Toronto Triumph Look to Win First Game in Franchise History

Mark StaffieriContributor IIOctober 23, 2012

Courtesy LFL Canada
Courtesy LFL Canada

Heading into the final LFL Canada contest of the league’s inaugural regular season, the Toronto Triumph have the opportunity to win their first contest in franchise history. In looking to build its fan base and build momentum, ending the season on a winning note would be crucial for the Triumph. The October 27 contest at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga will see the Triumph compete against the BC Angels.

Having already qualified for a spot in the 2012 LFL Canada Lingerie Bowl, the BC Angels may not play their superstars for the entire contest. It is still vital for the Triumph to make an early impact in the contest. Running back Petshauna Pinnock has begun to emerge as the prime rushing threat for Toronto, while Jenny Butler complements her abilities as a secondary runner.

Pinnock will need to touch the ball at least 15 times in the contest, as ball control will be an essential factor in winning the battle in time of possession. With Katie Marshall (LFL Canada leader in sacks) and Jessica Hopkins (LFL Canada’s leading tackler) as the Angels' one-two punch on the defense, maintaining a ground attack will be the first step in hoping to upset the Angels.

Another aspect of the Triumph offense that needs to be considered is a more consistent passing game. Not one receiver for the Triumph has at least 10 receptions this season. While both teams in the upcoming match have had inconsistencies at the quarterback position, Toronto pivot Marife Villagonzalo will need to provide a mistake-free performance in hopes of winning.

With only two players on the Angels having logged interceptions this year, Villagonzalo should not be afraid to throw short passes with the objective to eat up minutes on the clock and exhaust the opposing defense.

A strong all-around defensive contribution should be another element in the contest. Only two members of the Triumph defense have a sack (Roxy Rowe and Alysha Emerson each have 0.5 sacks), while Jaleesa McCrary and Alicia Bell are the only Triumph players with an interception. Any effort in pressuring the quarterback will lead to mistakes on the part of BC.

If those mistakes lead to turnovers, it will expose BC’s weaknesses while improving Toronto’s opportunity to pull off the dramatic upset. The Triumph boasts a very good core group on their defense including Jaleesa McCrary, whose 21 tackles lead the team. She is joined by Davine Burton, Whitney Paronish (who appeared in Lingerie Bowl IX with the Philadelphia Passion) and Crystal Hall, who each have at least a dozen tackles.

The biggest factor for the Toronto defense will be to contain Stephanie Manou. Having established herself as the premier running back in LFL Canada, she is the Angels' franchise player and one of the league’s biggest stars.

In the Angels' loss to the Saskatoon Sirens on September 1, Manou had less than 50 yards rushing. Manou accounts for 88 percent of the Angels rushing productivity. If the Triumph can hold Manou to less than 50 yards, it would be a tremendous confidence booster for the defense corps.

Should the Triumph end their season with a win, it would help the team build momentum going into its third campaign. With popular personalities like Alicia Bell, Sylvie Manaigre and Tiffany Russell, along with a strong leader in Donna Paul, the 0-3 record is not a fair representation of a steadily improving club.

The first win for any franchise represents a significant milestone. Should that elusive win not materialize on October 27, the Triumph have provided their fans with a valiant effort. The desolation of one season can be the catalyst towards creating an upcoming season of jubilation.