Saskatoon wins fifth WWCFL title in six years, bombs Storm
|The Valkyries celebrate their fifth WWCFL title win in six years.|
On Saturday at the University of Lethbridge Community Stadium, the Valkyries (7-1 overall) returned to the top of the Western Women’s Canadian Football League mountain top with an astounding 81-6 victory over the Storm (6-2 overall). With the win, the Valkyries claimed their fifth WWCFL championship in six years after losing to last year’s league champs the Regina Riot in the WWCFL Prairie Conference final.
Against the Storm on Saturday, the Valkyries had the wind at their backs for the first quarter and used that advantage to build a 30-0 edge. Saskatoon cruised to victory from that point.
“It feels awesome,” said Valkyries running back Julene Friesen. “It was a great game. It is nice to win by a lot and to feel like we had a great end to our season.
|Julene Friesen runs in a touchdown for the Valkyries.|
Friesen, who had an outstanding season for the Valkyries, book ended the scoring recording the game’s first touchdown on a 28 yard romp and the contest’s final major coming off an 82-yard kickoff return with 2:43 to play in the fourth quarter. She also had a 30-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter to account for three major scores overall.
In total, Friesen picked up 142 yards rushing on seven carries and 109 yards on three kickoff returns in being named the Valkyries player of the game. She admitted the kick return touchdown was her sweetest jaunt into the end zone.
“We’ve been talking about it all season,” said Friesen. “Finally to get it on the last return of the year was fun, even though I fumbled around with it a little bit.”
|Valkyries LB Beth Thomson (#2) sacks Storm QB Aria McGowan (#80).|
A strong effort by Saskatoon’s defence the kept Edmonton pinned in its own zone resulting in the Storm conceding a safety in the opening frame. Valkyries linebacker Beth Thomson, who has played for the club in all six years of its existence, had a big first quarter sack and returned an interception 33 yards in the second quarter to set up a 32-yard field goal by kicker Carly Dyck.
“I had the most fun out there today,” said Thomson. “That pic was awesome. I almost got it into the end zone, but maybe next year.”
Thomson also said the game couldn’t have gone any better for her squad, and she was elated about the latest title win.
“Every time you win the championship, you get that feeling of happiness,” said Thomson. “It is there again right now.
|Alyssa Wiebe (#13) had 111 yards receiving for the Valkyries.|
Some of the game’s loudest cheers were reserved for Dyck, who is a Lethbridge product. She played three seasons with her hometown Steel, when the Steel lost three straight WWCFL title games to the Valkyries from 2012 to 2014. She lived in Saskatoon for the last two of those campaigns and decided to remain in that centre year round and play for the Valkyries.
In the second quarter, Dyck hauled in her only catch on a streak pattern from quarterback Reed Thorstad, which went the distance for a 45-yard major score to delight her hometown supporters. Dyck was pumped that Valkyries offensive coordinator Chad Palmer was looking to dial up her number.
“Palmer was being real nice to me,” said Dyck. “He was like, ‘I want to get you a touchdown at home, so we are going to send you a long ball.’
“I was so happy. It was a nice reach out for me, a long run. There was nobody even close to me I felt anyway. I didn’t notice anybody.”
She was pumped to finally be on the winning side of a WWCFL championship game.
“It took five years for me to get this win, but it was better late than never,” said Dyck. “It was pretty exciting.”
|Carly Dyck hauls in a 45-yard TD reception for the Valkyries.|
Saskatoon led 54-0 at halftime.
The scoring slowed up a little in the third quarter. Saskatoon went ahead 59-0, when the Storm conceded another safety and Dyck nailed a 27-yard field goal attempt.
The Valkyries lead expanded to 74-0 in the fourth quarter thanks to a three-yard touchdown run by Samantha Matheson, a 31-yard missed field goal single by Dyck and 39-yard interception return score by defensive back Rienna Rueve.
Storm running back Brenna Bouchard snapped the shutout bid returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown after Rueve’s major to trim Saskatoon’s edge to 74-6. Friesen recorded her kickoff return touchdown after Bouchard found pay dirt.
|The Valkyries celebrate Rienna Rueve's interception return TD.|
Valkyries special teams coordinator Chris Hengen-Braun said Saturday’s win was a great capper to a special season.
“It feel pretty good,” said Hengen-Braun. “This is really a different team than we have had in the past.
“They did an amazing job coming together. We have a lot of really young girls. Over half of our team has never won one of these before, so it is really special for them.
“It was really cool to see a huge effort from many, many different players on offence and on defence. We had a bunch of players step up. It was just really cool to see a lot of these young players come out and be very effective on the field.”