Griffins' season over after stunning 2-0 loss to Victoria in Canada West quarter-final

Brynn Hobal was named MacEwan's MVP of the contest, driving play all afternoon after entering as a 36th-minute sub (Rebecca Chelmick photo).
Brynn Hobal was named MacEwan's MVP of the contest, driving play all afternoon after entering as a 36th-minute sub (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Displaying the grit that allowed them to challenge the best in the conference all season, the Victoria Vikes pulled off a 2-0 upset over the Canada West Prairie Division champion MacEwan Griffins on a freezing, blustery afternoon at Clareview Field.

Erin Jensen played hero for the visitors, scoring two goals as the Vikes punched their ticket to the Final Four next weekend at the highest-remaining Pacific Division seed.

"It felt great," said Jensen. "We definitely deserved to be here and deserved the win, especially after our last Play-In game. It was fun. It was fun to play in the cold and we played so well."

MacEwan hadn't lost at home all season, compiling a 10-2-2 record to finish first in the Prairie Division, but didn't have their top game on Saturday when it mattered most. 

Much of what they tried to do was gobbled up by a Victoria team that was bent on taking away all time and space.

"It's a tough one," said Griffins head coach Dean Cordeiro. "We didn't play our best game today and that's disappointing, for sure.

"They were the better team today. In our sport, that's the way it is. If you come out and don't have your best game, there's so much parity in our league that you're not going to get the result you're looking for. 

"I feel for the seniors in this group. They've given so much to this program. They deserve to go on a bit of a deeper run. But unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards this year."

Victoria was the aggressor from the start as the Griffins struggled to get out of their own end. After multiple chances in the attacking third, the Vikes finally opened the scoring in the 27th minute when Jensen found an open lane and sent a low ball inside the right post, past MacEwan keeper Sabrina Alexander.

"Our fullback and our right winger just pressed so well, and I was able to get on the end of it off a rebound unassisted," said Jensen. "I just hit the back of the net pretty low."

Anneke Odinga rushes upfield against Victoria on Saturday (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

MacEwan pushed back after that with a few chances, the best being Hannah Harper's free kick over the wall that Victoria goalkeeper Kayley Lidstone scooped up.

"I thought we didn't get in a rhythm early," said Cordeiro. "They scored and it woke us up. I loved our finish to the first half; thought we had a couple moments with some threatening balls coming in."

Unable to get the equalizer, the Griffins found themselves down 2-0 in the 62nd minute when the ball bounced off Ruby Nicholas out a collision just inside their half right to Jensen in on a breakaway. She made no mistake.

"It was a pretty big scramble at the top of the 18 and me and my right winger were about 50-50 for the ball against the centre-mid and I was able to come through and just smack it one time pretty much. It was great."

Victoria players celebrate Erin Jensen's second goal of the game in the 62nd minute (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

MacEwan had the ball plenty after that, but just couldn't find a way to get past Victoria's defenses, often getting stymied in midfield. 

"They were a tough team to break down, they pressed us like crazy," said Cordeiro. "And look at the weather we're dealing with – not the best conditions, strong winds. We just couldn't play our game, getting on balls and doing what we do. It was a lot on us, but credit to them, as well. They came in with a plan and got the job done. That's a good team and we wish them nothing but the best."

Alexander made four saves and was helped by a defensive save by Bryn Mortensen in the 82nd minute, while Lidstone made three saves for the Vikes.

MVPs on Saturday were Jensen for Victoria and 36th-minute sub Brynn Hobal for MacEwan. The fact the rookie midfielder was the Griffins' best player bodes well for a future that's bright for the program.

"I'm super proud of this group – lots of young players playing big minutes for this team," said Cordeiro. "The future is extremely bright. But right now, it's a tough pill to swallow. We have big goals here and we definitely wanted to punch our ticket in front of our fans to the Final Four. It's our first home loss of the season and you never want those things to happen in playoffs."