Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Already blessed with some of the fastest players in the Canada West ranks, the MacEwan Griffins women's soccer team has added even more pep to the lineup.
Latest recruit Anneke Odinga not only possesses sublime soccer skills, she has legitimate sprinter's speed.
In fact, in the final Edmonton High School track and field championship before the pandemic, Odinga – representing St. Albert's Paul Kane – won the 2019 city title with a 12.74 dash in the junior women's 100 metres.
"Some of Anneke's top attributes are her soccer IQ – she's very intelligent on the pitch – and her athleticism is off the charts," said Griffins head coach Dean Cordeiro. "She's lightning fast. She'll easily be one of our quickest players."
Growing up in the St. Albert Impact youth soccer system and a product of the Alberta REX program, Odinga pulled off a rare feat this past summer when she cracked the lineup of the Impact's UWS semi-pro team, even though she's only entering her first year of university eligibility.
"That was a great opportunity for a kid who's just coming out of high school," said Cordeiro, who also coaches Odinga on local club team Northwest United. "That speaks to her level that she could play with the Impact Pro-Am group as an incoming first year."
Wanting to play close to home for her university career, Odinga was a late addition to Cordeiro's 2021 Canada West recruiting class, joining the fold in July.
"She was one of our top recruiting targets from the 2021 class," he said. "Anneke's going to be a big addition to our team.
"She's a dynamic fullback and she's a box-to-box central midfield player. We'll look at her in those two areas, for sure."
No doubt, her speed will be a huge boost to the Griffins' lineup. Among the accomplishments of the former Team Alberta track member, Odinga won two gold medals at the 2018 Alberta Summer Games, claiming the U16 100m (12.97) and 200m (27.01) races. She also placed third in the 200m in Western Canada.
On the soccer pitch, that translates well, especially for the style of play the Griffins employ.
"Anneke's ability to get up and down, and combine with our wingers and other players is exactly what we look for and how we attack," said Cordeiro.
"The exciting thing about Anneke is she's entering her first year. We feel she's someone who's going to contribute right away and have an immense future with our program for the next five years."