Women's football team finishes 7-1
One loss in the regular season equals zero playoff opportunities?
The Portland Fighting Shockwave women's football team is trying to figure out how that adds up.
The team, which plays home games at Milwaukie High, did just about everything it could to make the national playoffs for a second consecutive year. But a 7-1 record (the loss was by three points at Seattle in Week 2) wasn't quite good enough.
The 64-team Women's Football Alliance uses a tier-based ranking system, and it didn't work in Portland's favor. Going to the playoffs ahead of the Fighting Shockwave are the San Diego Surge, who went 5-3 but advanced as the third and final Division 1 team from the Pacific region largely on a perceived strength of schedule.
Portland competes in a division that includes Division 2 Everett and Tacoma and Division 3 Southern Oregon, along with Division 1 Seattle. Everett and Southern Oregon are going to the playoffs at their levels. The Fighting Shockwave won their final game, 62-8, at the Southern Oregon Lady Gades on May 27.
Portland and San Diego did not meet this season — and the Fighting Shockwave's partly-in-jest offer to play host to the Surge last week in a winner-goes-to-the-playoffs showdown went, understandably, without a reply from Southern California.
As the Surge open the playoffs Saturday against the Los Angeles Warriors, Portland players and coaches will look back to the first of their two Seattle games, and to a second-half rally that came up short when the Majestics kicked a late field goal to win, 24-21.
"It's disappointing to be 7-1 and to have played one bad half and not be going to the playoffs," Portland quarterback Hollie Petrie says. "We just weren't clicking yet. But that loss made us realize that we had to put it together."
Missing out on the playoffs "is hard," Portland coach Tim Price says. "These ladies pay money to play, and win their conference and have nothing to look forward to after that. If we're the best team in the Northwest, why don't we get a chance to go try to prove ourselves?"
The 2016 team went undefeated in the regular season.
"It felt like we had the same amount of experience and great coaching staff and great players," Petrie says, "and we had a great rookie class, so in many respects I feel like this year's team was stronger."
Price, a longtime coach of men's high school and college football and former head coach at Jefferson High, says this year's Fighting Shockwave was coming on strong.
"I think this team was a little more jelled than last year's, more polished," Price says. "We had a very good running game that I'd put up with anybody's in the country. We had two players (Simone Shepherd and Erin Miller) who were national leaders in interceptions (with nine and six). We can play with anybody."
This also was Year 2 since the merger of two Portland women's football teams, the Fighting Fillies and Shockwave. The 2016 season was in good measure about blending the teams and getting through any issues that might have carried over from the rivalry.
Danielle Riggleman led the 2017 ground game with 859 yards (6.9 per carry). Rebecca Dawson gained 626 yards (6.9) and scored a team-high 13 touchdowns. Riggleman and Miller each ran for six TDs. Shepherd caught a team-leading 27 passes for 320 yards. Jessica Gerdes led the club in tackles with 49 1/2. Riggleman had six sacks.
Price says he's not sure if he'll be back, because "my passion is high school football, and I want to be a head coach again." He hopes the Fighting Shockwave can add some depth for 2018.
"We had a core of 23-24 players, but some of them had to go both ways and play special teams. They did a fantastic job. The biggest thing now is recruiting players, anywhere from Longview to Vancouver to Salem. Portland's not that far of a drive. We should be able to get five or six ladies from each city to come out here and playoff football."
That could make a big difference in practices and games.
"More bodies would be great," Petrie says.