watch, but the competition was first rate. Halsted's was down by a point at halftime and Frieda's was resting and icing. Some of the injuries included cracked ribs, split foreheads, torn finger ligaments—and one player was hit so hard she blacked out for a moment. It should also be mentioned that a player came back from the emergency room with her head bandaged and her eye slowly swelling shut, but determined to be there to support her team. Ultimately, the perseverance of these women carried them to the winner's circle when Frieda's won 20-14.
Finally, during the ceremony at the end-of-season party, Rebel Tara Lykowski was the recipient of the second annual Angie Oldham Memorial Award that was started last year to commemorate the dedication Angie had to sports and CMSA. The award recognizesexceptional play in spirit, hustle and sportsmanship.