San Diego Surge women’s semipro football playing like champions

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Showing the desire to return their 2012 form when capturing a national championship, the San Diego Surge women’s semipro football team opened the season with mirror-like results, thrashing the visiting Las Vegas Showgirlz, 59-6, Saturday at Santee Community Stadium.

There are important differences that could make this year’s edition of the Surge as their best to fate.

Showing the desire to return their 2012 form when capturing a national championship, the San Diego Surge women’s semipro football team opened the season with mirror-like results, thrashing the visiting Las Vegas Showgirlz, 59-6, Saturday at Santee Community Stadium.

There are important differences that could make this year’s edition of the Surge as their best to fate.

“After we won the championship, a lot of the girls retired and found other things to do with their lives,” said Jessica Martin, the starting middle linebacker and team’s top tackler. “Some of them are back, so we’re a veteran team, but we also have a lot of young blood that is just as talented.”

Among the veterans is nose guard Tanya Pa’aluhi, who returns following a season with the Los Angeles Pacific Warriors. The native of Redondo Beach is in her sixth season of playing football when not involved in other sports.

“I came back to San Diego because my MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) trainer is in San Diego,” said Pa’aluhi, 38, who has a son that also plays football. “Because of the strong mix of players on the Surge, we can get back to our 2012 level.”

Leading 6-0, Martin and Pa’aluhi combined on a tackle to complete a goal-line stand to keep Las Vegas out of the end zone early on.

From there, big plays included an interception for a touchdown, another pick which was runback to the 2-yard line, while a 74-yard punt return was called back on a penalty.

On offense, Michelle Gallegos returns for her fourth season as Surge quarterback.

Against the Showgirlz, she tossed four touchdown passes in the first half en route to a 40-0 lead at the break. Two of Gallegos’ scoring strikes went to veteran receiver Kaycee Clark.

However, the offensive attack is more balanced thanks to first-year running back Alexis Snyder. On her debut run from scrimmage, Snyder made quick spins to avoid tacklers then rumbled 47 yards and a score.

Not a bad way to open a career.

“A lot of our players decided to try other things, but many are back,” said head coach Will Harris. “Those players are willing to share with the new players, so everything is quickly coming together.”

Whipping Las Vegas was significant since the Surge entered the game without a scrimmage, while the Showgirlz were in their first game following a pair of live scrimmages.

“We have just as much talent and desire as 2012, so we hope to do extremely well,” said Martin.

The Surge success began in 211 as national runners-up, then they won the WFA title against Chicago in a game held at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Last year, they fell in the Pacific Region final to the Central Cal War Angels, based in Fresno.

The 2014 Alliance Bowl (the women’s equivalent to the Super Bowl) will be held in Chicago on August 3.

The Surge are on the road for two weeks, returning to town for an April 26 game against division rival West Coast Lightning. Kickoff is at 5:30 p.m.

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