Carter, Yassin return to give Griffins a boost heading into huge match vs. cross-town rival Alberta

Chance Carter led MacEwan into the Canada West playoffs against Victoria in 2021, but an injury limited his effectiveness and availability last season (Armando Tura photo).
Chance Carter led MacEwan into the Canada West playoffs against Victoria in 2021, but an injury limited his effectiveness and availability last season (Armando Tura photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Coming off a stint with FC Edmonton, Chance Carter's impact was huge for the MacEwan Griffins men's soccer team during his rookie season in 2021.

A calming presence on the pitch, he led MacEwan to its first Canada West playoff berth and nearly to an upset over No. 1-seeded Victoria as the Griffins pushed the Vikes to overtime.

Unfortunately, that version of Chance Carter has rarely been seen since as he spent almost all of the 2022 season dealing with an injury that kept him out of five games and at just over half speed in the rest of them.

"I don't think I was ever 100 per cent last season," said the star midfielder. "I was just trying to work through the injury and try my best to stay on the field. Just being there provides something for the boys and helps point the game in the right direction, so I just tried to be on the field. But some games I just couldn't."

Carter will make his season debut for MacEwan (1-1-0) in a huge match vs. cross-town rival Alberta (1-0-1) on Saturday (12 p.m., Clarke Stadium, Canada West TV).

"He brings stability," said Griffins head coach Adam Loga. "For the most part, he's a consistent performer, an experienced player and one that every single lad in that dressing room looks up to. 

"He has to stay healthy," he added. "It's a gauntlet of a league sometimes in terms of back-to-back matches week in and week out. So, he needs to look after his body and us as a staff need to manage his workload as best as we can."

The Griffins will also get former MacEwan Male Athlete of the Year Rakan Yassin back as he's also eligible now, and will be making his season debut on Saturday.

Ricky Yassin will make his season debut on Saturday (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

"It's massive," said Loga. "There were definitely benefits with the next-man-up mentality. We got some younger guys some minutes, which you can never go wrong (doing) this early in the season. But to pad your roster with the standard and experience of Chance Carter and Ricky Yassin, who are proven players in this league and beyond, it's massive for us."

Both were in the stands on opening weekend when MacEwan lost to Lethbridge and beat Saskatchewan in a momentum-building win last Saturday. Although it was tough to watch and not contribute, Carter learned a few things about the team.

"What I liked is the fluidity," he said. "I feel we have a lot of players that can play different roles and a lot of players that understand the game, as well. It's very fluid and it will be hard for teams to understand what we're doing.

"Some things we need to work on is knowing when to relax, when to move it side to side. Sometimes I feel like we're go-go-go, but we just need to hold onto possession, move it around, look around a little more before we go. Once the time's right, that's when we go."

Saturday's match will be a special one for everyone as both rosters are chock-full of locals who grew up playing with and against one another. But for Carter, the rivalry takes on even more meaning in 2023.

"I feel like that's probably our biggest game of the season," he said. "This year's a little special because my long-time friend Marcus (Velado-Tsegaye) is on the Bears now. Me and him go way back. We've been together since kindergarten, and we were with FC Edmonton together. 

"It's going to be a little weird being on opposite sides as rivals, but I'm also looking forward to it. That just adds a little more to the game this weekend."

MILESTONE MOMENT … Saturday's match will be head coach Adam Loga's 86th game at the helm of the Griffins, passing former MacEwan coach Cam Leverman (who coached 85 games between 2009-15) for second on the all-time program list behind only the late great Murray Orvis (179 games between 1993-2001, 2002-09) … Leverman, who was the Griffins' bench boss their first two seasons in Canada West (2014, 2015) is an assistant coach with the Golden Bears.