Rich Abney, UNBC Athletics
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. -
The MacEwan Griffins used a go-ahead goal from Sarah Riddle in the 84th minute to edge the UNBC Timberwolves 2-1, on Saturday, October 6th in Prince George, B.C.
One night after the Griffins held off the gritty TWolves by a 3-2 score, the rematch was even more closely contested than the first meeting. The weather aided the tenacious battle, as heavy rain began before the match started, and barely let up the entire duration of the contest.
The visitors drew first blood, less than twelve minutes into the contest. Salma Kamel, who scored her first of the season on Friday, made it two games in a row when she streaked down the right side and beat keeper Madi Doyle with a low shot short side.
MacEwan would maintain pressure much of the first half, trying to contain the speed of UNBC forwards Paige Payne and Sofia Jones. In the 39th minute, they nearly doubled their lead when Suekiana Choucair launched a shot from twenty yards out that hit the crossbar and stayed out.
In the second half, the Timberwolves came out with more intent and purpose, and were able to test the backline of the Griffins a number of times. Payne was dangerous on a pair of occasions, but couldn't solve GMU keeper Emily Burns.
"We had lots of possession, and I think we played quite well," said UNBC's Doyle. "When it is rainy and wet, everything gets a little messy, but I think we put pressure on and were playing well."
In the 71st minute, the home side got the opportunity they wanted from the player they wanted it from. Payne was sprung on a break from Madison Emmond and used her speed to and creativity to get a shot off from inside the box, beating Burns and giving the Kitimat native her conference-leading 8th goal of the season.
That seemed to increase the intensity, as play got even more physical and tight-checking than the previous seventy minutes. The Griffins were able to hem the TWolves in their defensive third, earning a pair of corner kicks and a free kick that Doyle was able to keep out.
In minute 84, however, the pressure from the Griffins was rewarded. Off a corner kick, a scramble ensued in the UNBC box, with multiple opportunities off the feet of Griffins. Eventually Sarah Riddle found it and deposited it, for her third of the season, giving MacEwan the go-ahead goal with just minutes remaining.
"It was being knocked around everywhere, and I don't know if anyone knew where if it was going," said Doyle. "They got the final kick on it, and it slipped under my hand and in."
"We had two or three corners that were close, with scrambles, and they cleared one off the line," said Choucair postgame. "I think we deserved one off a corner, because we had been coming so close."
UNBC would earn one final opportunity in the 90th minute, but Payne's corner kick was cleared out of harm's way before a Timberwolf could locate it.
With the victory, the Griffins improve to 7-2-1, while the Timberwolves fall to 1-6-3.
"It was difficult playing them two nights in a row," said Choucair. "We knew both 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."
"We played our game," said Doyle. "We wanted to keep possession the majority of the game. Just because we didn't get the results we wanted, I still think we should be proud. We played really well both these games."