Spectacular bounce-back for Griffins with Canada West program-best offensive effort in 5-1 win over Horns

Stefan Gajic had a goal, an assist and set up two others in a virtuoso performance for the men's soccer team in a 5-1 win over Lethbridge on Saturday (Tia Schram photo).
Stefan Gajic had a goal, an assist and set up two others in a virtuoso performance for the men's soccer team in a 5-1 win over Lethbridge on Saturday (Tia Schram photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – It's often said by teams trying to get past a tough loss that they need to park it and move on.

Mission accomplished for the Griffins men's soccer team.

Six days after suffering an astounding 12-3 defeat to the Mount Royal Cougars, they bounced back with a 5-1 drubbing of the Lethbridge Pronghorns on Saturday at Clarke Stadium.

It's as if they parked that old station wagon clunker with the rust holes that your dad insists you get 400K out of and drove off in brand new sparkling Porsche.

"From the moment we stepped on the pitch this week, heck, the moment we got off the bus from last weekend, the guys were on a mission to erase last weekend and get back on the front foot," said MacEwan head coach Adam Loga.

Scoring at least five times in a game is something the team hasn't done since the program was back in the Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference in 2013.

"It's nice seeing stuff come to fruition," said Loga. "Our game model's being executed more and our patterns of play are starting to roll smoother. We're seeing that in the first bit of last Sunday and today. When you see the execution happening, you're going to get more trust and buy-in with each other. We proved that today."

With the result, the Griffins improve to 2-4-1 on the campaign, dropping Lethbridge to 0-7-1.

Last Sunday, the Griffins went up 3-1 on MRU early in the contest before the wheels fell off.

In a similar vein early on Saturday, they gained a two-goal lead, but there would none of that nonsense this time; the Griffins pushed hard to the final whistle and handed the Pronghorns a shellacking.

"I guess we kind of want to say we learned from our mistakes," said Griffins midfielder Stefan Gajic, who was named MacEwan's player of the game. "We wanted to stay more accountable with each other, just communicating more at the back and just keeping it simple."

Gajic was one of four Griffins players with a goal and an assist each – joining Michael Ho, Rakan Yassin and Alvin Mazaheri at the front of a tremendous team offensive effort.

Mazaheri opened the scoring in the 25th minute with his third goal in as many games and fourth of this, his rookie season, when he tapped in a pass from Ho, who had been played in on the right side by Gajic.

Ali Yildiz, left, celebrates with Rakan Yassin and Stefan Gajic after scoring his first career Canada West goal in Saturday's 5-1 win over Lethbridge (Tia Schram photo).

Ali Yildiz notched the first goal of his Canada West career in the 28th to make it 2-0 when he spun and fired from the top of the box and sent it inside the post.

Landon Veluw got Lethbridge on the board in the 40th minute, heading in a cross from Danilo Morales. But it was all MacEwan the rest of the way.

Ho restored the Griffins' two-goal lead before the half, tapping in Mazaheri's header pass on a ball that had been played in by Gajic.

Gajic then put a 30-yard cross-seam pass right onto the boot of streaking striker Yassin, who made it 4-1 for MacEwan in the 48th minute, and then capped a special day by converting a penalty kick in the 68th.

"He just does a little bit of everything," said Loga of Gajic. "An assist, a goal, a couple of hockey assists. We can move him around. He commands so much from himself and so much from others. We're going to miss him."

Gajic, who is graduating from the program after this season, will be feted along with fellow seniors Simon Dawe and Evan Berube in Sunday's final regular season home game, a 2:30 p.m. start vs. Lethbridge (Clarke Stadium, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).