Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
-With files from Huskie Athletics
SASKATOON – After leading the Prairie Division for most of the season, the MacEwan Griffins will need help on the final day of the regular season to finish first after losing 2-1 to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies on Saturday.
The showdown for top spot was a tale of two halves. After MacEwan hopped out to a lead in the first half thanks to a Sofia DiGiacomo tally, Saskatchewan scored twice in the final 45 on goals from Maya Gabruch and Jenelle Zapski.
"We came ever so close to equalizing, but it didn't come," said Griffins head coach Dean Cordeiro. "Full credit to them. They're a good side, well organized and they play with passion. They played a good game today and got the better of us."
The Griffins also endured a tough call earlier in the second half that would have put them up 2-1 as Raeghan McCarthy scored but was the goal was waved off on an offside call.
"Reviewing the film, (we don't believe it was) off-side, so it's a game of inches," said Cordeiro. "That's how quickly momentum gets swayed one way or another.
"We didn't let it define us. We kept pushing for it. We had some good chances, just couldn't beat their keeper."
Both teams are now 8-2-3 heading to the regular season finale on Sunday.
Saskatchewan holds the head-to-head tiebreaker and would finish first if they top 6-2-5 Alberta on Sunday (2 p.m. in Saskatoon), but that's no walk in the park, especially since the Pandas would finish third with a win, leapfrogging 8-5-1 Manitoba, or fourth with any other result.
MacEwan visits 3-7-3 Regina (12 p.m., Canada West TV presented by Co-op), who are locked into the Prairie's No. 5 seed no matter the result.
"I thought the way the season went, we should have put ourselves in a situation where we weren't needing some other things to fall our way," said Cordeiro, whose squad controlled the Prairie Division but stubbed their toe a couple times with two ties against sixth-place Lethbridge. "This has kind of sparked the group a little bit and now we're going to respond. Tomorrow's a big game versus Regina and we'll have to take care of business.
"The U of A and Sask both have some things to play for. The bottom line is the conference is good. There's a chance things could still work out, but we can only control the controllables we can by preparing ourselves, making sure we're ready for Regina – ready to play the last 90 of the season and we'll see where things play out from there."
DiGiacomo was named MacEwan's player of the game on Saturday after scoring on a diving header off a Suekiana Choucair corner kick.
"It was a hell of a finish," said Cordeiro. "She's a rock for us in the back playing out of position since Sammy went down and has really come into her own. For a first year to have the impact that she's had has been really important and good for us."