Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – The MacEwan University Griffins scored early and fought off a barrage of late corners from the visiting Mount Royal University Cougars to post a 1-0 win on Sunday that keeps them undefeated and atop the Canada West women's soccer table.
"I figured maybe I should start pulling my weight around here," joked the third-year striker from Calgary, who notched her first goal of the season. "Everyone's scoring goals and getting points – I thought I'd try to add to that.
"I think this is an important game for me – missing so much of last year to injury and just having a lot of setbacks," she added. "I wanted to prove to myself and to my teammates who've been working so hard for me – I wanted get one for them."
MacEwan (4-0-0) had numerous chances to add an insurance marker throughout the contest – outshooting the Cougars 18-9 (and 10-4 in shots on goal) – but it wasn't to be.
"We've got to do a better job of closing out the game, in terms of getting another goal and giving ourselves some breathing room," said Griffins head coach Dean Cordeiro. "Mount Royal's that team – they'll hang around. Credit to their staff, they worked their tails off. They're very tenacious, they played with an edge."
MacEwan's Jamie Erickson, who scored the winning goal in the Griffins' first-round playoff victory over MRU in 2016, headed one off the crossbar in the 41st minute. The powerful defender almost scored off another header in the 60th minute, but MRU keeper Miah Godek – who finished with nine saves – got a piece.
The Cougars had their share of corners – outpacing MacEwan 10-8 in the contest – but engineered few dangerous chances until late in the game.
Emily Sands' blast from 35 yards out rode the wind and dipped right before hitting the net, forcing Emily Burns to lunge and tip the ball over the crossbar. Burns also dove to parry away a dangerous corner kick from MRU's Erin Holt in the 82nd minute.
"You know they're going to get one or two chances late in a game because they're very persistent," said Cordeiro. "We've got to be ready. Credit our back line, our keeper and how we defend as a unit. We were up to the task.
"There were a couple of opportunities late, but Emily Burns was clinical getting a hand on a couple of late chances."
Burns finished with a four-save shutout – her second-straight in Canada West action after also blanking the University of Alberta Pandas on Friday night.
MRU (2-1-1) loses for the first time this season. They charged hard late in the contest, but couldn't get the right break to tie it.
"That's what we wanted to do," said head coach Tino Fusco. "We wanted to create more chances in the second half and we thought we could with the wind.
"We focus on things one step at a time," he added. "I'm not displeased with this. There's a few things to clean up. It was a game we would have liked to have got some points, but we'll move on."
Next up for the Cougars is a road trip to Winnipeg to face the Wesmen (0-3-1) on Sept. 23 and the Manitoba Bisons (1-2-1) on Sept. 24.
MacEwan next hosts Fraser Valley (1-2-1) on Sept. 22 and Trinity Western (2-2-0) Sept. 24 where they'll try to remain unbeaten.
"It's a great feeling. It's a great start," said Oram. "I think we really needed this.
"I think we just have to make sure we don't let this get too ahead of us and make sure we focus – just keep preparing for every game that comes."