Griffins rally back from 3-1 deficit before late goal against seals a 4-3 defeat at UFV

Chance Carter battles for the ball deep in UFV's zone on Sunday (Jordie Arthur photo).
Chance Carter battles for the ball deep in UFV's zone on Sunday (Jordie Arthur photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – In heartbreaking fashion, the Griffins men's soccer team conceded a goal in the 89thminute that doomed them to a 4-3 defeat against the UFV Cascades on Sunday afternoon.

All the good things they did in the contest – namely scoring three goals and rallying back from two down – added up to zero points in the standings after UFV's Roland Mansell got on the end of a long free kick and headed it in.

"It's our Achilles' heel," said MacEwan head coach Adam Loga, whose squad has allowed 13 goals against in their last three games. "We're just struggling in the defensive phases. Obviously, we have lads playing out of position on our back line a bit due to some eligibility issues we didn't foresee happening this season, but we have to find a way to stop conceding."

The Griffins fall to 2-5-0 after the result, but remain alive in the Prairie Division playoff race, tied with Saskatchewan (1-4-3) for the final playoff spot with a game in hand.

"We just have to keep going," said Loga. "Every time you lose, things get addressed and things can get fixed. It's very clear what needs to happen and what we need to do to fix some of these issues. 

"The players, for the most part, have been taking it upon themselves in taking accountability for the lapses, which is obviously a positive thing to see – they know it's on them."

On the plus side of the leger, the Griffins' offence continued to bear fruit as Phil Masri scored twice, while Egzon Jetishi tallied his first of the season in just his third game of the 2023 campaign.

"It's always good to see when your 9 is in form and starting to put balls in the back of the net," said Loga of his big rookie striker Masri, who now has three goals on the season. "That's definitely a positive, for sure."

The Griffins opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Abass Ajibade's long ball was corralled by Stewart Jamieson deep in the UFV zone and sent back to Masri, who placed a left-foot strike inside the right post.

UFV then went on a scoring spree, gaining a 3-1 lead on goals by Kian Proctor in the 20th, Jeevan Dhaliwal in the 25th and Carson Muter in the 41st.

Jetishi, however, got the Griffins back within one before the half when he danced up the right side and got a bounce when his shot deflected in off a defender.

"We're happy the have him back," said Loga. "It looked like we wouldn't have him this season. I'm happy to get him these last couple of weeks. He's been playing very well."

Masri then equalized in the 54th when he converted on a PK with a laser strike to the bottom left corner. 

After UFV went ahead late, the Griffins had a glorious chance in extra time, but Masri's header from 10 feet out was cleared off the line by Muter.

MacEwan will try to end a three-game losing streak against cross-town rival Alberta, their opponent for their next two games – Sept. 30 at Foote Field (2:15 p.m.) and Oct. 4 at Edmonton Scottish (4 p.m., both Canada West TV). 

"When times are tough, you just have to stay positive when sometimes it's the most difficult thing to do," summed up Loga. "But that's the only way out."