Three Stars: Van Dolder, Yassin, Bender earn honours

Erin Van Dolder, seen in action against Calgary on Oct. 23, led the Griffins to a 2-0 win over UFV with two assists in last Saturday's Canada West quarter-final (David Moll photo).
Erin Van Dolder, seen in action against Calgary on Oct. 23, led the Griffins to a 2-0 win over UFV with two assists in last Saturday's Canada West quarter-final (David Moll photo).

MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Women's soccer student-athlete Erin Van Dolder is the MacEwan Athletics' first star of the week after her performance in leading the Griffins to a 2-0 win over UFV in their Canada West quarter-final match last Saturday.

The midfielder had two assists and also played a huge role defensively as the Griffins punched their ticket to the Final Four for the fifth time in seven seasons.

Other athletes recognized this week include second star Rakan Yassin of men's soccer and third star Natalie Bender of women's hockey.

It's the second appearance on the list for Bender, who was named second star on Sept. 14.

Both Van Dolder and Yassin are appearing for the first time in 2021-22.

1st STAR: Erin Van Dolder, M, women's soccer

Edmonton, AB, fourth-year, Arts

With a spectacular 88-minute performance on Saturday, Van Dolder led the charge for the Griffins in a 2-0 victory over the University of Fraser Valley in a Canada West quarter-final.

The fourth-year midfielder, who is in her first year with the Griffins after transferring from Rice University in the NCAA, had assists on both of MacEwan's goals in the contest.

In the 37th minute, her corner kick was put home by Abbey Wright on a header to open the scoring. And in the 67th minute, Van Dolder fed Raeghan McCarthy for a laser strike from the top of the box on the insurance goal.

Van Dolder also spent the rest of the game breaking up tackles, limiting time and space, and constantly disrupting UFV's ability to link passes through midfield.

She will lead the Griffins into the Canada West Final Four at Langley, B.C. where MacEwan is a win away from punching their ticket to the U SPORTS national championship for the first time. They will accomplish that goal if they beat UBC in Friday's semifinal (8:30 p.m. MT, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).

Rakan (Ricky) Yassin scored twice as the Griffins overcame a two-goal deficit to force overtime in their Canada West quarter-final at Victoria (Tia Schram photo).

2nd STAR: Rakan Yassin, F, men's soccer

Edmonton, AB, second-year, Arts

With the MacEwan Griffins trailing 2-0 to West Division top seed Victoria, Yassin gave them life, scoring on the final play of the first half by juking out a defender and depositing it into the back of the net.

Yassin scored his second of the game in the 57th minute to pull the Griffins within one again, eventually allowing them to tie it up 3-3 and force overtime.

Although a victory wasn't in the cards (MacEwan's lost 6-3 when 30 minutes of OT finished), Yassin and his teammates earned a lot of respect by taking favoured Victoria to the limit.

Besides the two playoff goals, Yassin finished the regular season with four goals and two assists in 10 games.

Natalie Bender dials in for a save against UBC on Saturday. She stopped 65 of 69 shots over 103:35 of action in two games agains the Thunderbirds last weekend, leading MacEwan to a 3-2 victory in Game 2 (Joel Kingston photo).

3rd STAR: Natalie Bender, G, women's hockey

St. Albert, AB, fourth-year, Commerce

Facing a daunting challenge from the UBC Thunderbirds, the MacEwan Griffins were under siege in their weekend series against the Canada West contender.

But MacEwan's veteran goaltender was up to the task, stopping 65 of 69 shots (for a sizzling .942 weekend save percentage) that came her way in 103 minutes, 35 seconds of time in the net over two games.

Bender was at her best in Saturday's rematch with the T-Birds, stopping 41 of 43 shots, which stole a 3-2 win for her team that had only 17 shots on the UBC net.

Bender also played 43:35 in Friday's 5-0 loss  to UBC as she came in for Brianna Sank late in the first period and stopped 24 of 26 shots sent her way.

For the season, Bender has a 2.42 GAA and .930 save percentage in 223:35 over four games for MacEwan. The Griffins (2-2-0) will host Mount Royal University on Friday (7 p.m.) and Calgary on Saturday (3:15 p.m., both Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).