Playing a man short for more than 36 minutes, Griffins fight valiantly but settle for tie after late goal against

Philip Masri heads home his second of the game in the 48th minute on Saturday (Joel Kingston photo).
Philip Masri heads home his second of the game in the 48th minute on Saturday (Joel Kingston photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – In as wild a soccer game as you'll see in Canada West, the MacEwan Griffins were forced to settle for a heartbreaking 4-4 draw with the Calgary Dinos when the visitors found the equalizer in the seventh minute of extra time, seconds before the final whistle.

Prior to the dramatic late tying goal by William Omoreniye off a cross by Aidan Izadi, the Griffins lost a 3-1 lead while playing a man short due to a 61st-minute red card and valiantly regained a 4-3 advantage in the 82nd minute. 

They also had a defensive save off the line in extra time, as Shameiks McLeod cleared Omoreniye's header that was heading inside the right post.

But it will go down as a draw that feels like a loss for the Griffins, who never trailed in the game and were the dominant squad when the teams had equal men on the field.

"It was a great effort by our guys," said MacEwan head coach Adam Loga. "We showed a lot of grit and character to keep battling, especially having to be down to 10 men for as long as we had to. Hopefully, their hard work will eventually pay off because they keep putting in a shift. We just can't seem to find the bounces."

The result is extra tough for the Griffins because they failed to gain ground on the Dinos in the Prairie Division standings. While they still have two games in hand, their 2-6-2 record is still seven points back of Calgary's 4-5-3 mark. In between, occupying the final playoff spot in the division, is Lethbridge (3-4-4), who are visiting Saskatchewan this evening (7 p.m.).

"The positive is we hold the tiebreak against U of C," said Loga, whose team beat the Dinos 3-1 in Calgary earlier this season. "That was one thing we wanted to do, and we did that today, if we do end up in a tie. But we've just got to keep going. We're in playoff footie right now. We're right there, we just have to close things out."

Philip Masri celebrates his opening goal of the contest. He now has six goals on the season, just two shy of the program's single season record in the Canada West era (Joel Kingston photo).

Big striker Philip Masri continued his riveting rookie season with his fifth goal of the campaign to open the scoring in the 15th minute, slamming home a cross by Kayden Dugas with authority.

Dugas made it 2-0 for MacEwan in the 30th when he cruised up the middle and hit a perfect strike past Calgary keeper Liam Hunter for his first career Canada West goal. The rookie midfielder had himself a day but was forced to leave the game due to an injury in the 68th minute.

"He continually works hard," said Loga. "He's very coachable. We've worked with him in the last couple of weeks in terms of his positioning and what he needs to do in the attacking phases. It showed that he's starting to figure it out today."

Calgary got on the board in the 34th minute when James Greco-Taylor converted a golden free kick opportunity from the top of the box that deflected off the wall and past MacEwan goalkeeper Marko Ilich.

But MacEwan wasted little time gaining a two-goal advantage as Masri struck again just over two minutes into the second half, knifing in a header off Nicolas Luczkiewicz's pass. The latter finished with two assists.

"When we were up, we were doing great," said Masri, who now has six tallies on the season, just two shy of the program's single CW season goals record of 8, set by Everett Orgnero in 2018. "That red card definitely hit us in the leg, for sure. Being a man down, it was tough to put pressure on the ball, getting the ball in the box, but we fought. We got the lead at one point. It's unfortunate they got that goal at the end."

The Griffins were in control of the contest until Jakob Sievert was hit with a straight red card for a hard tackle at midfield and ejected, sending MacEwan down to 10 men for the final 30 minutes and change.

The moment gave the Dinos life as Omoreniye and Izadi scored 71st and 76th-minute goals to tie the contest.

Dinos goalkeeper Liam Hunter had no chance on Abass Ajibade's header goal off a corner kick in the 82nd minute (Joel Kingston photo).

That, in turn, woke up the Griffins, who got back on the front foot and regained the lead in the 82nd on Abass Ajibade's header goal off Antony Caceres' corner kick.

But the late goal by Calgary gave both teams a point.

"We've just got to clean it up defensively," said Masri. "We never want to concede that many goals in a game, so we've just got to keep defending more and seal out these games – be more disciplined, for sure."

The Griffins will next host Mount Royal on Sunday (12 p.m., Edmonton Scottish Dome, Canada West TV).