"Keystone Assault women's football team prepares to begin ninth season"

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The Keystone Assault women’s semipro football team, which includes members from the Harrisburg area and beyond, begins practice next month as it prepares for its ninth season in 2017.

The squad, which plays an eight-game schedule in the Women’s Football Alliance, uses Lower Dauphin Middle School in Hummelstown for its four home games.

According to the mission statement on its website, the alliance, begun in 2007, “was designed to create the largest and most competitive women’s tackle football league in the world.”

“Women’s tackle football teams and leagues have been in existence for over four decades, but the most promising growth in the sport — both in the number of teams and in the level of competition — has taken place over the last five years,” the website explains, crediting its nonprofit model and lower franchise fees.

Factoring in playoffs, the WFA’s season runs from April to July.

Last year, there were 43 franchises total in two conferences — the American and the National.

The Keystone Assault played in the National Conference’s Northeast Region Colonial Division with the DC Divas, Boston Renegades, Philadelphia Phantomz and Richmond Black Widows.

Rachel Fischer, a Lancaster County native who lives in Harrisburg, is a former quarterback for the Assault who’s now the team’s offensive coordinator.

She said in an email that minicamp tryouts are over but there will be open practices in which nonteam members can watch or even participate. Times and locations will be announced on the website keystoneassault.net or the team’s Facebook page.

The Keystone Assault was founded in 2008, and has played four seasons in the Women’s Football League, going 4-4 in 2009, 6-2 in 2010, 3-5 in 2011 and 1-7 in 2016.

For three seasons, the club competed in the Independent Women’s Football League, compiling records of 7-1 in 2012 and 2013 and 8-0 in 2014.

Then in 2015, the Assault moved to the Women Spring Football League and went 8-0, capturing the league championship, before returning to the WFA for the 2016 season.

Fischer, who also has a background in softball, volleyball and basketball, said in her email that the alliance uses NCAA rules “with a few modifications,” including optional clear or tinted eye shields for players.

She wrote that the Assault’s roster is mostly made up of women from the Harrisburg region “but we do have some that travel about an hour out to get to practices.”

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