(Editor's note: Carroll College media release)
HELENA -- The Carroll College Fighting Saints hosted their home opener on Monday, falling to a talented MacEwan team 2-0.
MacEwan University is one of the top teams in their region in Canada.
“The thing we really talked about even before the game was how technically and tactically smarter this team is going to be than most we play,” Saints coach Dave Thorvilson said. “They’re better at using their body and they have a better system of play, some of the things we’re still working on.”
MacEwan came out aggressive early, probing the Saints’ defense before firing an onslaught of shots. The Griffins showed off their speed before Carroll (0-1) settled in.
Griffin forward Maya Morrell took advantage first, though. Morrell finished a ball from Suekiana Choucair to give MacEwan a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute.
Sofia DiGiacomo struck seven minutes later -- also on an assist from Choucair -- to push the lead to 2-0.
A barrage of 19 first-half shots netted a 2-0 lead for the Griffins, and then the Saints tightened up their play.
“The second half, not playing as much of a high line and dropping off a little bit, trying to get a little more pressure on the ball through the midfield, that allowed us more of an opportunity when we got the ball to have some opportunities to go forward,” Thorvilson said.
MacEwan outshot Carroll 5-2 in the second half, but the Saints clearly contested the ball much better and limited the Griffins’ chances, while putting together strong sequences themselves.
“I was impressed with the way Charly and Taryn played today,” Thorvilson said. “Amaya Winkler, coming off the bench second half, was very composed for her first true college game.”
Junior goalkeeper Sydney Green had her hands full in the first half but hung in and made stops for the Saints. She closed the game with eight saves.
It was the Saints’ first regular-season game. Prior, the Saints played a pair of scrimmages against Gillette College and Sheridan College, a pair of junior colleges in Wyoming.
MacEwan, on the other hand, entered Nelson Stadium less than a day after defeating the University of Montana 2-0. Within the last week, the Griffins also played a tough game against Eastern Washington, falling 4-2, and defeated Concordia University Edmonton 9-0.
In just one half against a high-caliber opponent, the Saints showed vast improvement.
“The backline had to figure out some issues,” Thorvilson said. “Got much better from a communication perspective. There’s good and bad to take away from this game. Communication and overall team expectations increased as the game went along, which is good to see.”
With classes beginning on Wednesday, the Saints will add on the academic rigors of Carroll College to their training schedules. Next weekend, the Saints will head to California for a pair of games against the University of Saint Katherine and San Diego Christian.
“We have to get ready for the first day of classes and our first road trip,” Thorvilson said. “We have to get used to not being at home.”