Team Saskatchewan captures gold at Women’s National Championship

Staking their claim as the hub of elite women’s football in Canada, the province of Saskatchewan not only boasts the only two champions in WWCFL history (Regina Riot – one, Saskatoon Valkyries – four), the province has captured its first-ever Canadian national championship. As the event serves as an opportunity for the Canadian national team to scout and evaluate talent, it is highly probable that the proud province shall provide many members of Canada’s roster in search of gold at the 2017 IFAF Women’s World Football Championships.

Serving as the home province, Team Saskatchewan did not disappoint in its opening match, a 58-0 whitewash of New Brunswick. Facing off against defending champion Quebec in the gold medal game (La Belle Province captured the inaugural women’s national title back in 2012), home field advantage quickly worked in Saskatchewan’s favor.

Running back Samantha Matheson, who captured a 2016 WWCFL title with her mother and sister as teammates on the Saskatoon Valkyries, scored the first touchdown of the game, setting the tone for a dominant quarter to come. After wide receiver Carly Dyck, who also pulls double duty as Saskatchewan’s kicker, logged an extra point and a rouge for the 8-0 lead, the defense would stymie Team Quebec’s offense.

With the opportunity to add to their lead, Saskatchewan did not disappoint, as Matheson logged her second rushing touchdown of the game, making a strong case to become one of Canada’s possible running backs for 2017. The extra point by Dyck placed Quebec in a 15-point deficit as the first period expired.

In the second quarter, Dyck added to her own cause, logging the first receiving touchdown of the game. Also kicking the extra point, Dyck had already provided 10 points of offense. With Saskatchewan adding to the lead with an ensuing safety, the score was 24-0 with less than four minutes remaining.

Coincidentally, Team Quebec would reply with their own safety, as the scoreboard reflected a 24-2 lead at halftime. Looking to rebound after such a frustrating first half, Quebec would reply with two consecutive touchdowns.

Montreal Blitz wide receiver Annabelle Chevrier would log the first touchdown of the game for Team Quebec at the 9:24 mark of the third. Another receiving touchdown by Team Quebec, this one scored by Rose-Amelie Brunet resulted in a ten-point deficit, slowly chipping away at what appeared to be an insurmountable lead. Before the third would expire, Maude Lacasse had a rouge, as Team Quebec enjoyed a solid 13 point performance.

Carmen Agar would add to Saskatchewan’s lead with a rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter, as the extra point by Dyck resulted in a 31-15 advantage. Less than two minutes later, Dyck would log a field goal, tying Matheson with 12 points in the game.

Despite Virginie Roussel registering Quebec’s third receiving touchdown of the game, it was not enough to overcome the setback against a strong Saskatchewan squad. A 34-22 final provided Saskatchewan head coach (and four-time WWCFL championship coach) Jeff Yausie with his first national title. Also serving as Team Canada’s head coach for 2017, there will be no shortage of solid talent to choose from as Canada aims to capture its first-ever gold in IFAF international competition.

In the bronze medal game, Kassidy Atwater proved to be the difference for a Team Alberta squad looking to avoid a last place finish. Playing both running back and kicker positions, Atwater registered points in the first, second and fourth quarters, highlighted by a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second. Olivia DeMarchant would score a pair of rushing touchdowns for Team New Brunswick as Alberta claimed the bronze in a 30-12 final.

Photo credit: Darren Steinke

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