Team USA RB Dajah Scott led all rushers with 17 carries for 71 yards and 3 touchdowns Photo: Tero Turunen
United States team scored 21 unanswered second-half points to beat the upstart Finnish team 28-10 in Vantaa, Finland and advance to 2022 IFAF Women’s World Championship gold medal final for the fourth consecutive time.
The Finnish did not make the game easy for one United States peloton accustomed to crushing its opponents.
The reigning European champion Finland entered half-time with a 10-7 lead, sending shockwaves through the world of women’s football. However, United States team kept their composure and came out in typical second-half fashion to go undefeated on the world stage.
Finland drew first blood when Laura Pekkarinen threw a 35-yard field goal with 3:10 left in the first quarter. United States team Running back Dajah Scott put the United States ahead when she kicked the ball 15 yards out. Alaina Lange scored the extra point to make it 7-3 in favor of the defending champions. With 4:23 to go in the second quarter, game one MVP Tytti Kuusinen put Finland back in the lead by scoring from the nine-yard line. Pekkarinen kicked in the extra point, and that was it for the first half. Finland team held a superb 10-7 lead.
United States team came out of the locker room ready to reassert their historic dominance and scored three consecutive touchdowns. Scott scored on the first possession of the second half, sending the ball 15 yards out. After Lange added the PAT, the Americans were back ahead 14-10. Then, late in the third quarter, Scott capped another drive with a touchdown, sending the ball from the five-yard line to give the United States a 21-10 lead. Running back Adriana Gutierrez capped the scoring with a one-yard run with just over two minutes left in the game to make the final score 28-10.
Brittany Bushman played the entire game as a quarterback for the United States and went 20-35 for 189 yards, but also threw two interceptions. Scott led the American the rushers with 71 yards on 17 carries, with three touchdowns, and Gutierrez added 18 yards on six carries with a run scored. Wide receiver Angela Baker caught six passes for 35 yards. Krishna Lee and Stephanie Pascual managed four assists each.
United States team linebacker Carla Odom had 6 tackles. Shanice Cole and Danielle Fournier had bags. Eight defensemen, including Quineshia Leonard, Cole, Fournier, Chante Bonds, Satoria Bell, Eshombi Singleton, Sheena Reed and Angie Wells had tackles for losses.
For FinlandKuusinen rushed for 48 yards on 10 carries and Mari Jääskelä carried 11 times for 37 yards. Finland team Quarterback Emilia Räty couldn’t break away and only completed 3 of 9 passes for 2 yards.
The Finnish the defense did a good job of containing American running play, especially in the first half, and linebacker Essi Saastamoinen had 11.5 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for a loss. Defensive back Oona Tuomi had 7.5 tackles and defensive back Hanna Ropanen added seven. They had less pass success, but defensive back Anni Pajunen and linebacker Janika Nikander had interceptions.
Scott won the title of MVP of the game for United States team and she was joined by Saastamoinen who won the prize for Finland team.
Mika Eloranta, CH of Finland teamwas very happy after the game:
“Oh my God. Great game. We were leading at half time. We’ve never scored for the United States team in two previous world championship games. Football has improved so much here in Finland, so I’m so proud of the whole team.
Team USA HC Callie Brownson congratulated her opponents.
“First of all I want to take my hat off to the Finland team. Just an incredibly tough and fantastic team. I’m so proud of how far football has come from an international perspective. You have so many reasons to be proud, and we are proud of you too.
On her team’s performance, she added:
“We came out a bit flat, but I was extremely proud of what we did at halftime to make the adjustments we needed, get back into the free space and play American football.”
This game was the closest margin of victory that the UNITED STATES never had in international competition, and it was the first time that the Americans had been late in a game. Maybe some of Finland the lead is due to their better competition from Sweden and Britain in Europe. They also benefit from having a core of players including Kuusinen, Janna-Jemina Seiles and defensive back Jonna Tuovinen in their squad who have gained valuable championship playing experience in the United States.
United States team will play Great Britain team in Sunday’s gold medal game at 7:30 p.m. local time. Finland team faces Team Canada in the bronze medal game at 4:30 p.m.