Friday, 2 June 2017

Valkyries and Riot to write Taylor Field's final chapter

WWCFL rivals clash for conference title at historic stadium

Samantha Matheson (#22) tears downfield for the Valkyries in 2015.
    Taylor Field will have its final swan song, and the newest participants in the football rivalry between Saskatoon and Regina will have the honour of closing the historic facility out.
    On Sunday at 1 p.m., old or historic Mosaic Stadium in Regina will play host to its final competitive tackle football game as the Regina Riot host the Saskatoon Valkyries in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League’s Prairie Conference championship game.
    The two clubs are meeting in the Prairie Conference final for a seventh straight year, and the Valkyries enter the contest as defending league champions. Both teams have identical 4-1 overall records so far this season.
    The winner advances to play the Calgary Rage in the WWCFL title game to be held on June 10 at Saskatoon Minor Football Field in Saskatoon.
    Known as Taylor Field for most of its existence, almost all of the major tenants have shuffled out of historic Mosaic Stadium, which is best remembered as the home of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. 
Morgan Turner boots a Prairie Conference winning field goal for the Riot.
    The Roughriders bid farewell to the facility in their final regular season game of the 2016 campaign falling 24-6 to the B.C. Lions on Oct. 29 of that year.
    The University of Regina Rams were thought to have the final football game at Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium, when they dropped a Canada West Conference semifinal match 40-34 to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Nov. 5, 2016.
    With the first football clash at new Mosaic Stadium in 2017 being reserved for a Roughriders exhibition contest on June 10 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Riot decided to give the old Mosaic Stadium a final bow. 
Kelsey Murphy (#85) jets up field for the Valkyries in 2016.
    Outside of Riot games, Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium is still being used for various other minor sports functions before eventually being decommissioned. 
    The Riot are the last major tenant to still call that park home.
    While all sorts of football teams and sports groups have taken nostalgia trips at Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium since the start of 2016, it just seems right that a conference title will be decided in the final competitive tackle football game held there. 
    As a bonus, it will also showcase the Saskatoon versus Regina rivalry.
Aimee Kowalski (#22) slings a pass downfield in 2015.
    Starting in 2011, the WWCFL is still a very young circuit, but the Valkyries and Riot have carved out their history of memorable clashes at the storied park in Saskatchewan’s capital city.
    After opening their existence with 12 straight wins, the Valkyries suffered their first loss in team history at Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium falling 15-7 to the Riot on May 12, 2013. The Riot ultimately hosted that year’s Prairie Conference championship game, which the Valkyries claimed 55-27 on June 9, 2013. 
    Saskatoon moved on to claim a third straight WWCFL title downing the Lethbridge Steel 27-13 at Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium on June 15 of that year.
    The most epic clash between the Valkyries and Riot at Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium occurred in the Prairie Conference championship game on June 28, 2015. 
Beth Thomson (#2) makes a tackle for the Valkyries in 2015.
    The Riot slowly built a 28-7 edge early in the fourth quarter of that contest before the Valkyries stormed back.
    With a strong wind at their backs, the Valkyries scored 22 consecutive points to go ahead 29-28 with 1:26 to play in regulation. Valkyries power running back Samantha Matheson ran home major scores from 15, 28 and 25 yards out in the rally.
    The Riot didn’t fold. Powered by running back Carmen Agar and quarterback Aimee Kowalski along the ground, the Riot moved into position to score.
    With 15 seconds left to play, Morgan Turner kicked a 12-yard field goal to give the Riot a 31-29 victory. Regina advanced on to win that year’s WWCFL title game held in Winnipeg.
Carmen Agar (#23) rumbles downfield in 2015.
    Regina took another epic clash between the two rivals on May 29, 2016 at the historic park. With 2:10 to play in the fourth quarter, Turner booted the winning field goal from 21 yards out to give the Riot a 27-26 win over the Valkyries.
    Saskatoon claimed the regular season clash between the two rivals in the current campaign in thrilling fashion at the venerable park. On May 21, sophomore quarterback Alex Eyolfson hit veteran receiver Kelsey Murphy with an eight-yard touchdown toss with seven seconds remaining on the clock to give the Valkyries a 20-17 victory over the Riot.
    In the upcoming final clash at Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium between these two squads, both sides will field their respective standouts. The Valkyries with have Eyolfson, Matheson, Murphy and standout receivers Carly Dyck and Alyssa Wiebe in the fold.
    The Riot will counter with Kowalski, Agar, Turner, running back Mallory Starkey and sure handed receivers Jenna Koller and Margo Anderson.
    It feels like one last epic clash will be had and one more memory will be made.

Nostalgia for Taylor Field

The Roughriders celebrate a Weston Dressler touchdown in 2012.
    For about the last 14 months, I have crafted a few nostalgia pieces with regards to Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium.
    As that facility has been at the heart of Saskatchewan’s football culture during its life, it seems like everyone in the province has good memories associated with that place. With the Valkyries and Riot set to play the final competitive tackle football game at that famed facility, I figured I would share three of the nostalgia pieces I wrote last year about the place.
    The first piece lists my top 10 memories at Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium. That piece can be found right here.
    The second piece focuses around what my thoughts would be driving out to the last Roughriders game there. That piece can be found right here.
    The third piece centres on the final Roughriders game at the historic stadium. That piece can be found right here.

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