On November 21, the togetherness they’d preached all year, their incredible resolve and two heroic saves led the MacEwan Griffins women’s soccer team to capture the first U SPORTS national championship in program history.

Backup goalkeeper Bianca Castillo made two saves in the penalty kick shootout as the Griffins defeated Trinity Western 3-2 and took to the field in a wild celebration.

It’s MacEwan’s historic first national championship since the university joined U SPORTS in 2014.

“It’s a moment I won’t forget for the rest of my life,” says Griffins captain Samantha Gouveia, who was named tournament MVP. “We worked so hard to come from the bottom up and it just tells how much heart is in the souls of these players that I have the honour of sharing the pitch with."

The team came together for starting goalkeeper Breanna Truscott, who was involved in a scary collision late in overtime, carted off the field and taken to hospital in an ambulance.

Castillo, who began the season as the Griffins’ starter, playing eight regular season games, hadn’t seen the pitch since October 23 when the team decided to ride the hot hand of Truscott all the way to the U SPORTS championship game.

But there Castillo was, making two saves in the shootout, while Grace Mwasalla, Hannah Supina and Erin Van Dolder scored to seal the victory.

“All I was thinking was I was doing it for Bre,” says Castillo. “She carried us through a lot of our games and I’m so proud of what she’s done. I wanted us to get that gold medal and I wanted to do it for Bre and the team.”

When she stopped Trinity Western’s Kathryn Harvey in the final round of the shootout, it took Castillo a couple of seconds to realize that was it. 

The Griffins were national champs!

“It was a surreal moment,” says Castillo. “The adrenaline was very, very high. I was able to perform at my best at the very last second.”

Parents and support staff flooded the field as the Griffins handed the Spartans their first loss of the season and made history with a banner that will never be forgotten at MacEwan University.

“I know all the work these athletes have put in and all the athletes that came before them,” says Dean Cordeiro, women's soccer head coach. “That’s what we can’t forget. So many people have left their fingerprints all over the program, and to be standing as the top team in the country, in all of U SPORTS today, is a very proud moment and a memory we’ll never forget our whole lives." 


Source: Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics. Read the original story here.

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