Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
The MacEwan Griffins' offence needed just six minutes to undo a 2-0 deficit to the Mount Royal Cougars on Sunday, scoring three late goals to record a 3-2 victory, their first of the Canada West men's soccer season.
"Honestly, we did well for the full 90 (minutes), we just needed a spark or a break to happen," said Griffins head coach Adam Loga after his squad carried the play the majority of the match.
"We got one and just kept riding a wave, and the momentum just carried itself."
That spark came off the boot of Lahai Mansaray, who snuck into an 81st-minute scramble, found a window and slotted it bottom left corner past MRU keeper Kyran Valley.
Just over a minute later, Josh Samuel blasted a shot from the top of the box and it deflected into the cage off a MRU defender.
Then Mansaray struck again in the 87th, tapping in a rebound for the game-winner.
Amazingly, it was the dynamic attacking player's third goal of the opening weekend after he also tallied against Calgary on Saturday. Mansaray had four in the entire 2016 campaign, which led the Griffins in scoring, but he seems eager to take his game to another level this season.
"We changed his position this weekend," noted Loga. "We dropped him a line lower into the midfield and he continued to be dynamic for us.
"Lahai has something to prove. He wants to be a premier player in this conference and he's got to show it. He's got to earn it and he did it this weekend."
MacEwan started the game with poise, controlling the tempo for the first quarter of an hour, forcing Cougars keeper Valley to stand tall as he parried away a couple of early attempts on net.
Despite the Griffins holding possession for the majority of the half, it was MRU who put the first goal on the board. In the 35th minute, Richard Nyavor headed one home off a corner kick past sprawling Griffins keeper Dory Elliott, who was making his first Canada West start.
MRU went up 2-0 in the 41st minute when Kylan Johnson was taken down by Elliott in the box, leading to a penalty kick. Justin Anderson-Louch, who also drew an assist on Nyavor's tally, put it away to set up what seemed to be an insurmountable lead for the home-standing Cougars.
But the Griffins came roaring out of the gates, controlling the tempo from the second-half kickoff. The Cougars bent but didn't break … until Rohin Nazari was sent off on a red card in the 60th minute after taking a shot on net after the whistle.
Up a man, MacEwan took over from there, rallying to record their first win of the campaign. They sit at 1-1-0 in the standings, while MRU falls to 0-2-0.
"The guys did well," said Loga. "We were a bit unlucky yesterday and we did well today. We kept staying the course. It's good to get three (points)."
MacEwan will take that momentum into their home-opening weekend as Saskatchewan (2-0) and Lethbridge (0-2) visit on Sept. 2-3, respectively (both games at noon, Jasper Place Bowl).
- With files from Dan Khavkin, MRU