Schimpf steps up with two points as Griffins beat Pandas 2-1 in rematch

Grace Schimpf scored the winning goal in the 38th minute on a blast from 25 yards out (Robert Antoniuk photo).
Grace Schimpf scored the winning goal in the 38th minute on a blast from 25 yards out (Robert Antoniuk photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Grace Schimpf stepped up and became the hero that head coach Dean Cordeiro was looking for, setting up a goal and scoring the winner in MacEwan's 2-1 win over Alberta in Canada West women's soccer action under the lights at Clarke Stadium on Sunday night.

"It's huge," said Schimpf of a victory that comes on the heels of a 2-0 loss to the Pandas a day earlier at Foote Field. "I feel like we haven't been ourselves recently, so this just felt like a really big win and step in the right direction."

Determined to put a downturn of two losses in their last three games behind them, the Griffins wasted little time in taking control of Sunday's rematch against their cross-town rivals as Schimpf won a ball along the sideline in the fifth minute and sent in a perfect cross for Alyx Henderson to deflect inside the left post.

"What a performance by her," said Cordeiro of Schimpf. "I knew we weren't going to be satisfied after the game yesterday. What a start the game. We almost made it 2-0 within five minutes. Grace Schimpf stepped up. What a ball to Alyx Henderson and she taps it in. Then she scores the match winner in the second half. 

"She's just such an important piece to the puzzle for us, not just the goal and assist but all the work she does in midfield. She wins every battle. She's not the biggest player, but she plays big. She pulled strings for us today and is a midfield general. I'm very proud of her performance today."

With the result, the Griffins are now 8-2-1, stretching their lead atop the Prairie Division. Alberta is 4-5-3.

The winning goal came in the 38th minute when veteran fifth-year forward Maya Morrell, making her first start of the season after recovering from an injury, outmuscled two defenders at the top of the box to keep possession and dished to Schimpf for a blast from 25 yards out over the head of keeper Autumn Wynn and in.

"We've been missing her," said Cordeiro of Morrell, who played 59 minutes on Sunday, consistently wreaking havoc on Alberta's back line. "Whenever you can add a Canada West first team all-star to the mix here down the stretch it's important. I'm just happy she's able to come back this weekend for her first action of the season. It's good timing. We need a little boost and a spark. 

"We're easing her in, but you see how she steps up. She just changes the game for us. On the winner, it was just all hard work, running at players and garnering a lot of attention, she was able to find Grace. I'm super proud of Maya. What an illustrious career she's had."

Maya Morrell had a huge assist on the winning goal, using her power to wreak havoc on Alberta's back line (Robert Antoniuk photo).

Morrell was one of six graduating seniors feted by the team following the game, joining goaltender Bianca Castillo (who made six saves for her first win of the season), Hannah Supina, Abbey Wright, Avery Brisebois and Mimi Vignjevic in a post-game ceremony.

"These six seniors we're celebrating today, this class is going to go down as one of the best we've ever had and not just because of how good of footballers they are, but they're amazing people," said Cordeiro. "They do so much, they lift us every day. They're inspirational and they're going to leave a lasting legacy on this program for years to come."

Alberta's lone goal was scored by Makeena Van der Veen in the 48th minute. The visitors had more shot attempts than MacEwan (18-12), but the Griffins hit the target more (10-7), forcing Wynn to make eight saves.

MacEwan's next action is on Oct. 8 (1 p.m., Clarke Stadium) when they will resume Sept. 16's postponed game vs. Mount Royal in the 35th minute, leading 2-0.