Masri's dramatic late-winner, Caceres' incredible two-goal half pace Griffins to 3-2 win over Huskies

Philip Masri and Ali Yildiz watch as the striker's blast beats Saskatchewan goalkeeper Jaron Slopinski for the game-winner on Saturday (Jefferson Hagen photo).
Philip Masri and Ali Yildiz watch as the striker's blast beats Saskatchewan goalkeeper Jaron Slopinski for the game-winner on Saturday (Jefferson Hagen photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – The moment could have been deflating. Instead, it was exhilarating. 

As their 2-0 lead evaporated when Saskatchewan scored the equalizer in the 84th minute, the Griffins men's soccer team appeared headed for a draw.

But then Ali Yildiz found Philip Masri streaking through the box and the big striker buried a dramatic winner in the 88th that propelled MacEwan to a 3-2 win, its first victory of the young Canada West season.

"We know how bad we needed it," said Masri, who scored the first goal of his Canada West career. "Yesterday we had a tough game, but we had to come back today. We wanted it so bad, more than them. We got it done. Thank God for that goal for sure."

After a 2-0 loss to Lethbridge on Friday, the Griffins were a different team Saturday, attacking with aplomb and showing an extra gear in the grit department.

"You go through these tests and journeys throughout the year," said head coach Adam Loga. "It's beautiful to get one like this, a box checked this early. 

"I think it would have been easy for us to just be OK with a draw, but the fact we weren't OK with it just shows the determination and the grit within the group when we do come together as one."

While Masri put the icing on the cake, fellow newcomer Antony Caceres made a major impact in the first half for the Griffins, scoring two goals in the span of less than nine minutes before leaving with an injury on his second tally.

"He's in a different class when he puts his mind to it," said Loga of the former FC Edmonton midfielder. "We're ecstatic to have him. Obviously, he came in a bit late, a late signing, so he's just kind of getting his groove back and I think he found it today."

The Huskies had a chance in the 17th minute to open the scoring when Daler Tokhirov laced one from the top of the box, but keeper David Sithole – making his first Canada West start – laid out to parry it away. Sithole earned his first CW win with five saves.

"He stepped in," said Loga, who didn't have starter Marko Ilich after he was taken from Friday's game in an ambulance but will be OK to return soon. "The next-man up mentality. We're really short-manned right now. Everyone from first years to vets came in and did a role today." 

Ethan Cabral got Saskatchewan on the board in the 41st minute and the contest was a one-goal affair for a long time before the Huskies tied the game in the 84th as Robert Woodroffe-Brown jumped on a rebound out of a scramble in the box and buried it far side. 

But Yildiz, who finished with two assists, Masri and the rest of his teammates weren't done.

Philip Masri, left, and Shameiks McLeod celebrate his game-winning goal (Jefferson Hagen photo).

"I saw Ali with the ball and he screamed my name," said Masri, who leapt into the air and tattooed a ball far side past Saskatchewan keeper Jaron Slopinski. "Right when he said that, I knew it was my time to go. I got on my bike, got a great touch on my defender and put it away."

MacEwan certainly can build off the win as they move onto their next test – Sept. 2 vs. Alberta (12 p.m., Clarke Stadium, Canada West TV).

"I think the biggest thing for us today, night and day from yesterday, is we have huge expectations and high standards for this group, but at times they put extra pressure on themselves that's unnecessary," said Loga. "Just keep preaching joy, love, fun. The determination's there with this group. It's just about keeping them calm, and keeping them enjoying and loving what we do."