By Dale Woodard on October 12, 2021.
The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men’s soccer team earned their first point of the Canada West season Saturday, but fell just short of grabbing a few more points Sunday.
The Horns battled the Alberta Golden Bears to a 1-1 tie in Canada West play Saturday afternoon at the University of Lethbridge Stadium.
But in the rematch Sunday, the Golden Bears made good on a penalty kick awarded to them in the 69th minute as Alberta hit the road with a 2-1 victory that improves them to 3-0-3, while the Horns took the loss that puts them at 0-6-1.
The Golden Bears’ penalty kick goal by Ajeej Sarkaria was hotly contested by the Pronghorns when a second Golden Bears player was allowed into the penalty area to hold the ball steady in the face of the whipping wind.
Sarkaria made good on the chance and the protests of the second player in the penalty area continued from the Pronghorns bench, ultimately earning the hosts a yellow card.
Post game, Pronghorns’ head coach Randy Bardock didn’t go into detail about the penalty kick, but summed up what was a blustery afternoon on the pitch as southern Alberta went into a wind warning Sunday, making for a challenging affair.
“I think when we played our game, even against the wind in the first half, we opened them up repeatedly. We just didn’t seem to settle on the ball as much as we should have in the first half.”
“In the second half I thought we created some good opportunities. It was just a challenging game in a lot of ways today and it made it difficult for everybody.”
The Pronghorns hit the board first and early as Karim Bey netted his second of the season on a pass down the field from defender Thomas Denness.
Lethbridge veteran goaltender Nolan French kept the game 1-0, thwarting a Golden Bears chance on a free kick in the 14th minute and stopping a header from Alberta’s Everett Orgnero.
But Alberta made good on their next chance in the 39th minute off a header from Golden Bear Armaan Nijjar to knot things up at 1-1.
Then in the 69th minute, the visitors took the lead for good on the penalty kick following a challenge between Pronghorn Ryan McMurtry and Golden Bear Garry Onyejelem.
Alberta had five shots on goal compared to Lethbridge’s three, but the Horns had 12 shot attempts.
Danilo Morales had four shots. Will Hughes, Alasdair Coyle and Bey had two each.
“We’ve had guys who were sick all week and couldn’t practice and came out and everybody left everything on the field,” said Bardock. “Our response throughout has been phenomenal. These guys deserve better.”
On Saturday, the teams duelled through a scoreless match before Golden Bear Sarkaria broke through in the 76th minute.
But the Horns responded quickly and earned their first point of the season when Hughes netted the equalizer a little over two minutes later.
“We had great chances throughout and I think it’s a sign of a young team that’s getting more belief in themselves,” said Bardock. “They scored and we went right back at them. Even (Sunday), after they scored a goal we went straight down and had a great opportunity within a minute. We’re really finding ourselves and a future is very exciting.”
The Pronghorns hit the road to Edmonton next weekend to face MacEwan University Griffins (1-4-1) the Saturday and Sunday.
They wrap up their regular season schedule Oct. 23 when they host Mount Royal Cougars at the U of L Stadium
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