In the second game of back-to-back matches between the No.4 ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears and University of Saskatchewan Huskies, the teams played to a 1-1 tie Sunday afternoon at Foote Field in Edmonton. With the result, Alberta remains in first place in the Prairie Division and three points clear of Saskatchewan.
The rivals went into the weekend set knowing each game could have a pivotal impact on the Canada West playoff picture. The team finishing first in the Prairie Division is awarded the comfort of hosting the conference championship, and with Alberta and Saskatchewan both facing the exact same competition (UBC, Trinity Western, Calgary and Lethbridge) in their final four regular season games, points earned off each other are precious as the playoffs approach.
Following Alberta’s 2-0 win on Saturday, the two teams struggled to mount any offence Sunday afternoon, as a very strong wind made for difficult playing conditions. The teams combined for 14 shots directed toward the goal in the first half, yet the goalkeepers were only forced to make one save each. The best scoring opportunity came in the 26th minute as Saskatchewan midfielder Brandon Holmes’ shot sailed over the Alberta net after the Huskies broke into the Bear zone on a two-on-one.
In the 54th minute, the Bears opened the scoring after conference leading-point-getter Marcus Johnstone was hauled down in the 18-yard box and Alberta was awarded a penalty kick. Rookie defender Niko Saler stepped up to calmly drive the ball into the back of the Huskie net, putting his team up 1-0 and notching his first-career goal as a Golden Bear.
The Huskies responded in the 73rd minute when second-year striker Brett Levis took a feed from rookie midfielder Mitchell Bauche to tally his seventh goal and 12th point of the season.
Alberta is back at Foote Field next weekend (October 13-14) to face the undefeated UBC Thunderbirds in a battle of Canada West division leaders, as well as the Trinity Western Spartans. Saskatchewan will play the exact same teams, but in Saskatoon, as they host TWU on Oct. 13 and UBC on the 14th.