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Renegades capture Women’s Football Alliance championship

The Boston Renegades went back-to-back, securing their second consecutive Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) national championship against the Cali War with a 52-24 win on July 13 in Colorado.

Acton resident Sarah Tully, a native of Chelmsford, is a member of the team. Tully went 5 for 6 on extra point kicks, and also pulled in an 11-yard reception on offense.

While Boston (10-0) was a strong favorite, the game had an unexpected start, with the Renegades falling behind 12-3 early in the second quarter, which was the only time they have trailed a team all season. With 174 yards and two touchdowns on 32 rushing attempts, All-America running back Ruth Matta claimed the game’s MVP award. She also caught three passes for 95 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown reception. Her 35 touches established the high mark of Matta’s involvement in any game this season.

Matta saw her role in Boston’s offense transition from change-of-pace back to workhorse after Angelica Pascual was sidelined by injury late in the regular season. The British import, who previously won six UK national titles with the Birmingham (England) Lions, compiled 1,327 all-purpose yards and 20 total touchdowns over 10 games and established herself as a dominant player on both sides of the Atlantic.

Matta’s electrifying arrival in the states gave cover to quarterback Allison Cahill’s most prolific season ever. This season, Cahill has set personal records in passing yards (2664) and passing touchdowns (46), as well as passing yards per game (266) and passing touchdowns per game (4.6). She also finished with career second-bests in completion percentage (64.2) and TD-INT ratio (5.11), in addition to notching her third-highest quarterback rating (125.24) of her 16-year career.

Cahill led the league this season in pass attempts, pass completions, and passing touchdowns, and was recognized with the 2019 National Conference MVP Award. In the championship game, she passed for 289 yards and five touchdowns.

Veteran wide receiver Adrienne Smith also made a strong statement in the championship game. Despite having a fairly quiet regular season (26/283/4) as she worked her way back from a year-long hiatus, Smith remains a clutch performer, having amassed 88 yards and three scores on four catches.

Greater still, the timing of her scoring plays cemented her reputation as a game changer. Smith pulled in the Renegades’ first touchdown of the game when Boston faced a nine-point deficit. Her second touchdown helped erase Cali’s lead and swing the momentum of the game. And her spectacular 46-yard touchdown reception in the final quarter slammed the door on the War for good.

Newcomer Vanessa Goh also contributed perhaps her best game of the season. She kicked a 26-yard field goal and three touchbacks, and also collected four combined tackles, including two for a loss. Goh joined Boston this year after starting her career in tackle with the Los Angeles Bobcats in 2017.

On the defensive side of the ball, Boston’s aggressive play at the line of scrimmage stuffed Cali’s run game. Thirteen of the War’s 17 rushing attempts resulted in zero yards or fewer. While they managed to score once on the ground, Cali’s total rushing output was -4 yards. Most of the damage made by the War came on big chunk plays in the passing game to tight end Jamie Robinson and wide receiver Lisa King, and on shovel passes to Kielyn Wilson, who was Cali’s top scorer in the game.

Cali quarterback Chantel Wiggins finished with 333 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Rookie defensive back Andrea Fullmore lead the Renegades with six tackles. Goh, Brooke Gause, Danielle Fournier, Spring Gamble, Allie Genereux, Erin Diette, Penny Fagnani, and rookie Jessica Hayden accounted for Boston’s tackles for loss. Hayden also recovered a fumble that helped set up a Renegades scoring opportunity in the third quarter.

Matta rushed for her second touchdown, giving Boston a commanding 21-point lead. For Renegades captain Brooke Goodman, this was the epitome of a statement win. “You can either achieve greatness or you can define it. This season we did the latter.”

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