Unable to bury multiple chances, Griffins fall 2-0 to Pandas

Amelia Russo, seen in action against UBC last weekend, was named MVP for the Griffins after a strong effort all over the pitch (UBC photo).
Amelia Russo, seen in action against UBC last weekend, was named MVP for the Griffins after a strong effort all over the pitch (UBC photo).

Jefferson Hagen 
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Unable to score on 17 shot attempts, nine of them on target, the Griffins women's soccer team gave up two second-half goals and fell 2-0 to the cross-town rival Alberta Pandas on a chilly Saturday afternoon at Foote Field.

The margins were small, though.

Wanda Czebreszuk scored the winner on a penalty shot in the 50th minute, just over two minutes after Brenna Paquin was stopped on a breakaway.

"Kind of on a broken play that was initially called offside, a secondary player got on the end of the ball and got taken down in the box and they got a penalty shot," said Griffins head coach Dean Cordeiro. "It happened so fast. I'd like to see the film. But for us, we've got to keep playing. We can't shut off. Next thing you know, we're down 1-nil after a good start to the first half."

With the Griffins pressing for the equalizer, they got caught in transition and Alberta found an insurance marker in the 64th as Layla Filipchuk beat Bianca Castillo.

"It was a tricky game, but those things happen," said Cordeiro, whose team outshot the Pandas 17-14 (9-5 on goal). "I think it was a bit of a wakeup call for us. Credit them, they're always tough to beat on their own pitch. It was their seniors day, so they were motivated and had some energy. 

"I'm excited that we get to respond in 24 hours and get to play them again on our home pitch. We'll be ready."

Alberta (4-4-3) will visit MacEwan (7-2-1) on Sunday (7 p.m., Clarke Stadium, Canada West TV).

The match will be Senior Day for the Griffins as graduates Maya Morrell, Castillo, Avery Brisebois, Mimi Vignjevic, Abbey Wright, and Hannah Supina will be feted afterward.

The Griffins also lost at Foote Field last season – a contest that served as a wakeup call, spurring them on to a sizzling finish where they ended with 10-straight wins (although seven of those were overturned on forfeit due to an eligibility issue).

Could Saturday's defeat – only the Griffins' second of the season – be a similar wakeup call?

"It's good for these learning moments to happen when we're still in season," said Cordeiro. "It helps us shape ourselves. We're trying to figure some things out, we know this. We're going to move some pieces and we're looking for people to step up. 

"If we can take any positives away from this, it's whenever you don't get the result you're looking for, you're learning. It's a wakeup call, and the team will be ready tomorrow to respond."

Amelia Russo was named game MVP for the Griffins, while both Morrell and rookie Brynn Hobal made their season debuts after recovering from off-season injuries.