EDMONTON – With a growing number of players turning pro after playing for the Griffins men's soccer team, the MacEwan program is becoming increasingly attractive to top prospects with similar aspirations.
Among those is the first announcement in head coach Adam Loga's recruiting class – Victoria Highlanders captain Ethan Monaghan, who will join the Griffins for the 2022 Canada West season.
"He has pro aspirations," said Loga of the Chestermere, Alta. product. "Obviously, CPL (Canadian Premier League) seems to be the theme with some of our lads who've moved on. We had some success making playoffs for the first time, but it's clear we've also had great success pushing players on to the next level.
"Although it's tough to lose those guys because they are talented, it's also great for the program. Ethan's an example of that and why he chose here."
Monaghan and Loga actually go way back to 2014 when the coach mentored him as a player at Edge School in Calgary. Since then, he's gained experience playing against men, including a season in Germany with Landesliga Bayern Südost, and playing with the Highlanders, who play in League 1 B.C. (previously in the USL2).
"I had him at Edge School back in 2014, so I knew him as a teenager," said Loga, who has been at the helm of the Griffins since 2016. "Obviously reconnecting with him and him wanting to come and play at MacEwan is definitely humbling that he wants to come here. He was highly touted by many schools.
"Our expectation is he'll step right into the lineup."
Monaghan is officially listed as an attacking winger, but he can play all over the field, giving the Griffins much-welcomed versatility.
"He's very, very athletic and rapid," said Loga. "He grew up playing on the wing, but his game's matured as he's grown. He is a '99 born, so he's a bit older. His game's progressed to where he can play in different areas of the field as he's tightened up his technique and built his IQ."
Having Monaghan in the lineup as a versatile chess piece opens up options for Loga.
"Depending on our system and shape – we have a lot of talent coming in this year and a lot of talented returners – we may be able to be a bit more diverse in our strategy and structure than we have in the past," he added. "I can see him – especially in back-to-back matches – playing in one spot for 90 in one game and a new spot for 90 in the next game. It's how we want to line up and what combinations and connections work during training camp."