EDMONTON – The MacEwan University Griffins scored early and fought off a barrage of late corners from the visiting Mount Royal University Cougars to post a 1-0 win on Sunday that keeps them undefeated and atop the Canada West women's soccer table.
Camped out in the middle of the box, Meghan Oram one-timed a Meagan Lemoine pass under the bar in the ninth minute to give MacEwan the only goal they would need.
"I figured maybe I should start pulling my weight around here," joked the third-year striker from Calgary, who notched her first goal of the season. "Everyone's scoring goals and getting points – I thought I'd try to add to that.
"I think this is an important game for me – missing so much of last year to injury and just having a lot of setbacks," she added. "I wanted to prove to myself and to my teammates who've been working so hard for me – I wanted get one for them."
MacEwan (4-0-0) had numerous chances to add an insurance marker throughout the contest – outshooting the Cougars 18-9 (and 10-4 in shots on goal) – but it wasn't to be.
"We've got to do a better job of closing out the game, in terms of getting another goal and giving ourselves some breathing room," said Griffins head coach Dean Cordeiro. "Mount Royal's that team – they'll hang around. Credit to their staff, they worked their tails off. They're very tenacious, they played with an edge."
MacEwan's Jamie Erickson, who scored the winning goal in the Griffins' first-round playoff victory over MRU in 2016, headed one off the crossbar in the 41st minute. The powerful defender almost scored off another header in the 60th minute, but MRU keeper Miah Godek – who finished with nine saves – got a piece.
The Cougars had their share of corners – outpacing MacEwan 10-8 in the contest – but engineered few dangerous chances until late in the game.
Emily Sands' blast from 35 yards out rode the wind and dipped right before going over the crossbar, forcing Emily Burns to lunge and tip the ball over the net. Burns also dove to parry away a dangerous corner kick from MRU's Erin Holt in the 82nd minute.
Burns finished with a four-save shutout – her second-straight in Canada West action after also blanking the University of Alberta Pandas on Friday night.
MRU (2-1-1) loses for the first time this season. They charged hard late in the contest, but couldn't get the right break to tie it.
"That's what we wanted to do," said head coach Tino Fusco. "We wanted to create more chances in the second half and we thought we could with the wind.
"We focus on things one step at a time," he added. "I'm not displeased with this. There's a few things to clean up. It was a game we would have liked to have got some points, but we'll move on."
Next up for the Cougars is a road trip to Winnipeg to face the Wesmen (0-3-1) on Sept. 23 and the Manitoba Bisons (1-2-1) on Sept. 24.