Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
CAPE BRETON, N.S. – What a way for a graduating senior to go out.
Moments after winning a U SPORTS women's soccer national championship in their final university game, three of MacEwan's fifth-year players were among five Griffins selected to the all-star team.
Samantha Gouveia was named tournament MVP and an all-star, while fellow seniors Kaylin Hermanutz and Meagan Lemoine made the all-star team, along with second-year goalkeeper Breanna Truscott and first-year forward Grace Mwasalla following MacEwan's 3-2 win over Trinity Western on penalty kicks Sunday.
"It's an incredible honour to be recognized, but honestly it doesn't matter to me as much as this team," said Gouveia amidst the celebrations as captain of MacEwan's first-ever U SPORTS champion. "As much as this is an award for me, it's an award for this team. Every single individual on this team, their heart and hustle, they deserve this as much as I do. I'm just so proud of them."
Samantha Gouveia, right, receives the tournament MVP award following the game (Vaughn Merchant photo).
Griffins head coach Dean Cordeiro was almost lost for words when talking about Gouveia's impact during the competition, which came on the heels of her being named to the U SPORTS second all-star team at the tournament-opening banquet last Wednesday.
"Samantha Gouveia, what a leader, what a workhorse, what a special person and what a quality footballer," he said. "Blocking shots, connecting passes, winning headers, organizing, controlling the game, pulling the strings – just a master class this whole weekend and all season.
"I'm just so proud of her and all our senior players. What a way to go out, to win your final university game, to be on top of U SPORTS. It's quite the story."
Kaylin Hermanutz, right, received the player of the game award, along with being named to the tournament all-star team, following Sunday's final (Vaughn Merchant photo).
Hermanutz rarely gets the credit she deserves for her work in midfield connecting passes and linking the field for the Griffins, so Cordeiro was pleased to see her earn an all-star nod.
"Kaylin Hermanutz never gets any recognition and she might be the MVP of the team," said Cordeiro. "She just continually makes passes, breaks lines, sticks tackles. The pulse of midfield.
"For her to get that recognition meant the world as a coach because I know all the little things that she does. Just so happy for her to end her university career with a memory like this."
Breanna Truscott makes a save during Sunday's national championship game against Trinity Western. Her stellar play earned her a tournament all-star nod as the top goalkeeper in Cape Breton (Vaughn Merchant photo).
Truscott was involved in a scary collision late in overtime and had to be lifted from the field on a stretcher and taken to hospital. She found out about her award from a hospital bed, but in the great news of the night, she was later released.
"Breanna Truscott – keeper of the tournament by being selected to the all-star team," said Cordeiro. "She took the bull by the horns to close out our season and playoffs, and all the way until today in the 118th minute.
"We wouldn't be here without her. What a tournament she had. I'm super proud and happy for her."
Meagan Lemoine plays the ball against Trinity Western on Sunday. She ended the match playing fullback, which is where she started her career with MacEwan in 2015 (Vaughn Merchant photo).
Lemoine, who was earlier named to the Canada West first all-star team, goes out on top as a champion and U SPORTS tournament all-star in her final game.
"Meagan Lemoine scored such a clutch goal in the semifinal," said Cordeiro of the overtime winner against UBC. "Again, she's another fifth-year player who's meant everything. It's fitting that when Anneke (Odinga) went out with an injury, she played her last game where she started her career – at the fullback position. And we needed her today. She started the first goal by getting up the flank and creating. She obviously had to leave the game with an injury.
"Sometimes it's a battle of attrition when you get to that third game in four days. We needed that togetherness. That's been our motto and we needed everybody. The players who stepped in today were fantastic. Meagan Lemoine, way to cap off the tournament today with an all-star nod."
Grace Mwasalla, seen in action against Queen's in a quarter-final match earlier this week, was named to the tournament all-star team as a first-year just four days after being snubbed for the U SPORTS All-Rookie squad (Vaughn Merchant photo).
And last but not least – Mwasalla, who looked nothing like a rookie in Nova Scotia this week, making a huge difference for the Griffins up front. When she was snubbed from making the U SPORTS All-Rookie team at last Wednesday's banquet, she had something to prove.
"Grace is a pretty special talent," said Cordeiro. "We had a conversation when she didn't quite make the U SPORTS All-Rookie team and we didn't want that to be a negative. We said, 'listen, Grace, you're a special talent and this weekend you're going to show everybody what kind of an impact a rookie can make.
"She was our player of the game one day, she obviously scored a clutch PK, was a 90-minute player every game. She took down everything up top, held people up. It's crazy to think she's a first year because she played out there like she was a senior player. I'm just so happy for her to get that recognition because she's come full circle this season. You're going to be hearing her name a lot for the next four years."