Three Stars: Van Dolder, Stayko, Mwasalla earn honours

Erin Van Dolder scored three goals in two games against Alberta last weekend (Don Voaklander photo).
Erin Van Dolder scored three goals in two games against Alberta last weekend (Don Voaklander photo).

MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Women's soccer student-athlete Erin Van Dolder is the inaugural MacEwan Athletics' first star of the week of the 2022-23 season after scoring three times in a weekend home-and-home series against cross-town rival Alberta.

Van Dolder scored a penalty kick in both Friday's and Sunday's matches vs. the Pandas and added the game-winner in Friday's 3-1 victory. 

Other athletes recognized this week include second star Josh Stayko of the men's soccer team and Grace Mwasalla of the women's soccer team. 

It's the first honour of the season for all three student-athletes.

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

Edmonton, AB, fifth-year, Arts

A force for the Griffins both offensively and defensively in Friday's home opener vs. cross-town rival Alberta, the senior holding midfielder led the home side to a 3-1 win.

Not only did she set the tone defensively in the contest, consistently repelling attacks, sticking tackles and winning balls, she scored two goals, including the game-winner in the 51st minute.

With the Griffins up 2-1 and pressing for the insurance goal, she rang one of the crossbar in the 59th. But, in extra time, after Maya Morrell was taken down in the box, Van Dolder converted a penalty kick to put three points in the books.

Two days later, Van Dolder converted another penalty kick in the second half of a 5-2 loss to the Pandas after Grace Mwasalla was fouled in the box.

As a result, Van Dolder matched the Griffins' single season record for successful penalty kicks (2/2, which was accomplished three times by Suekiana Choucair), but we're only two games into the campaign.

2nd STAR: Josh Stayko, GK, men's soccer

Sherwood Park, AB, second-year, Commerce

Josh Stayko combined for 16 saves in games against Mount Royal and Calgary over the weekend (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

The busiest goalkeeper in Canada West on the opening weekend of the season, Josh Stayko stopped 16 of 20 shots levelled his way.

Against Mount Royal in Friday's home-opening 3-0 loss, the Sherwood Park goalkeeper made nine saves, including a fabulous diving stop in the waning moments. 

Then, on Sunday, Stayko was the biggest reason the Griffins earned a result against Calgary – a 1-1 draw – after he made seven saves, none trickier than a 49th minute long bomb by Giancarlo Stanton that caught a gust of wind and forced him to dive backwards and tip it off the bar and out.

Just two games into the 2022 campaign, Stayko has already matched the ninth-most saves by a Griffins goalkeeper in a single Canada West season.

He will lead the Griffins out on the road this weekend with matches in Lethbridge on Friday (5 p.m.) and at Saskatchewan on Sunday (2 p.m., both Canada West TV).

3rd STAR: Grace Mwasalla, F/M, women's soccer

Calgary, AB, second-year, Arts

Grace Mwasalla had a strong weekend for the Griffins against Alberta (Tia Schram photo).

With the Griffins uncharacteristically trailing 4-0 to the Alberta Pandas at the half on Sunday, the reigning Canada West All-Rookie team member took matters into her own hands in a furious comeback attempt.

Mwasalla earned a penalty kick for the team when she was fouled in the box in the 55th minute. Erin Van Dolder made no mistake to draw the team within three.

Then Mwasalla took a pass from Hannah Supina in the 60th minute, beat a defender and scored the Griffins' second goal. 

Mwasalla and the Griffins are on a bye week, preparing for a road trip to Victoria on Sept. 9 (6 p.m. MT) and UBC on Sept. 10 (6 p.m. MT, both Canada West TV).