Pair of set piece goals the difference as Griffins push No. 1-ranked UBC before falling 2-0

Ella Fownes battles UBC's Katalin Tolnai in action between two of Canada West's top teams on Friday (Jacob Mallari photo).
Ella Fownes battles UBC's Katalin Tolnai in action between two of Canada West's top teams on Friday (Jacob Mallari photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

VANCOUVER, B.C. – With a lively start, the MacEwan Griffins women's soccer team had the No. 1-ranked UBC Thunderbirds on the back foot to start an intriguing contest of the final unbeaten teams in the Canada West women's soccer ranks Friday night.

Unfortunately, they couldn't capitalize off that energy and conceded two second-half goals off set pieces to suffer their first defeat of the season, 2-0.

UBC improves to 7-0-0, while MacEwan drops to 6-1-1.

"Set pieces, unfortunately, were the deciding factor in the game today," said MacEwan head coach Dean Cordeiro. "Very, very happy with our group. I thought we played an outstanding first half. We went toe to toe with the No. 1 team in the nation and were unlucky not to be up by one at the half. We didn't capitalize and it was a fight in the second half, back and forth."

UBC opened the scoring in the 58th minute on a corner kick when Sarah Rollins found the ball in heavy traffic in front of Bianca Castillo and put it home. 

"I'd like to see it again," said Cordeiro. "There was a lot of traffic in front of Bianca and I thought maybe she was held back a little bit, but bottom line is they found it, they went up 1-nil and it changed the game. 

"We ended up pushing on and getting numbers in advanced positions to try and get it back. Unfortunately, we gave up a PK that gave them an insurance marker."

Nisa Reehal was taken down in the box in the 67th minute and Ella Sunde made good on the PK.

Despite the defeat, it's a mid-season litmus test that the Griffins can certainly learn from.

"We can take a lot (out of this)," said Cordeiro. "Sometimes you have to lose before you can win. We said that years and years ago and we've had a ton of success since. 

"For us (this year), we have a lot of young players in the lineup, we're trying to find our way. We're on the road, it's a very tough place to play and they're a good team. The energy we brought and the drive we had, particularly to kick off this game, I don't think they'd seen that this season thus far. 

"It's a good eye-opener for our group just to see where they're at in comparison," he added. "We're going to turn the page and move on, but we'll be ready when we face them again, that's for sure."

Cordeiro named defender Anneke Odinga – a reigning U SPORTS second team all-star – his player of the game.

"It was a tough choice today; we had a lot of strong performances," he said. "We ended up selecting Anneke Odinga, who I thought was just rock solid in defence. They have a couple players who are very tricky and make things happen. 

"Annie just shut them down time after time and was able to drive play and get into advanced positions to help our team create some opportunities."

Bianca Castillo made six saves in her first action of the season (Jacob Mallari photo).

Castillo made six saves in her first action of the season since joining the team a week-and-a-half ago.

"Shout out to Bianca, who played unbelievable first game back," said Cordeiro. "She was just next level in goal for us. She made a couple big saves to keep it close. 

"Unfortunately, on the set pieces, there's nothing you can do, but I'm very happy with Bianca's performance in her first game back."

The Griffins head north to meet Prince George-based UNBC on Sunday (3:15 p.m. MT, Canada West TV).