Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Regional rivalry fires will be stoked under Canada West's 2021 women's soccer regular season schedule format.
In the newly-created five-team Alberta division, MacEwan won't have to wait long to face their two biggest adversaries.
The Griffins' home opener is set for Sept. 4 vs. cross-town rival Alberta – the first Canada West game in any sport in 2021 – and their second match of the season goes eight days later on Sept. 12 when they host Calgary (both 12 p.m., Clarke Stadium).
Neither rivalry needs an introduction, but if you're looking for one, the Griffins and Pandas have met twice in the playoffs in the past three seasons, while the last time MacEwan played Calgary, they suffered a tough defeat on penalty kicks in the 2019 Canada West semifinal.
"They knocked us out in the penalty shootout to go to nationals," noted head coach Dean Cordeiro, who will spend the summer coaching on the same side as Dinos bench boss Troye Flannery, at the helm of new UWS entry St. Albert. "So, we definitely look forward to that rivalry and seeing where that goes by playing them an extra time this season."
The Griffins will also meet the Pandas twice more at home (Sept. 25-26, both at noon, Clarke Stadium) and will close out the regular season with a pair of road games in Calgary against the Dinos (Oct. 23-24).
MacEwan's other home games include a pair against Lethbridge on Oct. 16-17 (both at noon, Clarke Stadium), while they face Mount Royal three times on the road (Sept. 19, Oct. 9-10).
"The schedule format is definitely different, but exciting at the same time with it being an all-Alberta division," said Cordeiro. "I think it will enhance the rivalries that our program has with a lot of these different institutions.
"We look forward to that opportunity and challenge. It's exciting."
With Canada West moving to a three division format for the 2021 season (also including the seven-team Pacific and four-team Prairie loops), the opening-round playoff matches get a little bit complicated.
The four Oct. 29-31 quarter-final games will feature Alberta 2 and Prairie 1, Pacific 3 and Alberta 1, Prairie 2 and Pacific 2, and Pacific 1 against a wildcard team (either Pacific 4 or Alberta 3, whichever team has the better record).
The Final Four is slated for Nov. 5-7 at the highest-remaining Pacific seed.
Cape Breton will host the U SPORTS women's soccer championship on Nov. 18-21.