EDMONTON – Fourth-year Trinity Western Spartans soccer forward Leighton Johnson is the Canada West men’s first star of the week for the period ending Sunday, August 27.
Johnson earned the first star honour after leading the Spartans to a convincing 5-1 opening day win over Victoria, as the Calgary product scored a trio of goals.
Joining Johnson as stars this week were MacEwan University’s Lahai Mansaray and Alberta’s Ajeej Sarkaria, who scored three and two goals respectively to open the 2017 CW men’s soccer seasons.
Men’s first star – Leighton Johnson
Trinity Western Spartans soccer
Game log: Friday, August 25 – three goals and one assist in 5-1W vs. Victoria / Saturday, August 26 – two shots in 1-0 loss against UBC
Leighton Johnson opened the Canada West season by scoring three goals and adding an assist in a 5-1 road win over Victoria. After scoring four goals in his first three seasons with the Spartans, Johnson exploded for a hat-trick to lead TWU to its largest margin of victory since a 5-1 win over Saskatchewan in 2009. Along with his three goals, Johnson also had a brilliantly-struck cross, which was headed home by Cody Fransen. Despite injuries to a couple of key players, Johnson’s offensive foray helped TWU to one of its most impressive season-opening outings in program history. Johnson followed his Friday-night performance with a solid 90-minute effort in a hard-fought 1-0 loss against UBC. The Spartans (1-1) will now return home to host UNBC in back-to-back games Sept. 1-2 at Chase Office Field on the TWU campus.
Men’s second star – Lahai Mansaray
MacEwan Griffins soccer
Game log: Saturday, August 26 – one goal in 2-1L @ Calgary / Sunday, August 27 – two goals, including the game-winner in 3-2W @ Mount Royal.
MacEwan’s reigning leading scorer kicked off the new season in spectacular fashion, scoring three times during a two-game road trip to Calgary. Mansaray potted the opening goal of the match against the Calgary Dinos on Saturday in the 15th minute, taking a pass and drilling it into the left side of the net.
At MRU on Sunday, the dynamic attacker kicked it up a notch, scoring twice as part of a three-goal MacEwan deluge in the span of six minutes as the Griffins turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 triumph. In the 81st minute, he entered a scramble in front of the net and found twine low left. Then, after the Griffins tied the contest, he tapped home a rebound in the 87th minute.
It’s the third multi-goal game of his Canada West career.
Mansaray’s contributions helped the Griffins earn a split against two Canada West playoff teams from last year. They’ll take that 1-1-0 record into their home-opening weekend, Sept. 2-3 against Saskatchewan (2-0-0) and Lethbridge (0-2-0).
Men’s third star – Ajeej Sarkaria
Alberta Golden Bears soccer
Game log: Saturday, August 26 – one goal in 1-0W @ Mount Royal / Sunday, August 27 – one goal and two assists in 5-0W @ Calgary.
Sophomore University of Alberta Golden Bears striker Ajeej Sarkaria is the Canada West men’s third star of the Week following his four-point opening weekend.
After one of the single greatest seasons in Canada West Men’s Soccer history – in which he led the conference with a record 19 goals – Sarkaria showed last season was no fluke with another dominating weekend in Calgary.
The Edmonton native powered the No. 1-ranked Golden Bears to a hard fought 1-0 win over the Mount Royal Cougars, with his 39th minute penalty kick standing as the game-winning-goal.
Sarkaria was even more spectacular on Sunday against the Calgary Dinos, as his three points led the Bears to a convincing 5-0 win over their rival. Sarkaria scored his second of the season in the 12th minute, before assisting on Tolu Esan’s second of the match in the 43rd minute, and earning the helper on Ajay Khabra’s tally in the 47th. Sarkaria, along with Trinity Western Spartan Leighton Johnson, hold the tie for the conference scoring crown with four points each after two matches.
The Golden Bears will return to Foote Field this weekend, as the host the Lethbridge Pronghorns in the home-opener, and the Saskatchewan Huskies the following afternoon.