Athletes of Year Gouveia, Yassin headline MacEwan Athletics' major award winners

MacEwan University Provost and Vice-President Academic Dr. Craig Monk presents the 2021-22 Griffins' Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards to Rakan (Ricky) Yassin, left, and Samantha Gouveia (Joel Kingston photo).
MacEwan University Provost and Vice-President Academic Dr. Craig Monk presents the 2021-22 Griffins' Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards to Rakan (Ricky) Yassin, left, and Samantha Gouveia (Joel Kingston photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Soccer scored big at the annual MacEwan Athletics' Awards Banquet on Saturday night, capturing five of the six major awards handed out during the event at the Sandman Signature Hotel Downtown Edmonton.

Samantha Gouveia and Rakan (Ricky) Yassin of the women's and men's soccer teams, won the Griffins' Female and Male Athletes of the Year Awards.

Alvin Mazaheri and Grace Mwasalla of the men's and women's soccer teams won the Griffins' Male and Female Rookie of the Year awards.

And the Griffins women's soccer team captured the Murray Orvis Team of the Year award after their historic U SPORTS national championship last November – the first in MacEwan's history.

Women's basketball broke up a clean soccer sweep by winning MacEwan's prestigious Cathryn Heslep Academic Team of the Year Award, presented to the team with the highest combined GPA.

Gouveia kept the Female Athlete of the Year award in the Griffins soccer family for a third-straight season, following back-to-back wins by Jamie Erickson. Among many accolades in 2021-22, Gouveia also won U SPORTS nationals MVP, was named one of U SPORTS' Top 8 Academic All Canadians, and made both the U SPORTS second all-star team and Canada West first all-star team.

"It's definitely a credit of all the hard work I've dedicated over the past five years to the program," she said. "But honestly, as much as I am privileged to accept this award, I couldn't have done it without the extraordinary athletes and players and sisters I share my time with on the pitch. This is as much an award for them as it is for me."

Yassin is the first men's soccer player since Ammon Hoefs in 2006-07 to win MacEwan's Male Athlete of the Year honour and the fifth to put his name on the trophy in Griffins men's soccer history. The forward finished tied for sixth in the Canada West scoring race with four goals and six points in 10 games, including scoring the winner that punched MacEwan's ticket to the playoffs for the first time.

"It's a great individual award to get, but it's a team effort, too," said Yassin. "The guys really helped me out, day-in and day-out, putting in the work. It's not possible without them and the coaching staff.

"There are days you don't feel so well and times you feel like you don't want to play, but they're standing behind you. They're like a second family, those guys. So really a big shout out to them."

MacEwan University's Associate Vice-President Students Tim Tang presents the Female and Male Rookie of the Year awards to soccer players Grace Mwasalla, left, and Alvin Mazaheri (Joel Kingston photo).

Mazaheri is the second men's soccer player to win Male Rookie of the Year since the award began in 2017-18, following Everett Orgnero's 2018-19 win. The Danish striker produced five goals and an assist in 11 games, tying for the team's scoring lead.

"It means a lot," he said. "Coming here, I didn't really expect anything, but being able to make a big impact on the team and getting the recognition from my coach and teammates means more than I can describe, actually."

Mwasalla becomes the fourth-straight Griffins women's soccer player to win the MacEwan Female Rookie of the Year award, following Brittany Costa (2017-18), Hannah Supina (2018-19) and Sofia DiGiacomo (2019-20).

The U SPORTS nationals all-star and Canada West All-Rookie team member led the Griffins with five goals and eight points in 12 games, adding four more points in the playoffs.

"It's absolutely unreal," she said. "I think obviously missing out on the U SPORTS All Rookie team kind of hurt, but to get this recognition from MacEwan is unreal. Both (finalists) Aryn (Chambers) and Payton (Shimoda) had great rookie seasons and they should be proud of themselves, too. I'm just really happy and proud of myself right now."

Women's soccer captured Murray Orvis Team of the Year honours. Pictured is head coach Dean Cordeiro, surrounded by captains Kaylin Hermanutz and Raeghan McCarthy (back row) and Meagan Lemoine, Samantha Gouveia and Salma Kamel (front row) (Joel Kingston photo).

After capturing the first U SPORTS national championship in MacEwan's history, the Griffins women's soccer team capped the year with the university's Murray Orvis Team of the Year award. It's the first time the program has won the honour since at least 2011 and possibly ever.*

"Every year there are so many good teams at MacEwan," said head coach Dean Cordeiro. "We're just blessed to be acknowleged in such high regard by the university. To win team of the year means a lot, I know not just to myself and my staff, but all of the players.

"We've been a nominee every year I've been here – eight years running. To finally win the award, I think just goes to show the year we had this year – truly special and remarkable. I couldn't be more proud of this team and their accomplishments."

Women's basketball was one of seven Griffins teams with a combined GPA of 3.0 or higher – a remarkable feat in the classroom for MacEwan athletes. They topped all others with a combined GPA of 3.508. It's the first time the program has won the award since at least 2012 and possibly ever.**

"It's super impressive," said head coach Katherine Adams. "It shows the character of these women and the dedication to their studies. They're so ambitious in their endeavours and what they want to do in the future.

"To come out with a 3.5 combined grade-point average is absolutely outstanding. It's something I know they take a lot of pride in, too."

Individual team awards – Most Outstanding (MOP) and Most Improved (MIP) – were also presented on Saturday night. Here are the winners by team:

Women's Basketball

MOP – Mackenzie Farmer

MIP – Mikah Reed

Head coach Katherine Adams with Mikah Reed, left, and Mackenzie Farmer (Joel Kingston photo).

Men's Basketball

MOP – Mason Hunter

MIP – Colton Halbersma

Head coach Mike Connolly with Mason Hunter, left, and Colton Halbersma (Joel Kingston photo).

Women's Hockey

MOP – Natalie Bender

MIP – Sydney Olsen

Head coach Lindsay McAlpine with Sydney Olsen, left, and Natalie Bender (Joel Kingston photo).

Men's Hockey

MOP – Ty Taylor

MIP – Zach Webb

Assistant coaches Sean Ringrose, left, and Zack Dailey pose with Zach Webb. Ty Taylor is pursuing opportunities in Tampa Bay's farm system and wasn't able to be at the banquet (Joel Kingston photo).

Women's Soccer

MOP – Samantha Gouveia

MIP – Abbey Wright

Head coach Dean Cordeiro with Abbey Wright, left, and Samantha Gouveia (Joel Kingston photo).

Men's Soccer

MOP – Rakan (Ricky) Yassin

MIP – Ali Yildiz

Assistant coach Dhee Govender (left), Ali Yildiz, Rakan (Ricky) Yassin and head coach Adam Loga (Joel Kingston photo).

Women's Volleyball

MOP – Jordyn Thomas

MIP – Payton Shimoda

Coach Nicole Ban with Payton Shimoda, left, and Jordyn Thomas (Joel Kingston photo).

Men's Volleyball

MOP – Jefferson Morrow

MIP – Jonah Karsten

Head coach Brad Poplawski with Jonah Karsten, left, and Jefferson Morrow (Joel Kingston photo).

*Records unknown from 2007-08 to 2010-11

**Records unknown from 1991-92 to 2000-01, 2003-04, 2009-10 to 2011-12