Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – There was a game in the snow.
Another featured three red cards.
Big goals and huge saves have come to be expected.
There's no doubt the entertainment value in men's soccer matches between the MacEwan Griffins and the Mount Royal University Cougars has been through the roof in a rivalry as stoked as any in the Canada West ranks.
Griffins head coach Adam Loga, who was an assistant coach on MRU Cougars' Ryan Gyaki's staff before coming to MacEwan in 2016, said there are many reasons why battles between the teams are so intense.
"It just seems every game is very entertaining, regardless of if it's entertaining because we wanted it that way or it just kind of happens," he said. "They're usually very competitive matches, as well.
"I think also we're just new faces in Canada West," he added of the fact MacEwan entered the conference in 2014, two years after fellow new kids on the block MRU. "We're in very similar situations, so I think that brings a lot out of it as well."
The latest editions of the rivalry will take place this weekend when the Griffins travel to Calgary to face the Cougars on Saturday and Sunday (both 3 p.m., Canada West TV presented by Co-op).
MacEwan has a 5-6-1 record against MRU in Canada West regular season matches since 2014, but have won four of six games between the teams on the Cougars' field.
When they meet this weekend, playoff implications will be on the line as the 1-2-1 Griffins sit just two points behind the 1-1-3 Cougars for the final post-season spot in the Central Division.
The Griffins are coming in off a split at home against Saskatchewan – winning 1-0 on Saturday before running out of gas in a 4-0 loss on Sunday.
"We've battled, especially on the first day," said Loga of the season so far, which included a similar pattern on the previous weekend with a tie against Alberta, followed by a loss on the Sunday.
"The effort level on both Saturdays has been tremendous. The compete level has been admirable. It's just being able to do that for both days has been kind of our Achilles' heel."
He thinks the best way to rectify that is to start thinking the game a little better on Sundays.
"I think just focus and concentration," said Loga. "We have to start playing more with our minds rather than just with our feet. We go into Sunday naturally a bit more tired. We may not have the depth of some of the bigger schools, so we just have to start thinking the game better."