Mwasalla nets record fourth-straight game-winner as Griffins down Bisons 2-1 to remain unbeaten

Grace Mwasalla and Bryn Mortensen look for an opening against Manitoba on Sunday (Dave Mahussier photo).
Grace Mwasalla and Bryn Mortensen look for an opening against Manitoba on Sunday (Dave Mahussier photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

WINNIPEG – Just four games into the Canada West women's soccer season and you could forgive everyone if they're running out of superlatives to describe Grace Mwasalla.

Maybe 'wow' is the only one we need. 

Put it on repeat.

The electric striker scored her fourth-straight game-winner on Sunday to set another program record, added an assist and propelled the Griffins to a 2-1 victory over the Manitoba Bisons that pushes them to a perfect 4-0-0 on the season.

"She's on a whole other level," said head coach Dean Cordeiro, who could pretty much recycle his post-game interviews after Mwasalla also had game winners against Regina, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg in the last 10 days. "We keep talking about it. We're lucky to have her. She's amazing to coach. She brings that energy. The team loves her, and she's been stepping up huge for us. It's great to see."

In 2017, rookie Brittany Costa opened the season with three-straight game-winners for the Griffins, which stood as the program record until Mwasalla's heroics eclipsed that six years later.

When Mwasalla scored the winner in the 62nd minute on Sunday – a volley inside the right post after a great sequence of passes from Alyx Henderson and Ella Fownes – it was also the eighth GWG of her career, tying the program record set by Raeghan McCarthy in 2021.

"After every game, I've had the opposing coach come to me 'wow, is she something special,' " said Cordeiro. "It's cool to see. Whenever you have a player like Grace, at any point in time the game can change, and I think she's showed that this year so far."

With the Griffins trailing 1-0 after Manitoba's Nicole Davis scored in the 17th minute, they equalized in the 42nd when Mwasalla fought off a defender to get on the end of a surgical through ball by Hannah Harper and cut back a pass in the box to Brenna Paquin, who drilled it low past Manitoba keeper Karina Bagi.

"I think it's important to give a shout-out to Brenna Paquin," said Cordeiro. "She got her first of the year. She's been doing so many good things for us, so it was nice to see her get on the scoresheet and score a big goal for us today."

MacEwan dominated the contest, outshooting Manitoba 20-9 (10-4 on goal) and had several near misses that would have led to a bigger margin of victory. 

Grace Schimpf hit the crossbar in the third minute and Mwasalla nearly scored another goal in the 68thminute when her diving header off an Anneke Odinga cross just sailed wide left. Winnipeg native Mariah Arnott also hit the inside of the post with a rocket late in the game.

First-year goalkeeper Sabrina Alexander made three saves to secure her fourth win of the 2023 season, now just one shy of the rookie record Emily Burns set in 2015. Cordeiro singled out praise for her and his entire back line – Abbey Wright, Hannah Supina, Odinga, Fownes and holding midfielder Amelia Russo – after the Griffins allowed just one goal against on the two-game weekend road trip.

"They don't get enough love for how they keep the game in front of us," he said of his defenders. "They allow us to have as much territory as we do to create chances and corners because of how rock solid they are in the back."

MacEwan returns home for its next action against Lethbridge (Sept. 9, 12 p.m., Clareview Field) and Calgary (Sept. 10, 12 p.m., Clarke Stadium, both Canada West TV).