Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – Sarah Riddle could soon add 'clutch' to her middle name if this keeps up.
The fourth-year defender scored another late game-winning goal – the second time that's happened this season – to seal a 2-1 win for the MacEwan Griffins in the second half of a Canada West women's soccer road doubleheader at the UNBC Timberwolves on Saturday night.
"She was amazing all weekend long as a 1v1 defender and just building up play," said MacEwan head coach Dean Cordeiro. "Today, again, she was a rock defensively, sticking tackles, intercepting balls and obviously scored the game-winning goal right when we needed it."
Riddle scored the first regular season goal of her Canada West career back on Sept. 8 in Kamloops, B.C. when her 89th-minute tally allowed the Griffins to beat Thompson Rivers University 2-1.
On Saturday, her winner came in the 84th minute when a scramble ensued off of Hannah Supina's corner kick and Riddle found it, blasting it past UNBC keeper Madi Doyle.
The tally gave MacEwan a deserved result after they outshot the Timberwolves 23-4 (9-3 in shots on goal). It also earned them a weekend road sweep of UNBC and improved their record to 7-2-1, allowing them to keep pace with Pacific Division powers Trinity Western (8-1-0) and UBC (8-2-0).
"At the end of the day, we're on the road and at this time of the year every game is so critical," said Cordeiro. "Everybody is playing their best footie this time of year, as well.
"We're just elated to get the job done and get another three points. Bank that and obviously come back home with six points. Now we set our preparations for Lethbridge and Calgary this weekend."
MacEwan will visit Lethbridge (1-8-1) on Oct. 13 (noon) and travel to Calgary (9-1-0) on Oct. 14 (noon, both games on Canada West TV).
On Saturday at UNBC, the Griffins opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Salma Kamel took a Brittany Costa feed and scored her second goal in as many games, beating Doyle with a low short side shot.
"Great individual play by Sammy (Gouveia) to win the ball in our end and start the buildup," said Cordeiro. "We got a bunch of passes strung and finally we get Brittany Costa in space and she threads an amazing ball to Salma Kamel, who comes off the edge and just slots a perfectly-placed finish to get things going."
After that, MacEwan had numerous other opportunities, but struggled to hit the target.
"We were a little bit off the mark in terms of execution," said Cordeiro. "We had some really good looks and some great opportunities. But today we were a little bit off the mark in terms of our final ball towards goal. That's what put us in that situation being up by just one. When you're up by one it just takes one little break."
That came in the 71st minute when UNBC's terrific talent Paige Payne scored her third goal of the weekend and eighth of the season to equalize for the Timberwolves.
"Credit Paige Payne, she's a top player in this conference," said Cordeiro. "We cut her out of the game completely, but she gets one opportunity and scores a great goal on an individual effort. Next thing you know we're 1-1.
"To be honest, it was a bit of a wakeup call for us when that goal occurred. It really woke us up. From there, it was pedal to the metal. We had corner kick after corner kick opportunity and it was just a matter of time."
It was Riddle time, actually, which is something the Griffins can get used to.
"She just plays so many big minutes for us and is a huge part of what we do in terms of our buildup," said Cordeiro. "Again, when you're a defender you don't often get as much credit, but she had timely runs forward and her shot's been on point. She had a couple of other really good looks today and was maybe unfortunate not to get another goal. She came close a couple of times."
Following the game, it was announced that fourth-year Griffins midfielder Suekiana Choucair cracked the top 10 in the Canada West record book for career shots on goal. Three of them on Saturday gives her 90 in her career. Her best chance on Saturday – one of her eight shots – came in 39th minute when she launched a 20-yard offering off the crossbar.
"It was difficult playing them two nights in a row," said Choucair of UNBC. "We knew the tendencies, and both fixed what we struggled with yesterday. Every game is like a playoff game now. Everyone is fighting for their lives, it is going to be hard every single game."
-With files from UNBC Athletics