Griffins open preseason schedule with 3-0 win over visiting UNBC

MacEwan striker Meghan Oram turns the corner on UNBC defender Mara McCleary in Canada West preseason action on Friday in Edmonton (Jefferson Hagen photo).
MacEwan striker Meghan Oram turns the corner on UNBC defender Mara McCleary in Canada West preseason action on Friday in Edmonton (Jefferson Hagen photo).

Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – A whopping total of 25 different Griffins players saw action in the first preseason game of the women's soccer slate – a 3-0 win over visiting UNBC on Friday.

Head coach Dean Cordeiro substituted liberally throughout the match, including using several rookies and two goalkeepers – Emily Burns in the first half and Tianna Groeneveld in the second.

"Today, in this exercise, we got 25 players into the match, which is pretty crazy," Cordeiro acknowledged. "But the standard kept getting better as the game went on and it gives us an opportunity to see where some players are and not overworking others.

"Those are important things as we continue to grow in the league. We need to have a deep team and a deep roster. I think today it showed," he added. "All and all, a good first game of the year to kick start things."

MacEwan's leading goal scorer from a season ago, Suekiana Choucair, opened the scoring when her corner kick bent viciously through the box and clanged off the far post and in past UNBC keeper Brooke Molby.

With the Griffins threatening again a few minutes later, Timberwolves defender Rhianne Ferdinandi attempted to head the ball back to Molby, but it went over her head and into the open cage for an own goal.

MacEwan went up 3-0 just before halftime when Meagan Lemoine picked off a midfield cross, danced down the left side past two UNBC defenders and in alone before placing it neatly past Molby inside the right post.

The second half was a clean sheet for both squads, but wasn't without action. UNBC had solid chances from Tianna Pius and Madison Emmond that were stopped by Groeneveld, but MacEwan carried the bulk of the play. Choucair had a blast from just outside the box that was tipped out of the top corner by Molby, while several Griffins chances went wide, including one by rookie forward Oleceiya Gayle just before the end whistle.

"We worked hard in training in shaping the team this year, especially on the offensive side of things," said Cordeiro. "We wanted to see some of our attacking patterns and things we worked on in units of players come out in the match today. We absolutely saw a bunch of that. So, from a coaching staff, we're very happy."

Samantha Gouveia of MacEwan and Pius from UNBC were named the MVPs of the contest.

UNBC will meet Thompson Rivers University on Saturday (a.m.) as the exhibition tournament continues at Edmonton Soccer Association Complex (14940-142 St. NW). MacEwan will then host TRU on Sunday (11 a.m.). The Griffins' second team will play before that match (8:30 a.m.) against UNBC.

MacEwan is preparing for its home opener Sept. 9 vs. UBC-Okanagan (7 p.m., Jasper Place Bowl). They will also meet TRU on Sept. 11 (Noon, JP Bowl). Both games were originally scheduled for Kelowna and Kamloops, respectively, but have been switched to Edmonton due to concerns over air quality due to the ongoing B.C. wildfires.

The Griffins will instead close out the regular season in the Okanagan with games on Oct. 21 at UBCO and Oct. 22 at TRU.