Griffins head to Calgary on final regular season weekend needing one win to clinch a playoff spot

Stefan Gajic and the Griffins would clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Calgary Dinos on Saturday (Rebecca Chelmick photo).
Stefan Gajic and the Griffins would clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Calgary Dinos on Saturday (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – The math is rather simple for the MacEwan Griffins men's soccer team as they enter the final weekend of the regular season.

One win and they're in.

There are many other scenarios in play in a tight three-way race between MacEwan, Calgary and Saskatchewan for the final two spots in the Canada West Prairie Division, but the reality is the Griffins control their own destiny.

"Similar to last year," pointed out head coach Adam Loga. "We were in a situation where we still controlled our own destiny, but we needed six points over that weekend, and we did just that. Obviously, we want to do the same, just control our own destiny by winning Saturday and moving into playoffs. 

"It's crazy, by Monday you could be (anywhere from) a third-place team to a fifth-place team."

Currently, the Griffins (3-6-3) are sitting in the fourth and final playoff position in the Prairie Division as they head into road action at third-place Calgary (4-5-3) on Saturday (2:15 p.m.) and at first-place Mount Royal University (8-0-4) on Sunday (3 p.m., both Canada West TV).

A win over Calgary would not only clinch a playoff spot for the Griffins, it would give them the season series vs. the Dinos also and open up the possibility of finishing third in the division.

The other scenario in play is out of their control as fifth-place Saskatchewan (2-7-4) visits Lethbridge (2-9-2) on Saturday (2:15 p.m.). If the Huskies tie or lose, the Griffins clinch a playoff spot, regardless of their own results, because that's Saskatchewan's final game of the regular season.

Should the Griffins end up tied with the Huskies, however, Saskatchewan holds the advantage on the third tiebreaker (goals for/against vs. like opponents).

Working in MacEwan's favour this weekend is all the returning players on the roster have the experience from last season when they needed to beat the previously unbeaten Dinos in back-to-back road games on the final weekend to make the playoffs. 

And they did.

"We know what it takes," said Loga. "I think the veteran guys are doing a good job this week lending that experience to the newer lads and the underclassmen. I think that helps us. 

"It is a little different situation than last year, for sure. Obviously going into this weekend, we are in a better situation than we were last season, which shows a little bit of progress. 

"At the end of the day, we have to close it out. Whether last year or this year, it has to be closed out."

The Dinos have already clinched a playoff spot, but they would lock up third place with a win over the Griffins, so there will be tons to play for between two teams that tied 1-1 at Edmonton Scottish back in August.

"Calgary's always tough," said Loga. "They always battle, they always grind. It's a fight, right? We've just got to outlast one more punch than they do, and we should be OK."

With losses in five of their last six games, the Griffins will be looking to not only clinch but right the ship, too, before the post-season should they get there.

"I've said it time and time again throughout this season, it's not about ability with this group and it's not about lack of talent," said Loga. "It's more about coming together and sticking to the game plan and we should be OK. 

"We've obviously had our ups and downs – and more downs as of late – but we've acknowledged those things that need to be corrected over this week and we're doing what we can and approaching things a little bit differently to try and get the group gelling more and more and more."