Griffins outplay division-leading Cougars but settle for 1-1 draw on another late equalizer

Kayden Dugas celebrates his goal with teammates Nicolas Luczkiewicz, right, and Ricky Yassin on Sunday (Joel Kingston photo).
Kayden Dugas celebrates his goal with teammates Nicolas Luczkiewicz, right, and Ricky Yassin on Sunday (Joel Kingston photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Although they're only the third team this season to get a result against the Mount Royal University Cougars, you can't blame the Griffins for feeling a little disappointed after Sunday's 1-1 draw with the Canada West men's soccer Prairie Division leaders.

They deserved a better fate after dominating possession in the contest and holding a 1-0 lead into the late stages on their home training field – Edmonton Scottish Dome.

But MRU capitalized on a midfield turnover in the 83rd minute to equalize and netted a point to move to 10-2-1 on the season. 

MacEwan is now 2-6-3 and will need to string some wins together to finish the season if they hope to qualify for the playoffs.

"I think we played really solid for most of the game," said midfielder Kayden Dugas, who scored the lone goal for the Griffins. "For 85 minutes, we were the better team. We were solid, we were defending as a unit, and we just had one mistake.

"We probably should have played it long and safe, but we took a risk and were punished for it. It was kind of the same yesterday against the Dinos," he added of them settling for a draw after Calgary got the equalizer in extra time. "But it's getting a lot better. We're not conceding as many or as in bunches. We're scoring more, we're more as a team, we're more as a unit."

Dugas gave MacEwan a 1-0 lead in the 52nd with a super strike from inside the box. Philip Masri gained possession out of a corner kick scramble and tapped it back to Dugas on a tee.

"I gotta give big props to Phil – he put it on a platter for me," said Dugas, who scored for the second time in as many games. "He did the hard work. I just had to tap it in. 

"I think all of our hard work in defending and getting into those positions is what got us there. We've been working for it, we've been working on it in training and it decided to show up when we needed it most."

While MacEwan had more of the possession for the early part of the game, you could see it building for the Cougars late in the second half as they subbed in several players and pushed for the equalizer. 

"They made some subs and had some fresh legs," said MacEwan head coach Adam Loga. "We were just riding the group and it's the second half of a doubleheader. Some of the guys having to play 180 in two days makes it tough.

"At the same time, guys showed grit and determination today. Just the character of the boys – I'm proud of them. Obviously, it's not the greatest way to draw. I felt these two draws feel like losses, but at the end of the day, they're working and we're still in it."

In the 81st minute, MRU's Wyatt Davis had a wide open lane on the right side of the box, unleashing a rocket from 15 feet out that MacEwan keeper David Sithole somehow deflected out of play. 

"When push comes to shove, sometimes we need that save, if you will," said Loga. "He came up with it today, which secured the point."

Chance Carter was named game MVP for the Griffins after a huge game winning possession and defending all over the field (Joel Kingston photo).

Just over two minutes later, MRU found the equalizer as Abel Nesibu stole the ball midfield and got the ball to Mowbray Beghin, who neatly slotted it inside the right post.

Sithole finished with two saves for the Griffins, while Aidan Dumoulin made four for MRU.

Dumoulin was also helped out by his crossbar as Antony Caceres found iron in the 16th minute. MacEwan outshot MRU 11-8 (5-3 on target) in the game.

But their playoff fate will rely on getting wins down the stretch. The Griffins trail Lethbridge (3-4-5) by five points for the final playoff spot in the Prairie Division with a game in hand.

The Griffins have remaining contests at Saskatchewan and Lethbridge next weekend, as well as a makeup home date vs. Thompson Rivers University on Oct. 22, rescheduled from Sept. 17's postponed contest.

"We just have to get rid of those one or two mistakes a game that cost us a goal in a tie or a loss," said Dugas. "If we got rid of that one mistake, we'd come away with three points and that's huge for our season. I think now we have to win our last three games to give ourselves a fighting chance."