Newcomers ignite Griffins' offence in dominant home-opener win over visiting Heat

Brittany Costa scores the opening goal bar-down in the 22nd minute on Friday night. She later added an assist in MacEwan's 3-0 victory (Robert Antoniuk photo).
Brittany Costa scores the opening goal bar-down in the 22nd minute on Friday night. She later added an assist in MacEwan's 3-0 victory (Robert Antoniuk photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Midway through the Griffins women's soccer home opener on Friday night, a daring hare darted precariously in between the formations.

Turns out the Griffins didn't need any rabbit's foot for more luck.

Thoroughly dominating the under-the-lights Canada West affair, they were full marks for a 3-0 win over visiting UBC-Okanagan.

"It was pretty clinical," said Griffins head coach Dean Cordeiro. "I thought we could have had a couple more as well.

"But credit UBCO – they're a very solid team, well coached. They pushed us, for sure, today."

Playing in her conference debut, freshman Brittany Costa had a goal and an assist, while fellow rookie Raeghan McCarthy also scored. And Meagan Lemoine returned to the team in a big way – scoring a goal, adding a helper and proving so dominant on throw-ins that they became set pieces.

"We've got to work on a few things to clean up, but we discussed adding some firepower to the mix and I think we've gotten that.," said Cordeiro, whose team finished fourth in Canada West a season ago, despite boasting one of the league's worst shooting percentages. "Three different goal scorers today – two of them freshmen, that's very important, and then Meagan Lemoine on her return scoring a big goal for us today.

"We had a lot of key performances today, but we've just got to keep this momentum going."

Lemoine, who led the Griffins in scoring in 2015 before taking a year off, engineered MacEwan's first big chance when her sideline throw-in went 30 yards into the box before Jamie Erickson shot it high and wide.

After a sustained bout of MacEwan pressure, Lemoine, in the 22nd minute, clashed with a defender at the top of the box and the ball spun loose right onto the boot of Brittany Costa. Her inspired blast went bar down in the top right corner past diving UBCO keeper Francesca Balletta.

"Me and Meagan Lemoine went and trapped the girl," she said of the UBCO defender. "She got the ball off the goal kick and it kind of came to my feet. I took a touch and shot, just beat the goalie.

"It was a good experience to have with all my teammates getting me to that point. It was a big accomplishment for me."

The goal gave the Griffins some breathing room. But they kept the pressure on throughout the match, outshooting the visiting Heat 16-3 (and 9-2 in shots on goal). UBCO, in fact, didn't record a shot on net until the 79th minute.

By then the game was well out of reach.

Lemoine made it 2-0 Griffins in the 59th minute she beat Balletta to a loose ball after it deflected off a defender and blasted it into the twine.

Just a minute and a half after that, McCarthy, a second-half substitute, put the game away when she sprinted onto an open offering and deftly chipped the ball over the head of the challenging keeper.

From there, the score could have been worse – Balletta made a great 77th-minute stop off Lemoine and Suekiana Choucair hit the crossbar in the 79th.

UBC-Okanagan's best chance of the game came in the 90th minute when their game MVP Ally Ferronato got off a good shot that Emily Burns stopped. Burns earned the clean sheet on two saves.

"I was pleased with some of the stuff the girls have done," said Heat coach Craig Smith. "We asked them to take risks and that's what happens. So, at the end of the day, that's on me, that's not on the girls.

"But they were thinking the game and playing the way we (want to) play the game, so I'm very proud of them."

UBCO (0-1-0) next visits Prince George-based UNBC (1-0-0) on Sunday, while MacEwan will host Thompson Rivers on Sunday (Noon, Jasper Place Bowl).