Will Rice denies Wiess of Powderpuff championship repeat
Wiess College sophomore wide receiver Dori Olson runs with the ball in the Powderpuff championship game Nov. 18. Will Rice College narrowly defeated Wiess 7-0, preventing Wiess from winning their second straight championship.
Kathleen Ortiz / Thresher
The Intramural Powderpuff tournament came to an exciting end Nov. 18 as Will Rice College defeated Wiess College 7-0, scoring with barely a minute left in the championship game.
Will Rice’s powderpuff team, 3-2 going into the final, was the clear underdog against a 5-0 Wiess team attempting to repeat their 2022 championship. This year, though, the Phoenixes were determined to beat the team that knocked them out in the semifinal round last year.
“Coming into the season Wiess was definitely on our radar as the other team to look out for,” Kaitlyn Keyes, a Will Rice junior and powderpuff co-captain, said. “We always knew that if we did make it to the championship there was a good chance that they would be here or another team of their caliber, so having that good ‘enemy’ really helped our motivation.”
The sidelines were full of spectators, coaches and players for the entire 40-minute game. Fans came to the intramural championship equipped with cymbals, horns, the Will Rice flag and posters to cheer on their peers. While the intensity was high, both the Will Rice and Wiess defense were on lockdown as they went into halftime tied.
“It’s stressful whenever you see your team going back and forth in a tightly contested game, but the girls are fantastic,” Tom Nitao, a Will Rice junior and powderpuff coach, said. “They’ve played for each other all year and we’ve had a lot of faith. We’ve been down before and I’ve seen my girls fight out of a lot of tough situations, so coming out of the half we were confident.”
Nitao said that, by halftime, the team knew what Wiess was doing on defense and adjusted to combat it. The teams remained in a stalemate for most of the second half but as time was winding down, Will Rice went on an offensive run led by senior co-captain and quarterback Chloe Kinnebrew that put them in a golden opportunity to score.
“[Kinnebrew] has been the engine of our offense and the heart and soul of this team,” Nitao said. “She gets everybody together and it showed, because we were tied at half. To see her keep a composure, come out there and play a spectacular half, I couldn’t be prouder of her, couldn’t be prouder of the team.”
Kinnebrew connected with Will Rice freshman Adah Spain right outside the endzone. From around the one yard line, Kinnebrew secured the touchdown with a throw to Keyes, who also received the extra point pass with less than a minute and a half remaining in the game.
“We just really wanted to win and we wanted to play well,” Kinnebrew said. “It sucks when you don’t play your best game at the end of the year. We really wanted to just play hard today and Wiess played really hard. It was so hard to score on them, but all it takes is one touchdown.”
After the Will Rice touchdown, Wiess quickly attempted to counter with another touchdown in hopes of sending the game into overtime. Their last play started with three seconds on the clock, but an incomplete pass into the endzone clinched the victory for the Phoenixes. Will Rice had won their rematch, and Wiess had lost their season-long attempt for a repeat championship and an undefeated season.
“[Watching Kinnebrew win] was honestly the best part because we’ve come so close the last two years,” Keyes said. “We kept losing in the semifinals, so being able to see [Kinnebrew] get the victory in her senior year was really just the cherry on top and just my favorite part about winning.”
As for Kinnebrew, this game was a build-up of all her time at Rice. As the only senior of Will Rice’s powderpuff team, she watched the team go from no season during her freshman year due to COVID-19 to two semifinal appearances and now to a championship.
“Will Rice used to be a place where powderpuff was at,” Nitao said. “It was before I was here, but I used to hear like 30, 40, 50 girls would come out per year. We were hoping to claim that part of our culture back. Of course, Wiess is a great team, lots of respect to them, but we’re very excited to be here in this spot, and we’re ready to get back there next year.”
More from The Rice Thresher
Over the weekend, Rice Baseball secured a series win on the road against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, capturing victories on Feb. 23 and Feb. 24 with scores of 2-1 and 6-1, respectively. However, their quest for a sweep fell short as they suffered a 3-0 loss on Sunday afternoon.
The Rice women’s basketball team, which spent much of this season soaring near the top of the American Athletic Conference standings, extended their losing streak to a season-high three games on Sunday afternoon. In a battle of the Owls, Rice fell to Temple University, 75-66.