Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
High drama doesn't often get scripted in movies better than it did on a field in north Edmonton on Friday night.
Down a man, bending but not breaking under tremendous Alberta pressure and the raucous Clareview Community Centre crowd ringing in in their ears, the Griffins women's soccer team won a corner kick with no time left on the clock.
With extra time nearly through, Suekiana Choucair sneakily soft-footed it off a set play to Brittany Costa and she unleashed a 30-yard lethal screamer that beat Pandas keeper Cassie Bazzarelli to the far top corner.
Game over. 1-0 MacEwan.
"I knew there was a lot of pressure on me. I just knew I had to execute," said Costa, who now has three goals in this, her freshman Canada West season. "I couldn't let the team down.
"We've been waiting for that corner kick from that side the whole game. It was our one shot and we took care of it. We did what we had to do."
Griffins head coach Dean Cordeiro said they drew that play up in practice yesterday.
"You couldn't have asked for a better situation – literally the last kick of the game and we were able to run a little set piece we designed," he said. "Brittany Costa, full marks on the quality. What a finish, what an atmosphere.
"We thank our alumni, our fans. It was buzzing here and that's what it should be about in U Sports. I was just excited to get another three points."
With the victory, MacEwan (3-0-0) remains undefeated and atop the Canada West ranks, while Alberta (1-1-1) suffered its first defeat of the young campaign.
In fact that was the first goal that's beaten Bazzarelli this season after she earned a pair of shutouts last weekend.
Pandas head coach Liz Jepsen's troops came out fired up for this one as they had still had a bad taste in their mouths from a 3-0 defeat to MacEwan in the final game of the 2016 regular season. They were fast on the ball and physical, carrying the play early in the first half and for most of the final 45 minutes.
"I think it's a real sign of the times for soccer development in Edmonton to have really two fine teams playing against each other," said Jepsen. "It was a battle with amazing players on the field.
"You know, soccer's a cruel game. Sometimes you get scored on against the run of play, but, really, that was a well-executed set play, so you know what, they earned the win in the overtime."
Although Alberta outshot MacEwan 18-8 (7-4 on net), they couldn't solve MacEwan keeper Emily Burns, who was in fine form. She made an all-world diving save off Alberta's Morgan Corbett in the 53rd minute and made several other tough stops look elementary.
"She had that one save – she saved us," said Costa. "If that was in, it would have been a completely different game. That was a game-changer right there."
MacEwan freshman Raegan McCarthy was hit with a yellow card in the 21st minute and was shown another one in the 75th, putting MacEwan short a man for the final 15 minutes and change.
"I thought it was a bit harsh for our #11 Raegan McCarthy to get two fouls and be sent off in that manner in a game of this magnitude, but that's the way it is," said Cordeiro.
"We had to make some adjustments and change our system to make sure we could defend properly. We've always been very good at that."
Bend but don't break. The good teams always do that.
MacEwan now prepares for Sunday's match against visiting MRU (Noon, Jasper Place Bowl), while Alberta visits UNBC on Sunday (1:15 local time).