Sunday, 4 June 2017

Riot rumbles home with final Taylor Field memory

Regina advances to WWCFL title game with 34-24 win

The Riot celebrate a touchdown reception from Alex Kowalski (#84).
    REGINA – Veteran Regina Riot defensive back Courtney Tafelmeyer didn’t want to literally drop the ball.
    On Sunday at old Mosaic Stadium/Taylor Field, the Riot were searching for an insurance blow to lock down victory against the visiting Saskatoon Valkyries in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League Prairie Conference championship game. With under four minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Riot held a 28-18 edge over the Valkyries, who entered the game as the defending WWCFL champions.
    While Regina had the lead, Saskatoon had the ball at midfield and was driving. On a broken play, Valkyries sophomore quarterback Alex Eyolfson was scrambling to avoid the pressure of the Riot defence and threw a pass to the right sideline right at Tafelmeyer.
Carmen Agar (#23) runs in the first of her two touchdowns on the day.
    Tafelmeyer cradled home the ball alone in the flat and zig zagged down the sideline picking up a number of key blocks returning her interception 62 yards for a major score. Her touchdown put the Riot up 34-18 with 3:41 to play in the frame. That proved to be the final key play that cemented what would ultimately be a 34-24 victory for the Riot.
    “I’ve dropped a couple this past season I knew this one needed to be in the hands,” said Tafelmeyer, who is in her sixth season with the Riot. “I knew catching this and running it in that was the end of the game.”
    After she made her pick, all Tafelmeyer forced on was running downfield as hard as she could.
    “It was just a hard run,” said Tafelmeyer. “I just saw straight. I didn’t know who was behind me.
The Riot defence gang tackles Valkyries RB Samantha Matheson.
  “I knew my team was coming hot to make big blocks. They were going to make sure that ball was getting in that end zone. I turned around and 11 reds were right behind me.
    “It was a sea of red right behind me. It was a great feeling.”
    Tafelmeyer’s key play helped cement a berth in the WWCFL title game for the second time in three years for the Riot and close out the final competitive tackle football game at the legendary stadium.
    The Riot, who are 5-1 overall, will face the Calgary Rage (4-0) on Saturday at Saskatoon Minor Football Field in Saskatoon in the WWCFL final at 8:30 p.m. The Riot won the WWCFL title in 2015.
The Riot defence corrals Valkyries receiver Alyssa Wiebe.
    Riot head coach Olivier Eddie thought it was fitting that his side’s defence made the key play in Sunday’s victory. During their first five games, the Riot posted three shutout wins and gave up a total of 27 points.
    Regina’s offence had stalled a bit gaining 99 net yards offence in the second half of Sunday’s game after piling up 310 yards of offence in the first half.
    “We needed our defence to step up,” said Eddie. “Sometimes, I don’t know who is smiling upon us, but we needed that big play. To score and bring it all the way, I think the defence really deserves it.
    “They’ve played so well all year. For them to get that score at the end, I think it is very well deserving. I am happy it is them that kind of sealed it for us.”
Aimee Kowalski completed 14 passes for 162 yards for the Riot.
    The Valkyries took a 3-0 late in the first quarter on a 13-yard field goal from Carly Dyck.
    The Riot scored a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 14-3 lead at halftime. Power back Carmen Agar muscled her way into the end zone on a three-yard touchdown run, and receiver Alex Kowalski hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from her sister and Riot quarterback Aimee Kowalski to account for Regina’s second quarter scoring.
    While the Riot piled up yards offensively, the Valkyries defence recovered a Regina fumble and forced two turnovers on downs to prevent any further first half scoring.
    The hosts pushed their lead out to 21-3 on a one-yard touchdown plunge by running back Mallory Starkey with 8:45 to play in the third quarter. That scoring drive was actually kept alive by getting a first down on a botched field goal attempt.
    On the botched field goal attempt, holder and veteran receiver Claire Dore chucked a desperate pass to kicker Morgan Turner, who gained 20 yards and a first down.
Alex Eyolfson (#15) throws one of her two TD passes for the Valkyries.
    After Starkey’s score, the Valkyries offence came to life. Before the third quarter ended, Eyolfson hit Beth Thomson and Carly Dyck with respective touchdown passes from 10 and 19 yards out to cut the Riot lead to 21-16.
    Agar scored her second major of the game with 10:30 to play in the fourth quarter to push the Riot lead out to 28-16. After being forced to punt deep in their own end a short time later, the Riot elected to concede a safety to hold a 28-18 edge with 6:43 to play in the fourth quarter.
    That set the stage for Tafelmeyer’s pick-six.
    Alex Kowalski was pumped her side could finally put the finishing touches on the win.
    “It feels so good,” said Kowalski, who had 40 yards receiving on two catches and 43 yards rushing on five carries. “The last half seemed so long, but it is a good ending.”
    Now in her fifth year with the Riot, Kowalski was pleased her side would head to another WWCFL title game.
Carly Dyck (#4) hauls in a 19-yard TD reception for the Valkyries.
    “It will be fun in Saskatoon,” said Kowalski. “They have a really nice field. It will be great.”
    The Valkyries still made things interesting in the final minute. They recovered a fumble from Aimee Kowalski at the Regina 10 yard line.
    Saskatoon power back Samantha Matheson ran in a score from two yards out with 15 seconds to play in what would be the final score of any type ever at Taylor Field to cut the Riot lead to 34-24. The Valkyries were unsuccessful in their ensuing two-point conversion try.
    Regina defensive back Karlie Jackson recovered an onside kick to snuff out any faint hope of Saskatoon rallying any further.
    Agar piled up 111 yards rushing on 13 carries and caught four passes for 50 yards to lead all Riot players in rushing and receiving.
The Riot celebrate their Prairie Conference championship win.
    Aimee Kowalski completed 14-of-24 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown.
    Eyolfson completed 14-of-39 passes for 158 yards, two touchdowns and one interception as the Valkyries fell to 4-2 overall.
    Alyssa Wiebe caught six passes for 86 yards, and Matheson ran the ball 13 times for 75 yards.
    The Valkyries will play a WWCFL consolation final this coming Saturday at Saskatoon Minor Football Field against the Edmonton Storm, who were 2-3 overall, at 5:15 p.m.
    While the Riot will turn their attention to capturing their second WWCFL title in team history, Eddie said it was important for his group to get past the Valkyries.
The Riot hoist the Prairie Conference championship trophy.
    In the WWCFL’s seven years of existence, the Riot and Valkyries have met in the Prairie Conference final in every season, and Saskatoon still holds a 5-2 edge in those contests even after the result of Sunday’s game.
    “We’re overwhelmed with emotion,” said Eddie. “You can just see it in their face right now.
    “They’ve worked for this, and they’ve earned it. I’m just extremely proud of our group of athletes.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to