Dan Khavkin, Cougar Athletics
CALGARY- The Mount Royal University Cougars played hosts to the first Crowchild Classic match of the year against cross-town rivals the University of Calgary Dinos. The game was a hard fought battle between the two Calgarian sides but ultimately the match finished at 0-0.
The first half saw the visitors control most of the possession and the Cougars had a few miscommunications in the first half which almost proved costly. Cougars keeper Cailyn Leeson was perfect on the day making a total of nine saves.
The Dinos drew the first chance, inside five minutes, after a defensive miscommunication lead to a Dino forward jumping in between the defender and keeper and chipping a shot over the bar.
Later Leeson was forced to be on her toes again, lunging backwards to tip the oncoming ball, shot from distance, over the bar at the last second.
Afterwards, Calgary Dino Natalie Arnett weaved in between two Cougar defenders and found herself alone against Leeson. She drew the unsuspecting keeper to the top of her box, dribbled around her but ran out of real estate. This forced her to strike the ball against the near post instead of into the open goal.
Fourth year forward Maddison Fritze had two opportunities to put her Dinos team on the board first but an alert Leeson stopped both chances in rapid succession.
The Cougars were a completely different team in the second half. Saskatchewan native Keelin Kennedy lead the Cougar's offence early in the second half. After a great passing play, she stormed toward the Dinos goal. Dinos goalie Lauren Houghton blocked the first shot with her shins and caught the rebound whilst on the ground.
Rookie Julien Ramirez caused a stir in the Dinos back end, pressing alone and then stripping the ball off a defender. With the goal in sight, she directed a ball to the far post where Janai Mertens extended her leg but couldn't connect boot to ball.
Moments later, Fritze and Leeson duelled yet again with the Cougar keeper getting enough of a hand to the ball to steer the oncoming shot over her head and wide of the net.
The back and forth affair had both supporting sides at the Cougar Stadium Field on the edge of their seats as both teams kept hitting each other on counter attacks.
A scramble in front of the Cougars zone was arguably the best chance for the Dinos in the half. Cougar's centre back Quinn Hardstaff made a goalline clearance in the most unusual way possible. She took a shot to the face in a heroic attempt to keep her side level.
The pressure kept mounting inside the Cougar's half as a Dino forward rung a shot off the crossbar just moments after Hardstaff's goalline clearance.
On the ensuing counter attack, Martens hit a shot from far outside the box and forced Houghton to dive back and tip the curled shot out of bounds.
Calgary kept the pressure on MRU in injury time but a hard-nosed Cougar defence kept their composure and picked up their first clean sheet of the season.
Mount Royal travels northwest to Prince George where they'll play UNBC on September 15th with kick-off set for 6:30 PM Pacific Time. Meanwhile, Calgary hosts Trinity Western on September 16th with game time scheduled for 12:00 PM Mountain Standard Time.