Sunday, 28 June 2015

Riot take conference title in epic clash

Last second field goal ends Valkyries' drive for five

Morgan Turner follows through on the Riot's  last second winning field goal.
    REGINA - For a short time, it appeared it would be a happy bus ride home for the Saskatoon Valkyries.
    The four time defending Western Women’s Canadian Football League champions looked to be on the verge of advancing to a fifth straight league title game. Thanks to an amazing fourth quarter rally, the Valkyries erased a 28-7 deficit to surge ahead of the Regina Riot 29-28 on a 25-yard touchdown run by Sam Matheson with 1:26 to play in regulation on Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.
    The Riot responded with a gutty final drive that ended when Morgan Turner kicked a 12 yard field goal with 15 seconds to play to give the hosts a 31-29 victory in the WWCFL’s Prairie Conference title game.
    Regina advances to the WWCFL final to face the Edmonton Storm this coming Saturday at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg. The Storm dumped the Calgary Rage in the Western Conference championship game 51-14 last Saturday.
    “It hurts to lose plain and simple,” said Valkyries head coach Jeff Yausie. “It hurts a little less when you lose to a good football team, and Regina is a very good football team.
    “We missed some opportunities in the first quarter with the wind, and didn’t score any points. We could have used those, and I think it might have been a different outcome.
    “We were down pretty significant. We found a way to fight back in the fourth quarter and take the lead. I am super proud of our girls.”
    The Valkyries had won every WWCFL title since the league’s inception in 2011. Entering Sunday’s game with the Riot, Saskatoon had won all 12 of its post-season games to date, which included eliminating the Riot from the playoffs in the Prairie Conference final in four consecutive years.
Sam Matheson runs in her fourth major of the game for the Valkyries.
    The Riot are the only team to have ever defeated the Valkyries with two victories coming in regular season play. The second of those wins came this season courtesy of a 49-9 blowout on May 30 at Saskatoon Minor Football Field.
    Quarterback Aimee Kowalski, who has been with the Riot since the start, was elated to finally get a post-season victory over the Valkyries.
    “We’ve been working towards it all season, and we have been wanting it for five years now,” said Kowalski. “It is nice to get it in our grasp and take it home.”
    Saskatoon had a couple of good chances to jump ahead at the start of the game, but Rienna Rueve hit the post on a 23 yard field goal attempt, and quarterback Stacey Boldt fumbled the ball away at the Riot 19 yard line.
    The Riot jumped ahead 7-0, when backup quarterback Sami Bray scored from a yard out on a quarterback sneak with two seconds to play in the first quarter. The lead grew to 16-0, when Kowalski hit Amanda Hungle on a 46-yard touchdown pass play, and Valkyries quarterback Stacey Boldt conceded a safety.
    Matheson scored on an eight-yard run to cut the gap to 16-7. Regina’s lead grew to 21-7 at halftime thanks to an 18 yard field goal by Turner and Boldt conceding another safety.
    Due to driving into a strong wind, Boldt conceded two more safeties in the third quarter, and Morgan kicked a 13-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to give Regina a 28-7 edge.
    When it looked like Regina was poised for victory, momentum swung totally Saskatoon’s way. Boldt hit veteran receiver Marci Kiselyk on a long pass play that helped set up an 18-yard touchdown run by Matheson. Boldt proceeded to find Kiselyk again on a two-point conversion toss that cut Regina’s lead to 28-15.
    With 3:31 to play, Matheson ran in a score from 28 yards out to trim the Riot lead to 28-22. Her final major gave the visitors a one-point lead and visions of an epic comeback win.
Riot receiver Claire Dore holds up the WWCFL Prairie Conference trophy.
    The Riot gutted their way downfield on their final drive thanks to some big runs by Kowalski and running back Carmen Agar, who both broke numerous tackles. That led to Turner’s winning kick.
    “We have a very young football team,” said Yausie. “Our best years are ahead of us. For us to show the heart to be able to comeback from 21 points says a lot to me.”
    On the Riot’s game-winning drive, Kowalski said everyone on her offensive unit had a part in making big runs happen for her side.
    “Our O-line did an amazing job blocking,” said Kowalski. “Agar and I, we just kind of have a chemistry like no other.
    “We were able to take it home. We had some huge blocks from the receivers. Everybody did their job just like we practiced.”

    If you have any comments about this blog post, feel free to email them to Check out images of the playoff clash between the Riot and Valkyries on Twitter @stankssports.