Griffins finish fourth in Canada West for second-straight season after losing 2-1 to UBC

Griffins goalkeeper Emily Burns kicks the ball during Friday's semifinal game against Victoria. MacEwan lost 2-1 to UBC in the Canada West bronze-medal match on Saturday (Courtesy Trinity Western University).
Griffins goalkeeper Emily Burns kicks the ball during Friday's semifinal game against Victoria. MacEwan lost 2-1 to UBC in the Canada West bronze-medal match on Saturday (Courtesy Trinity Western University).

MacEwan Athletics and Trinity Western Athletics 

LANGLEY, B.C. – Coming ever so close to the first Canada West medal in MacEwan women's soccer history, the Griffins were forced to settle for fourth after conceding two second-half goals in the span of three minutes to lose 2-1 to the UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday.

It's the second-straight year the Griffins lost in the conference bronze-medal game.

"You're never happy after a loss, but we've made some incremental gains," said Griffins head coach Dean Cordeiro. "We feel much better this year than we did last year falling short. Today we played a hell of a game against a very strong program. Unfortunately, we came up short."

UBC was the two-time defending Canada West champions and had beaten MacEwan 3-0 earlier in the season, but it was the Griffins taking the play to the T-Birds in the first half.

"We came out flying. That's what we wanted to see. We had a lot of momentum from the second-half of the UVic game – it was just the way we wanted to play, MacEwan football," said Griffins head coach Dean Cordeiro. "We carried that through the start of this game. We put them under immense pressure."

On the heels of a close call in the box, MacEwan broke through with the first goal of the contest. In the 17th minute, Suekiana Choucair sent a corner kick into the box and the ball deflected off the hands of UBC goalkeeper Marlee Maracle and into the back of the net.

The Griffins continued to press for a second goal, but while they looked like the better side for much of the rest of the opening half, they went into the break with only a 1-0 lead. MacEwan finished with four corners, while the T-Birds were held without a corner in the first half.

In the second half, the field tilted UBC's way.

From the outset, the T-Birds put the Griffins under pressure and less than five minutes into the second half, Kassie Kirlik equalized for UBC. Rachel Jones sent a cross into the box and Kirlik elevated above the crowd and headed it past Griffins goalkeeper Emily Burns.

With the tying marker in the bag, the T-Birds snagged momentum and three minutes later Tess McRae knocked home a cross from Aman Shergill for what would prove to be the game-winning goal.

"We knew they were going to come out flying," said Cordeiro. "They have a bunch of senior players who have had illustrious careers. We were playing for Kristen Skrundz our (fifth-year) captain today, as well. We had a 10-minute void in the game we'd like to have back."

The T-Birds largely held the Griffins in check the rest of the match, playing a sound possession game that limited any sort of MacEwan attack.

Just before the 90-minute mark, MacEwan had its best chance to tie the game on a counterattack, but while Salma Kamel's shot beat Maracle, it rolled wide left.

"We'll have time to reflect and we'll look back and see this is a part of the growing process," said Cordeiro. "It's going to get us to where we want to go. We'll be back. We've made it to (the conference championship weekend) three-straight years and that's going to be our goal next year.

"Next year we'll be a little bit older, a little bit wiser. I'm very proud of this group and their efforts. They played their hearts out and that's all a coaching staff could ever ask for. Amazing group."

FREE KICKS … Maracle made four saves for UBC, while Burns made three for the Griffins, including a diving stop off Jones in the 11th minute … Skrundz was named player of the game for MacEwan in her final contest of her illustrious five-year university career, which began with a Canadian Colleges Athletics Association national title in 2013 … Trinity Western claimed the Canada West women's soccer championship with a 2-1 win over Victoria later on Saturday.