After disruptions caused by COVID-19, Valkyries are enjoying the road to Saturday’s league finals

Finally, this year everything is going according to plan and it’s back to normal. It is fun.”

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Alex Eyolfson knew exactly where she wanted to be when winter turned to spring: on the soccer field with her Saskatoon Valkyries teammates.

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The team hadn’t played a proper season since 2019, which makes Saturday’s Western Women’s Canadian Football League championship game against the Manitoba Fearless all the more special.

“After COVID I still wanted to play. It’s still fun for me,” said Eyolfson, the Valkyries quarterback, on Thursday. “I wanted that normal regular season to come back.”

Saturday’s game is scheduled for SMF Field at 7:00 p.m. The Valkyries are a perfect 6-0 so far, including a 52-0 win over the Edmonton Storm last weekend.

Eyolfson completed 14 of 22 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns during that semifinal win, and she said she appreciates this season and the return to normal.

The entire 2020 schedule was wiped out, and in 2021 the Valkyries and Regina Riot salvaged a season a bit by playing a three-game provincial series against each other.

In 2022, they’ve returned to a full campaign, and the Valkyries have brought back many veterans hungry for a longer schedule and championship run.

“It feels like it’s been so long,” Eyolfson says of the initial cancellation. “I remember when COVID struck in March 2020 it was just a big shock when it all happened. It was “what? We won’t have a season?’ This is my sixth year, and it was weird – when spring comes, it’s Valkyrie time and you’re busy for those few months. So that was really weird.

“Last year we played against Regina three times, but it didn’t feel normal. Finally, this year everything is going according to plan and it’s back to normal. It is fun.”

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The Valkyries have won a total of six WWCFL titles and come into action Saturday as the defending champions as they defeated Regina 25-3 in the 2019 League Finals.

It feels like it’s been a long time, says Eyolfson with a laugh, but now they can do a rust refresh.

Manitoba goes into Saturday’s contest with a 5-1 record, including a 20-13 playoff win over Regina and a 15-6 win over the Calgary Rage last weekend.

Saskatoon and Manitoba have met once this season, with the Valkyries winning 43-14 on May 1st.

“They are trained very well and have probably seen a lot of our films,” Eyolfson said. “We have to adapt and we did that this week.

“There might be some extra pressure (like the favourites) but it’s a good challenge. We have to treat them like any other team and any other game. It’s going to be a good game, I think.”

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