Merrimack Valley native Solina Pascual of the Boston Renegades
Merrimack Valley native Solina Pascual celebrates a big tackle against the D.C. Divas. ©Mitzi Velez Lorenzana

The other New England dynasty: Merrimack Valley locals going for fifth straight title with Renegades

July 21, 2023
Jamie Pote, The Eagle Tribune

REVERE – There seems to be an ongoing misconception or a stereotypical response when it comes to discussing women’s sports.

Ice Hockey? Not enough contact.

Field Hockey? Too many damn whistles.

Basketball? Not athletic enough.

Football? There’s no one like Lawrence Taylor laying people out.

Not so fast with the last one, say three Merrimack Valley women.

Sisters Stephanie and Solina Pascual and Danielle Fournier are three local members of the Boston Renegades, the professional women’s pro tackle football team, which practices and play their home games at Harry Della Russo Stadium in Revere.

The trio are part of New England’s hottest dynasty.

This Saturday, they will be leading the charge for the Renegades to capture their fifth straight Women’s Football Alliance Championship title with a contest against the St. Louis Slam to be held at the Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio with ESPN2 airing the kick-off starting at 1 p.m. Both teams are undefeated with 8-0 records.

Merrimack Valley native Stephanie Pascual of the Boston Renegades
Merrimack Valley native Stephanie Pascual shows off her new gloves to a D.C. Divas defender. ©Mitzi Velez Lorenzana


“One of the best parts about being a woman and playing this sport is you can just come in here and be aggressive, be intense and be passionate, and not be told that you have to settle down or you can’t do this or that,” said Stephanie Pascual. “I played basketball and field hockey (in high school and college) and you were always told that – to settle down. There were always too many whistles (in those sports). Basketball is changing a little bit, but here on the football field you don’t have any of that and that’s something that I have fallen in love with since I started playing.”

Stephanie, 32, is a team captain. She grew up in Lawrence along with her sisters Angelica, a former Renegades’ running back, and Solina, who is in her second year with the team as a linebacker. Stephanie plays a hybrid wide receiver spot, which includes occasionally running the ball and also acting like a tight end. She is fourth in the league in touchdowns with four. She also has four league championship titles under her belt, as well as being a part of last year’s USA National Gold Medal team. She’s been with the team since 2017, the season when the Renegades lost in the championship game.

“That was probably the most memorable loss I’ve ever had,” said Stephanie, who played field hockey and basketball at Proctor Academy before setting several records playing field hockey at Mount Holyoke College. “You learn the most from your losses and that one has stuck with all of us. Just getting to that point and not finishing. The whole team has carried that since the beginning and I carry that with me during every game.”

A former Merrimack Valley Flag Football player, who works in the Financial District in Boston, Stephanie first came to the Renegades as a linebacker. She is also the one who helped convince Solina to join.

“Playing tackle football has been a game-changer for me. It’s way different than flag. It’s more competitive and I just love the sport,” said Solina, who is 28 and works for Boston Public Schools as an Applied Behavior Analysis Specialist. “Stepping on the field and competing with these athletes who come to compete every day and bring 110 percent every day in practice, every film session, every Saturday’s captains practices and every game, it’s just amazing to see these women playing around me and playing this sport that others thought couldn’t play.”

Solina – who played basketball at Central Catholic — ranks 26th in the league in tackles with 40 and also has a forced fumble. She’s part of a defense that has allowed just 63 points in eight games, including three shutouts. They are taking on a Slam team that has scored 312 points and given up just 47 all season.

“We’re going to go into playing St. Louis and be ourselves and play like we have all season,” said Solina. “We’re going to dominate. We’re excited to go up against a new offense that we haven’t seen before, but honestly I don’t doubt my defense. Our defense has been dominant all season and that’s what we’re going to continue to do. We’re going to kick butt and I hope they are ready for us.”

Merrimack Valley native Danielle 'Donny' Fournier of the Boston Renegades
Merrimack Valley native Danielle Fournier sacks D.C. Divas quarterback Amanda Congialdi. ©Jess Dodge


Fournier played softball and basketball at North Andover High, graduating in 2014. From there she attended UNH and played rugby. During her senior year, she hooked up with the Renegades as an intern. The team’s General Manager Benjamin Brown caught wind of the rugby background and the rest is history.

“He’s been calling me ever since,” said Fournier with a laugh.

A former Defensive Player of the Year, Fournier, 30, who works as a strength and conditioning instructor in Lowell, has excelled as a Defensive End.

“(Fournier is a) great person first and most of all she is a great athlete,” said assistant coach Vern Crawford. “I think she’s one of the more dynamic athletes we’ve had or I’ve seen in the last 15 years that I’ve been around. She can do anything. She can take over a game at defensive end. She could probably play linebacker or safety because she’s one of the fastest players we have as a bigger person. She’s just an awesome player and awesome at everything.”

Fournier has also been a part of all four team championship titles. She knows the Renegades are the favorites, coming in to the game outscoring opponents 493-63, but said in no way does that automatically give the team another trophy.

“It’s different year and different team, but we all have the same goal,” she said. “St. Louis is an amazing team and I really respect them, but for us, the biggest key is just to be ourselves (and we will win).”