Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
SASKATOON – Familiar woes added up to a 4-0 loss for the MacEwan Griffins men's soccer team during a visit to the Saskatchewan Huskies on Thursday afternoon.
Struggles on set pieces, momentum-sapping goals conceded at inopportune times and untimely fouls proved to be their undoing in the rare weekday matinee contest.
"In the first 45 (minutes), we missed three or four chances early," said head coach Adam Loga. "Our lack of finish woes set us back. We put one or two of those away early, it's a different game.
"Of course, we conceded their first two goals on set pieces again. Again, broken record, but we're kind of our own worst enemy – not finishing chances and not defending set pieces well."
Saskatchewan opened the scoring in the 42nd minute after Kwame Opoku converted on his third penalty kick of the season. The Huskies were awarded the kick after Griffins' keeper Dory Elliott was handed a yellow card for a tackle in the box.
Saskatchewan continued the momentum, scoring just three minutes into the second half on a Joseph Powell free kick just outside the box. A Griffins' hand ball set the Huskies up with the shot and Powell beat Elliott in the top right corner.
On a trip back down the pitch, MacEwan had thought to cut the Huskies' lead in half in the 50th minute but were called offside. On the Griffins' next chance, Christian Kosmin almost bent the ball over goalkeeper Patrick Pranger's head, but he was able to get a hand on it to keep it out.
With the Griffins pressing, attempting to rally for a result, the Huskies made them pay with two more – rookie Diego Godoy in the 88th minute beating Elliott low right and Tyler Redl in added time after the ball found his foot in a scrum of players in front of the net.
"Obviously at the end we were trying to push for something, so we left ourselves more exposed because we went for it," said Loga. "We could have sat back and played the same way and kept a 2-0 result, but we wanted to go get something out of today."
Pranger made six saves for his fourth shutout of the season. Elliott finished the match making two saves. Saskatchewan outshot the Griffins 17-10.
MacEwan was without starting defenders Sean Douglas (suspension), Josh Samuel (injury) and key rookie forward Lewis McDowell (injury) in the contest – losses that definitely hurt their chances. Now 1-7-1, the Griffins will at least get Douglas back for Sunday's visit to Lethbridge (2-6-2) and possibly the other two, who are day-to-day.
Loga noted there were some positive takeaways as they prepare for the visit to a Pronghorns team they lost 2-1 to on Sept. 3 despite thoroughly dominating the run of play.
"In the first 45 we executed our game plan," he said. "We were down 1-0 going into the half. Being quick to concede early in the second half seems to be an Achilles' Heel of ours. But we played them well.
"They're a good team. We were right there with them, missing chances early. Again, we have a young team and there's lots of learning moments," he stressed. "They will be taught."
-With files from Nicole Betker, Huskies Athletics