Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
-With files from Dinos Athletics
CALGARY – Although, they were eliminated from playoff contention before Sunday's visit to the University of Calgary Dinos, the MacEwan Griffins men's soccer team put on a display that the program can be proud of.
They earned a 2-2 draw with the Dinos – winning the season series against them – by playing for each other, especially for the three graduating seniors who saw meaningful minutes in the contest.
"They enjoy playing for each other," explained head coach Adam Loga of the motivation for a team that is playing out the string. "They enjoy getting on the field every weekend and going to battle with one another. It's a tight-knit group and whether we're in the playoffs or not, they're going to enjoy every minute of playing. They know it doesn't last forever and they're going to enjoy every minute of it.
"Seeing guys like fifth-year Jose get 90, Seth have a great game as a fifth-year, Toba gets some minutes as a fifth-year … the first-years want to see them out well. It's their last road trip and we got them a point."
With the Griffins trailing 2-1 in the contest, Liam Creek headed home the equalizer in the 88th minute to seal the result.
Abass Ajibade scored MacEwan's other tally – in the 14th minute – while Dondre Bailey (8th minute) and Derek Brust (23rd minute) scored Calgary's goals.
"I'm just proud of their efforts today," said Loga. "We could have felt sorry for ourselves with the stuff we've had to endure over the course of the season, but we don't and we haven't and we won't. It was great to see."
Johnstone was masterful in the contest, making 10 saves, including stopping Eryk Kobza's penalty kick in the 62nd minute. It's the second penalty he's stopped this season.
"Since B.C., he's been riding quite the wave," said Loga. "He's putting together something pretty unique that we haven't had really at MacEwan since (Dylon) Powley in terms of some steadiness between the sticks. He's becoming very consistent and had another great game."
Following their first tie of the year, Calgary (6-6-1) will need some help on the out of the town scoreboard if they want to host a playoff game. The Dinos are tied with the Saskatchewan Huskies (5-3-4) for points, but have one less game to play than the Saskatoon-based club next weekend.
The Dinos will host the Mount Royal Cougars on Saturday, Oct. 18, while MacEwan (1-7-4) will welcome the Lethbridge Pronghorns on Saturday (12 p.m.) and Huskies on Sunday (12 p.m., both games Clarke Stadium, Canada West TV presented by Co-op) to close out their season. The latter will be the Griffins' senior day and the team will continue playing hard to send their graduates off on a high note.
"We're in a situation where some of the things didn't go our way this year, the game didn't love us back," said Loga. "But we come together and we're not going to sit here feeling sorry for ourselves. We're going to get on the front foot and put in a good effort."