Cougars strike back in second half to earn a tie with the Griffins

Cougars strike back in second half to earn a tie with the Griffins

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Griffins Sports Information

EDMONTON — Swirling snow and cold temperatures put a crimp in MacEwan's plans to gain on first-place Calgary in the Canada West Prairie Division standings Sunday afternoon.

So did the Mount Royal University Cougars.

Although the Calgary-based squad entered the contest three games below .500, the Cougars played the Griffins as tough as anyone has at Jasper Place Bowl this season and were full marks for a 1-1 draw.

"We didn't really expect to be under that much pressure in the back," said MacEwan goalkeeper Emily Burns, who had to make several diving saves on the afternoon. "For the most part we did our job. We just fell asleep for a bit and they took advantage of that and finished well."

MacEwan opened the scoring the 61st minute when Suekiana Choucair drilled a shot from 30 yards out that dribbled through keeper Cailyn Leeson's legs and in.

But MRU didn't quit and were rewarded in the 73rd minute when Emily Sands split the defence and rifled a left-footed shot inside the left post.

"They were hungrier than we were, they were first to more balls than we were and it caught up to us as the game went on," said MacEwan head coach Dean Cordeiro. 

Burns had to make a few big-time saves in the second half, including in the 66th minute when Danielle Lugotoff broke in alone and ripped a shot that forced the MacEwan keeper to jump backwards to catch.

Late in the half, she dove to stop the would-be game-winner off Erin Holt's boot.

"I think definitely our play was a little bit sloppy at times, but for the most part we were able to play our game," said Burns, who finished with seven saves. "Our game plan changed a little bit because of the conditions – play more direct – but it's always hard."

Indeed, the conditions, which had crews clearing snow off the turf up until the first whistle, hampered MacEwan's technical approach.

"The conditions didn't help," said Cordeiro. "When you're a technical team like we are, it changes the dynamic of the game completely for us."

That's still little consolation for a result that feels like defeat for the Griffins, now 5-2-2 on the campaign.

"We've got to capitalize on our opportunities and get into a situation where we put more quality attempts on target like we did in Manitoba," said Cordeiro.

"I guess it's a good thing when a tie feels like a loss for the group. You're not conceding full points, but you're left wanting more. This is going to make us hungrier for Tuesday when we drive down to Mount Royal."

The teams will meet in the second-half of the series on Tuesday night at MRU at 7:15 p.m.