Friday, 5 July 2019

Matheson cherishes MVP season with Valkyries, ready for curtain call game against Blitz

Sam Matheson had an MVP comeback campaign for the Valkyries.
    Sam Matheson is the Emmitt Smith of the Saskatoon Valkyries.
    When she returned after a year off to play her fifth season as a running back, it was a big boost for the powerhouse WWCFL team. Her playing style mirrors that of the retired Football Hall-of-Fame running back from the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys in Smith.
    Matheson runs tough between the tackles and is a deadly pass catcher out of the backfield. She sat out the 2018 campaign to allow her body to heal from various injuries.
Sam Matheson (#22) powers her way to a touchdown.
    The 24-year-old was named the Valkyries most valuable player for the 2019 season. She played a key role in helping the club post an 8-0 overall record.
    The Valkyries won the Western Women’s Canadian Football League title 25-3 over the host Regina Riot last Saturday at Mosaic Stadium. In that contest, Matheson ran the ball 21 times for 176 yards and scored two touchdowns.
    “Honesty coming into this year, I really didn’t know what to expect (after) a year off,” said Matheson. “My body definitely felt better than it had in previous years.
    “I felt coming into the first game I was a little lost as to how to play again. I think I quickly found my footing, and it turned out to be such a fun year.”
    It was a fun year, but it was challenging season too in an unforeseen way. On June 1, Valkyries defensive position coach Justin Filteau passed away tragically in a plane crash a day before the squad’s final regular season game.
Sam Matheson, left, ran for 176 yards in the WWCFL title game.
    The Valkyries dedicated their season to Filteau and proceeded to win the WWCFL title. Matheson helped the Valkyries win WWCFL titles in 2014 and 2016 and noted this year’s win was obviously the most unique.
    “I know it was a very hard year for our team considering the circumstances, but it brought us all together so much closer,” said Matheson. “It made winning the championship so much more special this year.”
    With the WWCFL championship trophy in their hands, Matheson and the Valkyries are set to take the field for a curtain call to close the 2019 campaign. On Saturday, they host the Montreal Blitz at 1 p.m. in an exhibition contest at Saskatoon Minor Football Field.
Sam Matheson (#22) is congratulated after a touchdown run.
    The Blitz were formed in 2001, and they have played mainly out of leagues based in the United States. In 2012, the Blitz defeated the Sacramento Sirens 28-27 in the championship game in the top tier of the Independent Women’s Football League.
    The Blitz are playing various Canadian teams in exhibition contests this season.
    Montreal’s roster contains star quarterback Maude Lacasse and Emilie Belanger, who plays running back and linebacker. Belanger was a member of Riot when they won the WWCFL title in 2017.
    Matheson knows some of Montreal’s players having played against them as a member of Saskatchewan’s provincial team and with them as a member of Canada’s national women’s tackle football team.
Maude Lacasse is one of the stars of the Blitz.
    “I think it will be really fun,” said Matheson. “I think this is a really good opportunity for them to come together, and it is a really good opportunity for us too.
    “I know that those girls are amazing players, and I’m so excited to have some really hard competition tomorrow.”
    Following the win in the WWCFL title game, Matheson didn’t expect to be named her team’s MVP for the season during the post-game festivities. She took the honour as a nice bonus.
    “I think in the off-season I did work pretty hard,” said Matheson. “Coming back into this year, I knew my body was in pretty tip top shape.
    “It has been better than it has been in previous years.”
    Valkyries head coach Pat Barry said it was big to have Matheson back on the team. He was impressed with how well she played in her comeback season.
    “She’s a dynamic player,” said Barry. “She’s someone that I am very proud of.
    “She’s an explosive athlete, a Team Canada member. I’m so pleased she is on our team.”
    The sideline boss is looking forward to seeing how his team matches up against the Blitz. As this is an exhibition game, five members of the Riot are joining the Valkyries for this one contest.
Sam Matheson (#22) was happy to celebrate her third WWCFL title win.
    Barry believes the exhibition clash will provide a good memory for everyone who is involved with the contest.
    “It is a unique experience,” said Barry. “They are not normally in Saskatchewan, and we don’t normally host them.
    “It is a really unique experience, and we’re proud to host them here at this great facility here at SMF Field.”

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