Paul Cartledge, Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON – Sophomore forward Easton Ongaro potted a pair of goals, including his second-straight game-winner, to propel the No.8 University of Alberta Golden Bears to a 3-1 victory over the Mount Royal University Cougars, Sunday afternoon at Foote Field.
The Edmonton native doubled his season goal output to four, tying Saskatchewan's Tyler Redl for the Canada West scoring lead, while rookie midfielder David Chung added an insurance marker in injury time. Head coach Len Vickery, in his 34th and potential final year as bench boss for Alberta, notched his 300th overall win and improved his record to 300W-136L-92T.
Rookie forward Moe El Gandour tallied the lone goal for the visitors, scoring his fifth point of the season to keep him in the top five in conference scoring.
After striking in the final minutes on Saturday afternoon, Ongaro wasted no time on this day, opening the scoring in the seventh minute of play. Senior midfielder Ivan Borka found Ongaro on the outside of the pitch, the Arts student looking to pass before deciding to charge towards the net himself and firing the ball far side for his second goal in less than 10 minutes of playing time.
The Cougars responded shortly after, however, rookie midfielder David Schaefer causing a stir with some footwork inside the 18-yard box near the goal line before putting the ball through to the other side of the net where a wide-open El Gandour drove it inside the near post to tie the game at one after 13 minutes of play.
The two teams exchanged non-threatening offensive chances as the first half progressed, but the scoreboard remained unchanged until another seemingly harmless chance in the second half.
Though team scoring leader Ajeej Sarkaria usually took free kicks for the Golden Bears, Ongaro was the one poised just outside the corner of the 18-yard box in the 68th minute, stealthily pushing his strike low through the traffic to find the far left corner of the Mount Royal net and the 2-1 lead.
For the remainder of the game, Alberta kept pushing offence, holding the Cougars in their own zone before the visitors made a final push in stoppage time.
This push included third-year netminder Kyran Valley coming further out of his net, leading to the extremely rare play of Chung defensively clearing the ball back into Mount Royal territory from midfield, catching Valley out of position as the ball soared towards the empty goal. Though the Calgary-born goaltender managed to get a touch on it as he scrambled backwards, the ball's momentum carried it into the back of the net for Chung's first tally of the season.
The 5-0-0 Golden Bears remain at home next weekend to host the Victoria Vikes on Saturday and the Fraser Valley Cascades on Sunday. The 2-2-0 Cougars head back home to host the very same Cascades on Saturday before hosting the UBC Okanagan Heat on Sunday.