Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – After spending the past three seasons in Houston, Tex. playing top-level NCAA soccer for Rice University, Erin Van Dolder is coming home.
The highly-sought-after member of the 1999 recruiting class out of Edmonton is joining the MacEwan Griffins for the 2021 Canada West season, head coach Dean Cordeiro announced Monday.
"Erin Van Dolder is a top footballer and top person," said Cordeiro. "She's a massive addition to our program. She had a great career down south and has decided to come back for her last couple years of eligibility and we're very grateful to have her.
"As we've talked about in the past, we've come so close, so to be able to add someone with Erin's experience and all of her accolades is really going to be that piece I feel we need to get over the top."
The central midfielder brings 587 minutes of NCAA Div. 1 experience to the fore and also spent the past month as a starter for the St. Albert Impact in the UWS semi-pro league with several of her now Griffins teammates.
"She adds another element to our lineup and gives us that calmness," explained Cordeiro. "Especially when we're thinking about what our goals are for the season, we have another person who has been there and done that.
"It just helps everybody be able to be at their best because no matter the type of game we're playing or how tight the match may be, Erin isn't going to be phased by that. She's seen it all."
Van Dolder has plenty of championship experience on her resume, too, captaining Edmonton-based Internazionale to the 2016 U17 national club soccer crown. Current Griffins Salma Kamel and Bianca Castillo were also on that squad, along with several former MacEwan players.
"So, she knows what it takes to win," said Cordeiro of Van Dolder, who is also an Alberta REX product. "She was one of the top players for the St. Albert Impact in the UWS, scoring a couple goals.
"And the intangibles she brings to the table are second to none," he added. "She's a leader and she's ultra-competitive. She runs the midfield and can play virtually any position on the pitch."
Also a longtime member of Cordeiro's club team Northwest United, Van Dolder has grown into a leader and star player.
"I've coached her for years now at that level and seen her grow," said Cordeiro. "She's always been an amazing person and player and you knew there was something special about her. Now she's just matured into a hell of a football player, someone who is the first name you put on any team sheet when you're thinking about a lineup.
"She's just so humble and is willing to do whatever it takes for her team. Those are the types of players you need to win with."
CAMP KICKS OFF
The Griffins opened training camp for the 2021 season last Tuesday and the excitement on the pitch was palpable.
"It was 509 days, so, honestly, I got a little bit teary-eyed," said Cordeiro. "It's been since March 12 of 2020, (when we held) our last session. Obviously, we've had our little silos of local players together, but it was the first time in 509 days we had all of our players from out of town and the U.S. present. It seemed like forever, but it was exciting to get back at it. You could definitely feel the excitement throughout the group.
"The group knows it's all business now. We have some unfinished business from our previous year and we have some goals. It was awesome just to get going and every day we'll increase the workload a little bit more. I was impressed with the overall status of the team on Day 1."