Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Playing in the final regular season home game of her illustrious five-year career, Griffins captain Kristen Skrundz snuffed out UNBC's final chance to preserve a 1-0 victory for MacEwan on Sunday.
The fullback, who has been with the Griffins since 2013, was feted after the contest – along with graduating goalkeeper Madison Perry – as the joyous home side celebrated a weekend sweep of the Timberwolves.
"She was our MVP today – what a performance," said MacEwan head coach Dean Cordeiro of Skrundz. "Her ability to intercept balls, get forward, just lead by example – even the last play there to break up the play. It was remarkable.
"It's crazy how fast it's been. It feels like she just walked in our university doors last year. Five years has come and went with our final regular season home game.
"She'll go out in style. Every year she's been with the program, we've made it one step farther and we hope to do the same this year."
Meagan Lemoine had MacEwan's lone goal – in the 82nd minute – as the Griffins improve to 6-4-0 on the season. Their weekend sweep of the Timberwolves (2-7-1) snapped a four-game losing streak and rekindled their chances of a home Canada West playoff date.
"Six point this time of year, everything is so tight and competitive – (teams) are vying for spots – we're going to be happy about that," said Cordeiro.
"There's still a lot of work to do. We're in Manitoba next weekend and we've got to continue to trend upward."
At a different field (Jasper Place Bowl) than Saturday's wind-hampered contest, the breeze settled down to a much more manageable 15 km/hour on Sunday – favouring UNBC in the first half and MacEwan in the second – and both teams dug into their game plans for a solid show of competitive soccer.
"Glad there was no wind," said UNBC head coach Neil Sedgwick. "Then it turned into a game where two teams could try to play.
"It was great to watch the efforts of our experienced players as we come to the end of the season. And then some younger players, who haven't really had a chance to play, they came out and gave great effort. I'm really pleased with that part, proud of them for that.
"I'm disappointed that we didn't get something from a weekend, but yesterday's kind of a throwaway because of the wind. Today was somewhat of an even game. I'm happy with the way they played."
UNBC certainly was on the ball more on Sunday, but the lion's share of the chances still went to MacEwan, who outshot the visitors 28-8 in the contest (and a whopping 17-4 in shots on goal).
In the first half, Saturday's goal-scorer Raeghan McCarthy had three early chances, including one in the third minute that Timberwolves keeper Madi Doyle dove to stop. Meghan Oram was sent in alone in the 14th, but her attempt for the left post was parried away by Doyle.
UNBC's best first-half chance came on a free kick from 33 yards out in the 45th minute from Madison Emmond that went bar down … except the bar was the field goal upright behind the net.
In the second half, MacEwan poured on the pressure, firing 11 shots on net. Skrundz had a hard blast in the 63rd that Doyle bobbled but no Griffins could get to the rebound.
Brittany Costa's 76th minute shot nicked off a defender and forced Doyle to make another diving stop. Oram's 81st minute left-footed strike, though, was the keeper's best save yet as she leapt to tip it wide of the far top corner. Doyle finished with 16 saves.
"She's great," said Sedgwick. "Two first-year goalkeepers. They were able to split the weekend and they were both fantastic. They support one another, support the team. They're doing their best to grow."
Finally, in the 82nd, MacEwan got the tally they needed for a result, as Suekiana Choucair sent a corner kick into the box that Brittany Costa headed toward the goal. Doyle made the stop but the rebound went out onto the boot of Lemoine, who drove it home for her fourth of the season.
"We were persistent, we earned a lot of corners," said Cordeiro. "Meagan Lemoine, right place, right time. Great ball in from Suekiana and Costa getting the initial header in. These are important moments in a match. It's what we needed to do today.
"Again, the positives are we didn't give up a whole lot in our end. It was a clean sheet. Only one goal today, but that's all we needed."
Emily Burns made four saves for her fifth shutout of the season.
Next up for the Griffins is road trip to face Winnipeg and Manitoba on Oct. 13-14. UNBC will visit the same teams on opposite days.