Saskatoon Valkyries defend title

Valkyries #2 Beth Thomson takes down an opponent.

The Saskatoon Valkyries were presented with the Western Women’s Canadian Football League championship trophy for the second straight year Saturday after they crushed the visiting Lethbridge Steel 64-21 in the league final at Griffiths Stadium.

It was also the second straight year Valkyries head coach Jeff Yausie received a gatorade shower from his players.

“Any season that you win the last game of the year is an awesome season. We started this process back in February practicing in a gymnasium and after all that time and effort it’s really rewarding,” Yausie said.

“Winning at home feels great. We practice here every week, and now winning in front of our friends and families feels really good,” Valkyries running back Julie David added.

The level of excitement coming into Saturday’s championship match-up between the Valkyries and the Steel was high due to both teams sporting perfect winning records in the regular season.

Fans’ anticipation for a close game was initially fueled by the teams swapping touchdowns on each of their opening drives. The excitement was short lived, however, as the Valkyries quickly took the reigns for the remainder of the game.

Leading the surge was David, who displayed dominating speed and a strong ability to find holes, scoring Saskatoon`s first six touchdowns, including a 51-yard catch-and-run score. The second-year back tallied 277 yards of total offence and was responsible for over half of her team’s points in the biggest game of her career.

“I feel good about it, but at the same time there is not a chance I could have done it without the rest of my team,” David said. “We’re such a close team and every play we play is for each other.”

The Valkyries defence, without veteran defensive back Katie Miyazaki in the lineup, restricted the Steel offence to only 75 total passing yards, forced four fumbles and collected three interceptions.

Miyazaki was forced to watch the championship game from the sidelines due to a concussion she suffered in the Prairie Conference Final last week against Regina.

“It`s disappointing [not playing] because a concussion is the only injury that could have kept me out of this game,” Miyazaki said after the game, adding that she was glad to see her teammates play so well.

“I had faith in the rest of my team. I knew they were going to do their jobs and it showed. It’s very exciting for us.”

In the second half of the game the Valkyries found success through the air. Quarterback Candace Bloomquist threw for two touchdowns, hooking up with receiver Natasha Miller for a 22-yard score as well as receiver Amber Buchholz, who picked up six yards after the catch for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

The Steel struggled to move the ball on offence following their opening drive. Their most success came when quarterback Becky Heninger scrambled and ran the ball to the outside. Heninger picked up two of the Steel’s touchdowns on the ground and compiled 110 rushing yards in the game.

Running back Becky Pater was the only other Lethbridge player to put points on the board as she battled her way into the endzone on a short rushing touchdown late in the third quarter.


Photo: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf