Akin to a goal going in off an opposing defender, sometimes university recruiters get a lucky bounce.
That’s exactly what happened for Dean Cordeiro – coach of the women’s soccer team at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – who landed Enumclaw’s Mia Fornelius.
For Griffins coach Cordeiro the lucky moment came when Fornelius sent him an e-mail in May.
Fornelius was on Cordeiro’s recruiting radar in 2014 when he saw her score a hat trick during a game at the Whitecaps Showcase in Vancouver.
“You’re thinking to yourself ‘man, she’s a player. Would she really come to a school based in Edmonton?’ Who knows, right? So I thought why not (talk to her)?,” Cordeiro recounted.
“Shortly thereafter, we found out there was some interest, but she had some offers from U.S. schools, so things didn’t end up working out. But we always kept in touch,” Cordeiro said.
Fornelius initially thought she would stick closer to home.
At the beginning of her junior year at Enumclaw High, she made the decision to play for Corban University in Salem, Ore. But when the coach who recruited her resigned from his Corban post, Fornelius began seeking a new home for her collegiate career.
As it turned out, her mother is from Kamloops, B.C., so Fornelius has dual citizenship. Beyond that, she had family who moved to Edmonton two years ago. So on her first visit to the Alberta capital last fall, Fornelius decided to drive past MacEwan University.
“We just kind of checked out the school and drove by when I still thought I was going to the Oregon school,” she recalled. “I thought, ‘this school is actually so nice and the location is really cool, too.’ So when my coach resigned from Oregon, I hit up Dean.”
And the MacEwan University Griffins couldn’t be happier with her decision.
“It just goes to show you that you never know when you speak to somebody where it’s going to go,” said Cordeiro. “Who would have ever thought this player that’s playing for this American team would have had this many ties to Canada, let alone Edmonton. Everything happens for a reason. She’s come in and she’s been tremendous for us.”
Fornelius initially began the season coming in as a second-half substitute, but in a midseason roster shuffle designed to get more scoring in the lineup, Cordeiro moved his American freshman into the starting lineup.
“I think I’m just getting more comfortable,” Fornelius said. “When I had started on the bench before and Dean put me in, I just wanted to make the most of my minutes out there and get the job done, do what I can to the best of my ability.
“I think he’s noticed that and decided to reward me for that. I just try working as hard as I can.”
Fornelius wasted little time rewarding her coach for the vote of confidence. Her first start? She scored her first goal.
Against Manitoba on Oct. 2, she stepped into the box in the 35th minute and delivered a powerful strike past the keeper.
“Honestly, it felt so good,” she said. “I know in previous games, I’d been trying to shoot more because I really wanted to score a goal. Now that I finally did, it’s a relief.
“My first start and then I scored my first goal – I was like ‘wow, this is awesome.’ I guess I’m proving myself.”
MacEwan University competes in the Canada West Universities Athletics Association. Through games of last week, the Griffins were 6-3-3, in second place and had secured a playoff spot.
Saturday, the Griffins hosted the University of Northern British Columbia; Sunday, the MacEwan team hosted the University of Alberta.