Plum graduate Ferragonio helps Team USA to IFAF world title
Lauren Ferragonio has been up and down the road with Lisa Horton and Angela Baker the past five years as members of the Pittsburgh Passion women's football team.
The three gridiron standouts also recently put on a different colored uniform than their usual black and gold of the Passion.
For three games , Ferragonio, Horton and Baker also donned the Red, White and Blue of Team USA for the International Federation of American Football's Women's World Championships Langley, British Columbia, Canada.
The U.S. captured its third gold medal in as many tournaments with a 41-16 victory over Canada on June 30, and Ferragonio, a Plum graduate and five-year Passion veteran, was in the mix as a starting offensive lineman.
The experience, she said, was one she will never forget.
“From what everyone said who had played before, the competition has really improved overall,” Ferragonio said.
“It was awesome to have both Lisa and Angela there. It was nice to share those winning moments with two of my closest teammates.”
The U.S. captured the gold medal at the first IFAF Women's World Championship in 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden. There were six teams at that tournament.
The Americans prevailed again in 2013 when the competition came to Vantaa, Finland.
This year's tournament featured a newcomer in Team Mexico.
The U.S. faced Mexico in the first round and scored a 29-0 victory.
“Mexico had the most disciplined defense I've personally ever gone against,” Ferragonio said.
“Every player swarmed to the ball as soon as we threw it or ran it. I was thoroughly impressed with their level of play. We had to earn every point.”
Australia, Finland and Great Britain also fielded teams.
As expected, the U.S. and Canada faced off in the championship game. Ferragonio said the final score was not indicative of the hard-fought battle between the countries.
“Canada is very smart when it comes to American football,” she said. “They have several leagues up there, and they have a team in the league we play in. I really didn't know what to expect from that game. I had a good feeling before the game that we were going to come out on top, but I didn't know what the score was going to be.”
Ferragonio was one of 40 players on the Team USA roster selected from more than 150 who tried out in February during NFL Pro Bowl week at the ESPN Sports Complex. Eighteen of the top women's semipro teams in the country were represented.
Rivals during regular-season league play became teammates and friends during the week of competition in Canada.
“I knew quite a few of them from going to the (USA Football) Women's World Games and player camp,” Ferragonio said. “(The Passion) also played those teams the last five years. You really get to know them from that. The others I had at least heard of before we played together.”
Ferragonio said from arriving for the first team practice to hoisting the championship trophy and putting the medals around their necks, it was a whirlwind for every member of Team USA.
“Everything was so amazing,” she said. “You come together as a team and only have so much time to prepare and create team chemistry. Winning games and taking home a gold medal is nice, but the laughs shared and the bonding off the field was extra special.”
The Passion saw their 2017 season come to an end with a playoff loss just before the IFAF tournament. But Ferragonio and the Passion are already looking to 2018. Tryouts for next spring's squad will be in late August.
“After the tryouts, we will get our offseason work going,” Ferragonio said. “We are building that foundation for next year. We don't want to waste any time.”
The Passion also will host the Women's Football Alliance championship game, set for July 22 at Highmark Stadium.