Thursday, 4 June 2015

Valkyries in the news

Riot shock Valkyries with rout
By: Don Rice for The StarPhoenix, June 1, 2015

The game looked like so many previous ones for the Saskatoon Valkyries — a high powered offence and shutdown defence running up a lopsided triumph.

The surprise, for the Valkyries, was that it was their opponents racking up the massive victory on Saturday night.

The Regina Riot handed the host Valkyries a 49-9 thumping in Western Women’s Canadian Football League action at Saskatoon Minor Football Field. The setback marked just the second loss the four-time defending WWCFL champions have suffered in franchise history, and their first home defeat in 19 games.

The sheer size of the loss was the biggest surprise for the Valkyries. The 49 points the Valkyries surrendered were more than the 28 they allowed against all opponents combined last season. The Valkyries had been outscoring teams by an average of 44 points per game over the past two seasons.

Saskatoon Valkyries receiver Marci Kiselyk drops a pass as
Regina Riot defensive back Nikki Broom puts on the pressure.
Photo by: Liam Richards, The StarPhoenix
“Football is a game that will humble you in a hurry,” said Valkyries head coach Jeff Yausie. “(The Riot) got on a roll, and that’s what happens in football. We had chances at times to make plays and get back in the game, and we just didn’t make those plays.”

Carmen Agar dominated the ground for the Riot on Saturday, racking up 170 of her game high 270 rushing yards in the first half alone, helping Regina to a 28-9 halftime lead.

The Riot were the only team to defeat the Valkyries previously, winning a 15-7 defensive struggle on May 12, 2013, in Regina. The Riot played the Valkyries close in their last meeting two weeks ago, falling 28-19 at home.

“Last game we didn’t really get our run game going,” said Riot first-year head coach Shawn McCall. “Tonight, that made a huge difference. Carmen was finding the holes and going hard. Everybody was blocking hard. When we got the run game going, that just built for our defence and built for our offence to keep things going.”

The Valkyries were actually first to score, finishing off an impressive three-play opening drive with Samantha Matheson’s 29-yard touchdown run just 1:34 into the game.

Regina’s Alex Kowalski scored two first-half touchdowns on five- and 12-yard passes from Aimee Kowalski. Agar had touchdown runs of 15 and 30 yards. Sami Bray and Carly Kentz each scored on one-yard TD plunges, while Amanda Hungle hauled in a five-yard major. The Riot also surrendered a safety.

Kowalski’s second touchdown catch came on the final play of the first half, and was a back-breaker for the Valkyries. It came off a deflected pass in the end zone that bounced into Kowalski’s hands. Earlier in the half the Valkyries had what looked to be a sure touchdown pass bounce off one of the uprights.

“In football you need to face adversity,” Yausie said. “When you’re winning by 30, 40, 50 points like they did tonight, the game becomes easy — practice becomes easier. Now we’ve got a challenge in front of us and we have to step up to that challenge. It will remain to see if we can do that. I think we will. I know coaches are upset and we’re humbled. So we need to get back to the drawing board on the practice field. That’s all you can do. Focus on yourselves, make yourselves better.”

The Valkyries, now 2-1, complete their regular season on Sunday in Winnipeg against the Manitoba Fearless.

drice@thestarphoenix.com