Unrewarded for lion's share of pressure in the attacking third, Griffins settle for 1-1 draw with Vikes

Alyx Henderson, named player of the game for the Griffins, carries the ball past a Victoria defender (Joel Kingston photo).
Alyx Henderson, named player of the game for the Griffins, carries the ball past a Victoria defender (Joel Kingston photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Three points were there for the taking as the Griffins poured on the pressure in Victoria's end for much of the game. 

Unfortunately, despite outshooting the visitors 14-3 and 10-2 on goal, they were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in Canada West women's soccer action Sunday afternoon at Clarke Stadium.

"I think when we look back, we'd want to have a little bit better quality on goal," said MacEwan head coach Dean Cordeiro. "We definitely created big moments. Full marks to them. They came up with a plan. They're a good team – very well organized and they pose a lot of issues. They have good team speed and off-ball movement. 

"Nothing but good things to say about them, but when we reflect, we want to create higher-quality opportunities from all the territory we had in the final third. We just needed to be a little bit better today."

Grace Mwasalla opened the scoring in the 51st minute when she got on the end of a Hannah Supina through ball, beat two defenders and volleyed it in far side past Vikes goalkeeper Kayley Lidstone. Her eighth goal of the season was highlight-reel and reminiscent of others she has already scored in 2023.

Grace Mwasalla volleys the ball in for her eighth of the season in the 51st minute (Joel Kingston photo).

"That's what Grace can do when we get her into advanced positions," said Cordeiro. "she's a big-time player and she scored another big-time goal for us. It's a quality finish. 

"We always can rely on her for a big goal. It was a great ball in behind by Hannah Supina and I think that's her second or third she's found Grace on. There's a very good connection and partnership between them."

The crowd had just settled down after uproariously celebrating the tally before the contest was tied again. If you blinked, you would have missed it.

Just over two minutes after conceding, Victoria capitalized out of an injury stoppage, as a MacEwan giveaway sent Ruby Nicholas in alone. She placed her fourth of the season neatly inside the right post past keeper Sabrina Alexander who had come out to cut down the angle.

"It was a weird sequence of events because a player on their team had a major injury and all of a sudden there was a dropped ball before they could even make a sub," said Cordeiro. 

"The ball was dropped at our player's foot, so it was game on, but somehow we turned the ball over and it's in the back of our net before we could even think about anything else going on. But that's the game sometimes. You've got to be switched on. We made a little bit of an error there and we'll learn from that, for sure."

MacEwan had multiple other golden chances to net the winner, including Mwasalla deking out a defender in the box in the 57th and sending a far-side blast that Lidstone dove to get fingers on.

Hannah Harper had two narrow first half misses, and Alyx Henderson had an open shot right before half, but Lidstone was up to the task, making one of her nine saves in the game.

"I think we just learned that we have to place it over power, not get too greedy and make the most of our chances," said Henderson, who was named player of the game for the Griffins.

"It motivates us more going up against UBC on Friday. It makes us a little angry for that game."

MacEwan's next action is on the road to the West Coast where they'll face the only other unbeaten team in the conference – the 6-0-0 Thunderbirds on Friday, Sept. 22. They will also visit UNBC on Sunday.