Griffins down to final chance to clinch after tough 5-0 loss to Dinos

Abass Ajibade battles for a ball against Calgary's Kundai Dziwa on Saturday (David Moll photo).
Abass Ajibade battles for a ball against Calgary's Kundai Dziwa on Saturday (David Moll photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

-with files from Dinos Athletics

CALGARY – Flurries, a relocation and a delayed start put the Griffins men's soccer team out of rhythm and on their heels at the wrong possible time on Saturday.

Needing a win to clinch a playoff spot for the second-straight season, they instead suffered their worst defeat of 2022, losing 5-0 to the Calgary Dinos in a game moved to McMahon Stadium because of inclement weather.

Now, the Griffins  (3-7-3) are down to their final chance to clinch; they must hand the Mount Royal University Cougars (8-0-5) their first loss of the season on Sunday (3 p.m., Canada West TV) or they will miss the playoffs.

"We're still alive," said MacEwan head coach Adam Loga. "We've been in playoffs since Day 1 this season. Now we're faced with having to stay in on the last day. It's up to us, it's up to the boys and the staff to put it together for one more game. We'll put forth our best effort and just see what happens."

Saskatchewan (3-7-4) beat Lethbridge (2-10-2) 1-0 on Saturday to move a point ahead of the Griffins in the standings and they hold the tiebreaker (goals for, goals against ratio vs. like opponents), so a tie against the Cougars won't cut it.

If there is anything they can lean on, the Griffins clinched a playoff spot on the final day of the season in 2021 by blanking Calgary 1-0. They've done it before, so they can do it again.

"We just hope that same kind of attitude and intensity carries over into tomorrow and it's contagious throughout the rest of the group," said Loga.

Saturday's game was moved back by almost three hours and the changed location messed with the Griffins' logistics enough that they got off to a slow start. The Dinos were up 2-0 on goals by William Omoreniye and Decklin Mahmi before the game was 14 minutes old.

"It showed," said Loga of the effects the changes had on the contest. "It was a slow start. We kind of beat ourselves on the first couple of goals and just couldn't recover. It's never great to chase a game that you want to win."

James Greco-Taylor put Calgary up 3-0 in the 31st minute before Omoreniye scored his second of the contest in the 52nd.

As big a hole that was to try and dig out of, the Griffins were further hampered when Abass Ajibade received his second yellow card of the match in the 58th minute and was ejected.

A man down, the Griffins conceded one more – an 88th minute tally by Nicolas Kostiw – that sealed their fate.

"Getting a man sent off is a never a great thing," said Loga. "We started slow and we made some errors that were definitely controllable to cause the first couple of goals there and we just couldn't find our feet to recover. 

"It was tough conditions. We moved to a different pitch, with a different game time. When the uncontrollables happen like that, we've got to make sure we look after the controllables, and we didn't really do that today."