Coach Mike Famiglietti‘s top priority was for his Kansas Wesleyan women’s flag football team to win the game – the inaugural game since the university added the sport in May 2020.
Ottawa spoiled the Coyotes’ debut, though, winning 38-6 Sunday afternoon at Graves Family Sports Complex.
But Famiglietti and assistant coach Valerie Ochoa were far from distraught with what transpired. There were several things to like, and they saw plenty they feel they can build on as they work to construct the program.
“It’s definitely baby steps,” Famiglietti said afterwards. “We’ve got a long season ahead of us but there’s a lot of excitement and I think there’s a ton of things to build off of.
“I know there are going to be things our ladies are going to be disappointed about but there are things to be excited about. We executed against another team in a competitive setting, and we made them earn everything. I think our defense really stepped and did a phenomenal job against a team that has reputation for scoring points.”
Ottawa, which is in its inaugural season as well, routed Milligan University 84-0 in its opener a week earlier.
“Offense, I think, took a lot of steps forward, too, we learned a lot of things,” Famiglietti said. “We just can’t have those turnovers (two interceptions).”
Famiglietti, who’s also offensive coordinator for the KWU football team, said just getting his team into a game situation against someone other than themselves was crucial.
“Getting under the lights and knowing how big a deal this was but I don’t think that affected them in a negative way,” he said. “We’ve had scrimmages where we could re-do a play but now you get one shot at everything. They did a great job handling that pressure. They were very positive, and we were a team the whole way.”
The highlight of the day came late in the first quarter when quarterback Sabrina Saldate found Marisa Rubino open over the middle. Rubino caught the ball and outran several Ottawa defenders for a 52-yard touchdown for the first points in program history.
“That was the game right there,” Famiglietti said. “We scored that touchdown and (Ottawa) woke up a little bit and said, ‘oh wow they’re going to challenge us.’ For our players that was a huge moment of confidence to make that big play.
“Marisa’s one of our leaders, someone who has experience. She jumped up and attacked the ball in the air and turned up and went downfield. I think that connection she has with our quarterback is huge, too.”
Saldate was 15 for 32 passing for 162 yards in her first collegiate competition. Rubino caught five passes for 69 yards.
KWU’s defense had some moments as well. The Coyotes recorded three sacks, two by Brianna Hernandez-Silva, and they held Ottawa on downs twice deep in their territory, both at the 6-yard line.
Ottawa led 12-6 after one quarter and 19-6 at halftime. The Braves added two touchdowns in the third quarter and led 32-6 going into the fourth quarter.
Braves’ quarterback Madysen Carrera, a freshman from Tampa, Fla., was 14 of 26 passing for 222 yards and five touchdowns and rushed 11 times for 84 yards. Ottawa’s defense sacked Saldate six times.
The Coyotes play the University of Florida Club Team at 1 p.m. on March 7 in Ottawa in their next game and face Ottawa again at 1 p.m. March 12 in Ottawa. The next home game is against Xavier March 14 at GFSC.