Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
After opening the scoring and outshooting the University of Calgary Dinos on their own pitch, the MacEwan Griffins men's soccer team likely deserved a better fate in their Canada West season opener on Saturday.
"I think we had the better of them for most of the game," said Griffins head coach Adam Loga after his squad endured a 2-1 hard-luck defeat. "But that being said, give credit where credit is due. They played a good game as well. It was pretty even.
"We missed a penalty kick, we hit two posts. So, we were a bit unlucky today not to get anything out of it – unlucky to not at least get a draw," he added. "But the boys played well, we kept the ball well. It was a very, very good effort. They competed."
Third-year Griffins forward Lahai Mansaray – who led MacEwan in scoring last season – drew first blood in the 15th minute when he took a Jose Cruz pass and blasted a ball past Calgary keeper Colton Borle into the left side of the net.
"It was a great team build-up and he had a great strike from about 20-25 (yards) out," said Loga. "It was a good team goal and, of course, a great effort by Lahai."
Calgary equalized in the 27th minute when Jorge Leon Gomez beat Griffins keeper Josh Letendre off a Dondre Bailey cross, planting the ball back stick.
The Griffins had a glorious chance to regain the lead in the 41st minute, but freshman midfielder Christian Kosmin's penalty kick was stopped by Borle.
Then in the 73rd minute, Calgary's Bryce Connors tapped home a great pass from Dominik Zuczek for the game-winner.
Calgary had six shots on goal, compared to MacEwan's five, but the Griffins outshot the Dinos 15-10, including 7-2 in the first half. In his Canada West debut, Kosmin led the Griffins with five shots and two on goal in 78 minutes of action. He was among six newcomers that contributed 40 per cent of the team's minutes in the match.
So, the Griffins have plenty of positives to take into the second game of their opening weekend road trip – at Mount Royal on Sunday (1:30 p.m.). The Cougars also lost on Saturday, 1-0 to defending national champion Alberta.
"We're turning a new page in MacEwan men's soccer," said Loga, whose Griffins are putting their 2-11-3 record from last season in the rearview mirror. "We've got to earn our respect in this conference and I think it's kind of a goal of ours to do that day-in and day-out, game-in and game-out. Today we did that. I think we competed well.
"We're going to turn some heads and show the conference that we're for real," he added. "We're going to carry this momentum on into tomorrow against another playoff team. Mount Royal will be a good side and we'll go to work again in less than 24 hours here."