Trust the process: girls’ flag football champs

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Photo taken by Savannah Sclafani

In sports, each season culminates in one single victorious squad or person. A dynasty, underdog, surprise, whatever label you can fit onto the champions they are, more times than not, are the most talked about story and the emblem of that season. For the first time in a decade, on June 5, the girls’ flag football team won the City Championships; their story is one that transcends this season and is three years in the making. In fact, just two seasons ago, the girls’ team finished with an abysmal 1-9 record. Through hard work, the team progressed greatly and finished this regular season as the Queens B division champions with a record of 9-1. They surprised everyone in the PSAL except themselves.

The Hawks started this season 3-0 and in early April found themselves up against their greatest rivals: the Francis Lewis High School Patriots who they would face a total of three times this season. They too were 3-0 at this point, and both teams knew how important winning this matchup was in deciding the division champions. In this first meeting, the Hawks jumped to an early 6 point lead, but a 13 point second quarter by Francis Lewis would seal the deal. Exceptional defense on both teams’ part prevented any further scores in the second half, leaving Francis Lewis victorious with a score of 13-6 and an unblemished record. When the two teams met again, the Hawks were 5-1 and the Patriots 6-0. However, both teams would leave 6-1 as the Hawks led a second half purge, winning with a decisive 24-12 score.

“Winning our second game against our long-time rivals, Francis Lewis, undoubtedly foreshadowed this momentous ending to the season,” said junior Olivia Waszczak. “They were the one team that we definitely viewed as threatening on behalf of how we lost to them the first time we played against them. However… our third game against them— one which we won and [therein] became division champs— was also an unforgettable moment in foreshadowing our win in the finals.”

Their third meeting was the climax of the entire season as only two games remained in the season and the winner would be a lock for the division B champions. This game was a nail-biter as a game of such magnitude should call for. Both teams ended the four quarter regulation with a score of 13. In overtime, the Hawks closed out the Patriots with a  clutch touchdown that put the final score at 19-13.

Besides challenges from rivals and other good teams, the girls faced challenges within themselves as well on their path to success. “The greatest challenge for our team this year is most likely learning to adjust,” explained co-captain senior Victoria Harris. “Typically, when we know we are about to face a hard team, we slack in the beginning of the game. We get nervous and anxious, but we always manage to adapt and pull back into a better position.”

Even through all the hardships brought about by the spring season— both in terms of weather and academics— the girls were able to pull through, an accomplishment that many team members attribute to the closeness of the team.

“The overall success of the team comes down to a few things. I’d say the top two factors are chemistry and preparedness,” said co-caption senior Aliana Brkanovic. “Being apart of a team does not mean you have to get along or like everyone, but for our team, liking each other and feeling comfortable came naturally. We grew into a family and that made winning a lot easier because we weren’t just motivated by ourselves but by our sisters. Preparing for games and practicing was more like down time than work time and that made it easier and more enjoyable.”

“We are a family,” added senior Savannah Young. “Our communication is great. Even though we may get frustrated with each other at points, we just have such a great bond where we laugh and continuously learn from each other. And honestly, that is why I believe we are so successful; because of that unique bond and love that we have for each other; and that is very rare, especially because most of these teams are split into cliques.”

With their team chemistry, persistence both on and off the field, and the guidance of Coach Matthew Curiale and their captains, the girls’ flag football team paved its road to a victorious city champs following a ten-year drought.

“Winning the championship means more to me than I ever thought possible,” remarked Aliana. “Growing up, you are always taught that ‘hard work pays off,’ and sometimes that can be hard to believe because [with] school, there are times you try so hard and still don’t get the grade you want; so, there were times I doubted myself. Yet, after each practice, and each game we played, I began to gain more confidence in myself and even more for the team. Winning this championship has brought me confidence in myself and my abilities and taught me that hard work truly pays off.”

“Winning the championship to me means growth,” Victoria added. “From joining this team to now, the amount of growth I’ve seen the team go through is amazing. We used to win only one game the entire season; [we went] to winning almost every single game and becoming city champions too. It means everything to me.”