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TRIBUNE PHOTO: RYAN CLARKE - The Portland Fighting Shockwave get set for their playoff game Saturday at Milwaukie High.MILWAUKIE — Night has fallen on the football field at Milwaukie High — the bright lights glaring above the turf. Forty-two football players kneel before their coaches for the final time in 2016, as a previously undefeated season has come to a bitter end.


After heartfelt speeches from players and coaches, everyone huddles. They chant: “One city, one team, one mission.”

That motto belongs to the Portland Fighting Shockwave of the Women’s Football Alliance.

Rewind three hours and the Shockwave are 8-0 and riding high after a regular season in which they claimed the Pacific North Division championship.

This was the first season for the franchise in its present form. Before this year, Portland had two women’s football teams: the Fighting Fillies and the Shockwave.

A merger created a powerhouse derailed only once, 14-7 Saturday by the Pacific Warriors, a Los Angeles-based club.

“We came together — two different teams — and just dominated this league,” Portland quarterback Veronica Ferguson said. “As one of the veterans on the team, it was amazing to watch us grow.”

The Warriors earned their playoff spot by going 5-2 in the Pacific South Division.

Founded in 2007, the WFA is a full-contact tackle football league that provides an opportunity for women to get on the gridiron.

Portland fans packed the stands Saturday for the first-round matchup, which featured two of the highest-scoring teams in the WFA.

When it was time for the Shockwave and Warriors to step between the lines, however, the results were anything but typical.

Both Portland and Pacific, boasting two of the WFA’s most dangerous running games, were averaging about 42 points per game. But you wouldn’t have guessed it by watching the game on Saturday.

The Warriors won the grind-it-out affair largely behind the efforts of running back Priscilla Gardner. On Pacific’s first offensive play, she took the ball 92 yards to the end zone.

Gardner led the league in rushing touchdowns during the regular season with 31, so she was in familiar territory.

It wouldn’t take long for Gardner to find paydirt again. She scampered for an 82-yard score in the second quarter, and the Warriors led 14-0 at the half, with the Shockwave looking gassed.

But this Portland team, which had allowed only four points per game, found a second wind and held Pacific scoreless the rest of the way.

The Fighting Shockwave’s first successful drive came in the early fourth quarter. Ferguson found Coco Rallings for an 11-yard touchdown.

Portland then forced a three-and-out, and a glimmer of hope came in the form of a fumbled snap, which caromed off the foot of the Pacific punter before Portland gained possession.

The crowd erupted as Portland had set itself up for some late-game magic.

But Portland fumbled a snap of its own to push itself out of four-down territory, and all of the energy in the stadium was gone in the blink of an eye.

Portland punted, Pacific ran out all but a minute of the clock, and the Fighting Shockwave couldn’t make it past midfield before time expired.

As the team broke its final postgame huddle and players were brushing turf off their legs, Portland oach Tim Price reflected on what he called a “great season.”

“As a coach, you just try to teach the fundamentals of life and the fundamentals of football,” Price said. “I think they got it, and that’s why it transferred into the season we had.”

Running back Rebecca Dawson, a key cog in the Fighting Shockwave offense, said that while her team was “mourning” the loss, they also were celebrating a successful season.

“There was truly support everywhere,” Dawson said. “It didn’t matter what team you came from last year. It just felt like a strong, united group.”

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