Dan Khavkin, Cougar Athletics
CALGARY- An early three-goal offensive onslaught was enough for Mount Royal to pick up three crucial points to keep their playoff dreams alive with a 3-1 win over the MacEwan Griffins Sunday afternoon at SAIT field.
With the 3-1 Cougar win today, MacEwan are effectively eliminated from playoff contention. For Mount Royal, Saskatchewan and Calgary along with the chance to host a playoff game, are all within reach.
Cougar head coach Ryan Gyaki commented on the importance of the win.
"These last games are important and will determine our season so we're all excited. This is why we love our league, every game matters and it shows at the end of the season," he says.
"We played with energy and we saw it on the pitch."
Travis MacPhee began the offensive run just five minutes into the fixture. He got enough of a touch from a corner piece to fool everyone in the box and Griffin goalkeeper Seth Johnstone.
In the 14th, Togolese striker René Douvon nicked in an easy goal to double the MRU lead, benefiting from poor communication from the Griffin defence line resulting in the ball bouncing over everyone and leaving the net wide open.
Finally, Orest Ndabaneze scored his team-leading fifth goal on the season, having the ball bounce to him and found enough time to calculate a finesse shot past a diving Johnstone 31 minutes in.
The Griffins got one back just before the end of the half. Zachary Rochat put enough power behind his driven free kick past Cougar keeper Kyran Valley to trim the MacEwan deficit at to two heading near the break at the 41st.
Both squads began the second period with more physicality and were dictated by a sense of urgency with the match having such an impact on the playoff picture.
The Cougars held their own on defence while pressing the Griffins when given the chance.
MacEwan found themselves down to 10 men adding insult to injury to an already dire situation. Tyrell Leslie got sent off after the referees held a discussion just after the MacEwan forward hit an MRU player prior to a set piece.
The Griffins couldn't muster much else moving forward and MRU held on for the win.
MacEwan are set to square off against city rivals Albert to conclude their campaign while MRU travels down to Lethbridge and Saskatoon next weekend for another set of key matchups on the road to playoffs.