Erickson nets three points to lead Griffins past Timberwolves 3-2 in road doubleheader opener

Brittany Costa carries the ball upfield against UNBC's Jenna Wild on Friday night (Rich Abney photo)
Brittany Costa carries the ball upfield against UNBC's Jenna Wild on Friday night (Rich Abney photo)

MacEwan Athletics and UNBC Athletics

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – Jamie Erickson scored twice and added an assist, which was just enough for the MacEwan Griffins to hold off the upstart UNBC Timberwolves 3-2 in Canada West women's soccer action on Friday night.

"This time of year, every game is so massive. Everyone's jockeying for position," said MacEwan head coach Dean Cordeiro, whose team improves to 6-2-1 and keeps pace with the top teams in the Pacific Division. "For us on the road, we'll take three points.

"Obviously, we didn't want to concede two times today. We felt like we played a pretty strong match, but they were opportunistic. Fortunately, for us, we scored three. Our goal scoring has been stepping up, which is nice to see."

After early chances at both ends, it was the Griffins who were rewarded for their sustained pressure in the 16th minute. A corner kick from Suekiana Choucair found the head of Erickson, who made no mistake in beating TWolves keeper Brooke Molby.

Seven minutes later, a free kick from Erickson led to a scramble in front of Molby, who had little chance on a Salma Kamel effort from just five yards out. It was Kamel's first of the season, stretching the lead to 2-nil.

Erickson also scored in the 83rd minute on, you guessed it, a back-post header off a corner-kick, this time the assist going to rookie Hannah Supina – the first point of her Canada West career.

"On set pieces we were really strong today, and that is something we have been working on in practice," said Erickson, who leads the Griffins with four goals this season. "I thought our forwards went on some good runs, putting the backline under pressure, which helps for sure."

Third year Paige Payne scored twice for the UNBC Timberwolves in a losing effort – in the 39th minute off a quick transition from a MacEwan free kick and in extra time on a penalty kick. She now has seven goals on the season.

"The goals are coming because the team is coming together," said Payne, who added another one on a penalty kick in extra time. "We have an attacking mindset, we are working hard in the box, and it is a team effort."

In the second half, the Griffins applied pressure to the Timberwolves' back end, creating a number of opportunities. Molby was up to the task, turning away chances from Raeghan McCarthy and Kamel.

The TWolves turned the tables and found themselves with numerous chances off the feet of Payne, Sofia Jones, and Kiana Swift. Emily Burns was there with timely stops on all those chances, maintaining the visitors' lead.

"UNBC definitely has some very fast forwards, so keeping them under control was key today," said Erickson. "We were trying to possess the ball, swing it around, and tire them out."

Erickson's second goal stood up as the winner and Cordeiro couldn't say enough about how she played, naming her player of the game.

"Jamie Erickson … I'm proud of her," he said. "She was rock solid defensively. She doesn't often get enough credit for what she does in defending in front of our goal. Then to contribute with two goals and an assist, she was clearly our POG."

The match also marked the return to the lineup for Griffins captain Kristyn Smart, who had been out of the lineup since tearing her ACL early in the 2017 season.

"We've got to ease her in and watch her minutes," said Cordeiro. "But it was the perfect time to get her into the game. The game was a one-goal game at the time. It gives us a breath of fresh air back there.

"When she's out there, the game just slows down so much. We can see how we can play through the middle with her a lot more. She just kind of locks it down for us."

The teams will meet again in Prince George on Saturday night (7 p.m. MT, Canada West TV).