By Sean Trembath, The StarPhoenix
Saskatoon 64, Lethbridge 21
The Saskatoon Valkyries left no doubt about who deserved to be the 2012 champions of the Western Women's Canadian Football League (WWCFL). On Saturday, the Valkyries walloped the visiting Lethbridge Steel 64-21 in the WWCFL championship game at Griffiths Stadium, winning their second straight title and remaining undefeated over two years in the league.
"It feels awesome. We were hoping to play our best game today, and I think we did. We came out and we played as good as we needed to and then a little bit better," said Jessie Buydens, team captain of the Valkyries.
Coming into Saturday's game, the Steel were an unknown, with the two teams never having met. Lethbridge was also undefeated this year going into the title game.
Early in the championship game, it looked like the game might be much closer than it ended up being. The Valkyries scored early on a 12-yard run by Julie David to go up 7-0. Then on the ensuing Steel possession, Lethbridge marched the ball downfield with a slow, deliberate, confident drive, eventually tying the score on a seven-yard run by quarterback Becky Heninger.
On that opening drive, the Steel looked as good as any team has against the Valkyries this season. They used deceptive running plays and speed, especially from Heninger, to move the ball slowly but surely down the field.
"We were like, 'Whoa, there's going to be ball game here.' We stepped it up though. We're not a team that quits. We're ready for a challenge," said Valkyries defensive back Darla Lee Walde, who was named the game's outstanding defensive player.
The Valkyries tightened up on defence, not allowing another Steel touchdown until late in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Julie David was having the game of her life. She scored a total of six touchdowns, five as a rusher, one as a receiver, and ended up with a total of 277 yards. During the first half, the Steel's defence just could not stop her. David was named the game's MVP, but was all about the team as a whole during her post-game interview.
"It feels great. Honestly, I have never been a part of a team that has felt more like a family than a team. It feels so good to play for each other, and to come out with a win is just the icing on the cake," she said.
Other Valkyries scorers included Gillian Allen, who scored on a 27-yard run, Natasha Miller, who made a 22-yard catch on a perfect throw by Valkyries quarterback Candace Bloomquist, and Amber Buchholz, who caught a short pass and ran six yards for the score.
For Valkyries head coach Jeff Yausie, Saturday's win was the culmination of months of hard work by the team.
"Literally, this process started back in a gymnasium in February. When you put all that time and effort into it, it's really rewarding," he said.
The victory was made a little bit more special by having happened at home.
"To have it here, we had so many people. The biggest crowd we've had all year, and it was just amazing. Friends, family, everybody," said Buydens.