Carnegie American Football team touchdown at number 1
The Opal Series is a non-contact flag football tournament which has both a North and South division and sees teams from around the country come together on four dates to battle it out on the field for the number one spot in the country.
On Saturday 25 October the Leeds Carnegie Women’s team hosted the first round of the northern tournament at our Headingley Campus. Teams from all over the north joined them to play three games each, followed by a final to secure their place in the leaders’ table.
After winning all three of their games, Leeds Carnegie took on Nottingham University to take first place in the first round of this year’s Opal North.
To kick off the day, Leeds took on Teeside Steelers. Leeds Carnegie’s newest squad member, defensive back Jo Mann, has recently made the move from Teeside after returning from competing in Spain at the European Championships with Great Britain, so this game was an extra special challenge. The final score was Leeds Carnegie 14 - Teeside Steelers 7, after seeing Olivia Dalby-Naylor and CJ Harrison score a touchdown each and Bo Steward take the two-point conversion.
In the second game of the day, Olivia and CJ picked up another touchdown each to give Leeds Carnegie a 12 – 0 victory over the East Kilbride Pirates.
Our University’s final game of the day was against Sheffield Hallam Women’s Warriors, with Leeds once again taking home the win. CJ Harrison and Olivia Dalby-Naylor added another touchdown each to their record and Bo Steward again picked up another two-point conversion. The final score was Leeds Carnegie 14 - Sheffield Hallam Women’s Warriors 7.
After being dubbed 'The Dark Horses' of the Opal Series 2014 in their rookie season, Leeds Carnegie had a lot to prove when they headed out on the field on Saturday and wanted to show that they'd grown stronger as a team.
Although they play flag football in the Opal Series, Leeds Carnegie are also a contact team and split their training between the two to also compete in the BAFA Sapphire Series. After winning all three games, Leeds took on Nottingham University in a challenging final. The final score was Leeds Carnegie 12 - Nottingham University 9, with Bo Steward picking up her first touchdown of the day and Olivia Dalby-Naylor finishing her day with a third touchdown.
Paul Wake, Head Coach of the Leeds Carnegie Women’s squad, said: "It was an encouraging start for us, but we have areas we need to work on. We were particularly encouraged by the new girls that really stepped up. It’s a long year, but good to know we're heading out in the right direction."
The first Most Valuable Player (MVP) award of the season went to defensive captain Emma Williamson. On receiving the award, she said: “First of all I was shocked - every single girl on that pitch played their heart out, and to me it would have been impossible to choose any one player who stood out over the rest. Secondly, I don't think of myself as a single player. Our defence is a pack and we share our success. If I'm playing well it's only because the rest of the girls are doing their jobs well too. Obviously I'm dead chuffed, I've never been most valuable anything before, so this is an awesome start to the season!”
The next round of the Opal Series North will be held on Saturday 7 November, and Leeds Carnegie will be fighting hard to keep their number one place on the leader board.
Leeds Carnegie Women's American Football was established in 2014 as Yorkshire’s first women’s American football team. They placed fifth in the country at the Sapphire Series in their rookie season and are the only club for women in West Yorkshire.
Over 30 women currently train with Leeds Carnegie – from the beginners kitting up for the first time, through to more advanced players, many of whom have been members of the club since its inception.
In July, team members CJ Harrison, Bo Steward and Jo Mann all played for Great Britain at the 2015 Women’s European Championships held in Maracena, Spain.