By Nick Kuhl on June 10, 2018.
Steel women’s football team edged by Storm in entertaining WWCFL quarter final
The Lethbridge Steel and the Edmonton Storm left it all out on the field.
But with the final seconds ticking awat, the Storm were able to leave just a little more and as a result they’re off to the next round following a wild 45-44 win over the Steel in the quarter-final of the Western Women’s Canadian Football League Saturday afternoon at the University of Lethbridge Stadium.
Down 44-42 following a pair of touchdowns from Lethbridge’s Myranda Falardeau, the Storm engineered a final-minute drive — including a successful third-and-10 conversion — to drive the ball to the shadow of the Steel’s goalpost before kicking the game-winning field goal with seven seconds left.
Prior to that, it was more of a question of what didn’t happen as opposed to what did in a adrenaline-busting, entertaining battle that featured swapped leads, lengthy carries, clutch passes and a botched Steel field goal attempt that inadvertently turned into a two-point convert that nudged them ahead by two with 1:06 remaining.
But on an afternoon where Falardeau — the rugby athlete-turned-football player — provided all the offence for the Steel with exception of the two-point convert, the Storm fired the last shot to advance to the league semifinal to face the Prairie Conference-leading Regina Riot (3-0) in the crossover game next weekend.
“It was a complete game of emotion,” said Steel head coach Quintin Cheverie. “We squeezed every ounce out of these girls that we possibly could and they played their butts off for us. We came out a little flat in the second and we kind of lost momentum. In the end, I think that’s what hurt us.”
The teams exchanged majors early in the first quarter as Falardeau ran for her first touchdown of the afternoon before Edmonton quickly answered back for a 7-6 lead.
The Steel got the lead back thanks to a pair of lengthy touchdown romps from Falardeau from 69 and 62 yards for an 18-7 lead after the first quarter.
Special teams went to work for Lethbridge to start the second quarter as Christy Weiss hauled in an interception that set up another Falardeau major for a 24-7 lead.
After Edmonton cut the Steel’s lead to 24-14, Lethbridge quarterback Veronica Osckowski went to the air and found Sharla Graham for a long carry that set up Falardeau’s fifth major of the afternoon and a 30-14 lead with 2:50 to go in the half.
What looked like a healthy halftime lead quickly vanished in the final 2:50 as Edmonton’s Chantelle Chenard hauled in a pair of touchdown passes to shrink the Steel’s lead to 30-28 at halftime.
Edmonton kept the up pace in the second half and got the lead back as Brenna Bouchard took the handoff and scampered 62 yards to hand the Storm a 35-30 lead with 7:24 to go in the third quarter.
After a Steel goal line stand in the fourth quarter, Aria McGowan burst through on a third-and-goal attempt to put the Storm up 42-30.
“Adjustment wise, we just faltered a bit,” said Cheverie. “We couldn’t quite get everything clicking the way we needed it to when we wanted it to and unfortunately that’s sports.”
But with time ticking down, the Steel conjured up one more pushback as Falardeau went on another long run — this one 74 yards — to trim Edmonton’s lead to 42-36 and get the U of L Stadium buzzing.
“Everybody made their blocks,” said Falardeau. “The team really pulled through, I think after that touchdown we really had our chin up and were ready to play again.”
With a little under two minutes to go, the Steel engineered another drive, benefitting on a pass interference call that moved the ball to the Storm 10-yard line before another goal line stand resulted in Falardeau bursting through to knot the score at 42-42.
As the Steel went for their first successful convert of the afternoon, they were unable to get the ball down for the field goal attempt, forcing Osckowski to scoop up the ball and scramble to her right, lunging a pass into the end zone that found Justus Janzen-White for the unintentional two-point convert and the late lead.
“I told them right before we snap that we needed a good snap, a good hold and a good kick and it all kind of went for a naught,”said Cheverie. “Veronica, again, as she does consistently kept us in it and gives us a chance.”
On the last-minute Edmonton drive, the Steel defence turned the Storm away on their first two attempts to get downfield before Chenard came up clutch on a third-and-10 pass that moved the Storm within range for the winning field goal.
“We just couldn’t lock down their top player and it was one of those things, you usually try to take away their top players that gouged us for a bit,” said Cheverie of Chenard. “She didn’t consistently gouge us, She gouged just when it was most important in the key situations. So kudos to her, she played her tail off. They have a good team and I wish them all the luck.”
Not that Falardeau’s seven touchdown performance went unnoticed.
“She’s incredible,” said Cheverie. “She’s a first-year player whose never touched a football before.”She comes to us from a rugby background and a lot of it has been a work in progress. It’s good that she can see all her hard work pay off in the end.”
The rookie run was a fun one, said Falardeau.
“I love it, it’s a great sport. It’s very different from rugby, but great women out there, very strong, tough. I love the sport.”
The loss wraps up a season in which the Storm went 3-1.
“We are extremely proud of what these girls have done. These girls were able to get them selves to their first winning season with in the last three or four years, a lot of that credit goes to them. They’ve met our expectations beyond and above and a lot of it goes to them.”
Follow @DWoodardHerald on Twitter