After graduating from W.H. Croxford High School in June, 17-year-old Shanice Alfred is taking her soccer talents to Edmonton this fall to play for the MacEwan University Griffins in U SPORTS.
“The Griffins team is world class, I feel, in terms of how the team plays and [coach Dean Cordeiro] coaches,” Alfred said. “I feel the team can go very far. In their first year, they went to the Canada West finals, so that says a lot about the program.”
While U SPORTS offers the highest caliber of university soccer in Canada, Alfred is by no means a stranger to elite-level competition – she has twice attended Team Canada U17 training camps, and only narrowly missed the Canadian roster for the U17 FIFA Women’s World Cups in Uruguay last year.
“They said they’re still going to be looking at me, so I’m hoping that when I’m at university, I’ll get another opportunity to go back into the system for Team Canada,” she said.
Though her skills attracted plenty of interest from NCAA programs in the United States, Alfred said, she decided to seek a university team in Canada. The opportunity to sign for the Griffins, she added, arose when the team’s head coach scouted her at a showcase tournament in Vancouver, B.C., in March 2018.
Despite only joining U SPORTS in 2013, MacEwan University’s women’s soccer team has established itself as a competitive force in the Canada West conference. Last year, the Griffins finished third in the Pacific Division with a 9-3-2 regular-season record.
Cordeiro said he was ecstatic to secure Alfred’s commitment to the Griffins. He said her versatility as a forward will bolster the team’s offence.
“She’s a super talented individual on the pitch, and she’s a fierce competitor,” he said.
“She can score goals in all kinds of ways. That’s one of the things you look for in a forward who can play in the front three, whether as a central striker or as a winger.”
In any university-level athletics program, making an impact as a first-year player is by no means a guarantee. While Cordeiro acknowledges that, he said Alfred is well-positioned to not just challenge for playing time, but to fight for a starting spot in the Griffins’ starting 11.
“Especially in our program, in particular, we have everyone returning from last season, so it will be hard for first-years to really carve out a big role,” he said. “But [Alfred] is a special talent and she’ll be chomping at the bit to work her way up the depth chart and earn opportunities.
“We like her chances of carving out a role and being a big contributor in year one.”
Another of Alfred’s coaches who has high praise for her is Matthew Smith, who co-coached the W.H. Cavaliers soccer teams last fall. He said Alfred had a calming influence on her teammates, and played a big role in the team’s successful showing in 2018 – Croxford finished third in the Rocky View Sports Association.
“Whether the game is up or down, she has a knack for really keeping control of the situation,” Smith said. “She is definitely a threat offensively, but she is a huge asset coming back, digging the ball out of the midfield and setting up plays for other people.
“She’s never been a greedy player, and she always has a big-picture look at what’s happening on the entire field. She can calmly control the ball and put it where it needs to be.”
In the lead-up to the Griffins’ August pre-season training camp, Alfred will keep her skills sharp by playing in the Alberta Major Soccer League (AMSL) for the Calgary Blizzard. AMSL is the highest level of amateur soccer in Alberta, and features many university-level players – including some of her future Griffins teammates.