KD Ellison of the Boston Renegades outruns D.C. Divas defenders for a touchdown. Copyright MitziVelez Lorenzana
KD Ellison of the Boston Renegades outruns D.C. Divas defenders for a touchdown. ©Mitzi Velez Lorenzana

Boston Renegades romp D.C. Divas, reach National Conference Championship of Women’s Football Alliance playoffs

June 24, 2023
Kat Cornetta, Boston Globe

REVERE — In their two regular-season meetings earlier this spring against the D.C. Divas, the Boston Renegades encountered little resistance in scoring a pair of dominating wins by a combined margin of 147-31.

Their third matchup against the Divas, in the quarterfinals of the Women’s Football Alliance playoffs Saturday at Harry Della Russo Stadium, provided little to no deviation from the outcome of the previous two meetings.

Despite some early hiccups, the Renegades overwhelmed the Divas, 70-14, to earn a berth in the WFA National Conference championship against the unbeaten Alabama Fire (7-0).

Veteran quarterback Allison Cahill led the way for the four-time WFA champion Renegades (7-0), as the league’s leading passer completed 21 of 32 passes for 251 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Ruth Matta scored three touchdowns and Katie Falkowski tallied on a pair off TD runs in a runaway performance.

Adrienne Smith opened up the Renegades’ scoring less than two minutes into the game, snaring a 28-yard pass from Cahill for a touchdown.

On their first possession of the game, the Divas (3-4) were plagued early on turnovers and victimized in particular by wild snaps on the center-quarterback exchange. Whitney Zelee, the Renegades’ defensive captain, had a pair of tackles and converted one of the visitors’ miscues into a touchdown when she recovered a wayward snap in the end zone to give Boston a 14-0 lead.

“The play before was a high snap, but I just missed it,” Zelee said. “The next play, it happened again, and I was in the right place at the right time. The first two or three games, I had a few fumble recoveries, but fell over, so I owed it to the team to get this one into the end zone this time. I was so relieved.”

After the Renegades were stymied when an 18-play drive yielded no points when a Cahill pass attempt was broken up in the end zone, leaving several Boston players to grumble, “That was awful,’’ as they jogged to the bench.

Matta, however, refused to allow her Renegade teammates to lament their missed scoring opportunity.

“You just have to think about the next drive, the next effort,” said Matta. “You can’t dwell on these things during the game. You can’t waste that energy. We just moved forward.”

After the Divas continued to struggle with their center-quarterback exchange, Matta helped the Renegades capitalized on their ensuing drive useless, capping a five-play march with a 25-yard TD run for a 21-0 lead.

The Divas finally got on the board when quarterback Amanda Congialdi connected with Shaquanda Gainey on a scoring toss five minutes into the second quarter, but the Renegades answered when Matta scored on a 6-yard TD scamper for a 28-7 lead that grew to 35-7 at halftime on Cahill’s 68-yard TD pass to KD Ellison.

The Renegades put the quarterfinals match out of reach with 35 consecutive points in the second half.

Tytti Kuusinen scored on a 4-yard TD dash, Kyshani Dummott and Stephanie Pascual added touchdowns on consecutive Renegade possessions. On the final play of the third quarter, Boston defensive back Briannah Gallo intercepted Congialdi to set up Falkowski’s 6-yard TD run.

With 4:44 left in the game, Boston scored on its 10th offensive possesion, with Falkowski tallying on a TD plunge, making it 70-7 before the Divas added a touchdown with two minutes remaining that proved woefully too little too late.