Griffins hammer Regina 5-0 to clinch Prairie Division crown

Maya Morrell scored two goals for the Griffins, including the game-winner in the second minute on Saturday (Joel Kingston photo).
Maya Morrell scored two goals for the Griffins, including the game-winner in the second minute on Saturday (Joel Kingston photo).

Jason Hills
For MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON — The MacEwan Griffins simply aren't messing around this season.

With a chance to clinch top spot in the Canada West Prairie Division with a victory against the University of Regina Cougars, the defending national champions put forth a dominating 5-0 victory on Saturday at Clareview Field.

While the potent offensive win stands out on the scoreboard, what is equally impressive is defensively, the Griffins held Regina to just one shot on goal.

Not only does the win secure top spot in the division, but it will give MacEwan the right to host the Canada West Final Four, if they win their quarter-final playoff matchup.

"I'm proud of the girls," said Griffins head coach Dean Corderio.

"That's nine in a row for us, and we've set a new record with program wins (in a season) with 11, and we still have one game to go."

The Griffins were led by their dynamic duo of midfielder Maya Morrell and forward Grace Mwasalla, who each scored a brace, while Sophie Lavallee rounded out the scoring for MacEwan, who outshot Regina 23-1, and recorded 19 shots on target.

Mwasalla leads the conference with 15 goals and is now just two shy of former Calgary Dino Montana Leonard's Canada West goals record set last season.

Griffins goalkeepers Bianca Castillo and Breanna Truscott shared the clean sheet, which marked MacEwan's third-straight shutout and eighth of the year.

"We had to come out and get on them early, and credit one of our graduating senior's Maya Morrell, she took it upon herself to score two highlight reel finishes early on and that set the table for us the rest of the way," said Corderio.

"Grace (Mwasalla) got another brace today with two goals, and she leads the league with 15. The team is in great form right now."

Grace Mwasalla scored her 14th and 15th goals of the season and is now just two shy of the Canada West single season record (Joel Kingston photo).

Morrell got MacEwan on the board, just two minutes into the contest as she worked her way into the middle and ripped a bullet shot in off the crossbar to give the Griffins a 1-0 lead.

In the 11th minute, she almost scored her second of the match, but her shot just grazed the crossbar instead. But moments later, Morrell wouldn't be denied as she finished off a great three-way passing play to blast one past Cougars goalkeeper Cassandra De Amaral to give the Griffins a 2-0 lead.

Morrell recorded six shots on target, and is now just two shy of breaking the single season program record of 51 set by Suekianna Choucair in 2016.

"We've asked Maya to play a new position this year," said Corderio.

"She's always been a front three player, and now we're asking her to play centre midfield, and to be able to have a contributor of six goals  coming through the middle, it changes the dynamic of how teams can defend us."

After Mwasalla made it 3-0 in the final moments of the first half, Corderio made several substitutions to start the second half, but the Griffins' play didn't waver at all.

Lavallee made it 4-0 in the 51st minute and Mwasalla tallied her Canada West leading 15th goal of the season in the 79th minute.

Defensively, they didn't allow a shot on goal from the Cougars in the second half.

"We showed our strength in numbers today, everyone got to play at least one-third of the game, and things are going well for us," said Corderio.

"We also have to give our backline a lot of credit today, they really limited Regina's opportunities offensively.

"The thing that I like is that we created a lot of chances. That's part of our DNA and what we do as a group. We want to out possess our opponents, out chance them, all the little things that are so critical in our sport, and today it was a clean 90 minute performance."