Laurie Frederick, CEO for the Independent Women's Football League ( IWFL ) , said it best when she addressed both teams in the Tier One National Championship game and the overflow crowd at the Holmgren Athletic Complex at North Park University, 3225 W. Foster.
The Dallas Diamonds needed almost seven minutes of sudden-death overtime to defeat the Chicago Force. Frederick said, "This was the best football game I've seen. Not just the best women's football game, but the best football game."
No truer words could have been said about the 35-29 classic, which ended when Dallas running back Jessica Springer scored on a 13-yard touchdown run, her fifth touchdown of the game.
"It was a phenomenal game," said Chicago defensive star Linda Bache, who doubles as the team's general manager. "We knew we'd have to score at least three touchdowns to win. We did that. In fact, we scored four touchdowns but, ultimately, it just wasn't enough.
"That said, [ the loss ] doesn't diminish the success we've had this season. It was a great year and I think we'll be back next year."
The Force ended its best season ever with a 10-1 record, while the Diamonds end 11-0.
It was 8-8 at halftime, but when the third-quarter buzzer rang, the Force held a 22-21 edge.
Springer scored with 10:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, giving the Diamonds a 29-22 lead. The Force answered with 6:14 remaining in regulation time on an Angie Bandstra reception from quarterback Sami Grisafe.
Chicago Pam Schaffrath intercepted a pass with 25 seconds remaining and the Force drove down to the 2-yard line, but regulation time expired.
Dallas won the coin flip and elected to receive the overtime kickoff—and then Springer went back to work.
"She's the most dominant player in women's football; she was the difference," Bache said. "If we had won the coin toss [ in overtime ] , I think we would have gone down and scored, but it didn't happen."
Chicago's Melissa Smith scored two touchdowns, on rushes of 1- and 11-yards. Grisafe also scored a rushing touchdown.
"It was an amazing, amazing game," said Chicago linebacker Rosalyn Bennett. "Both teams played with a lot of heart and intensity. We left everything on the field.
"It's very tough to lose at home because we really wanted to win for our fans, not just for ourselves. But, I guess there's consolation in losing to a three-time champion [ from another women's tackle football league. ]