Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
OTTAWA – When Hannah Supina first hit the field for the MacEwan Griffins in August, it quickly became apparent that somehow, some way the rookie would force herself into head coach Dean Cordeiro's starting 11.
The Fort Saskatchewan product had played all over the pitch in her youth but settled in at left fullback – the position vacated by recently-graduated senior Kristen Skrundz.
Regularly going against the opposition's top outside speedsters, the position requires veteran poise, speed and elite agility. You wouldn't even have guessed Supina was a first-year as she started 10 games and was a rock at the position for the Griffins.
The country has taken notice.
On Wednesday night in Ottawa, Supina was named to the U SPORTS women's soccer all-rookie team, becoming the first player in Griffins program history to achieve the honour.
"This is a truly special moment for Hannah and for the institution," said Cordeiro, who joined Supina in Ottawa to receive recognition at a banquet ahead of the U SPORTS national championship. "It's a great honour and recognition and I'm sure she's going to really enjoy the festivities.
"The one thing about Hannah, she's so soft spoken, she's such a humble kid and she leads by example. She's one of the hardest-working players I've ever had the opportunity to work with, so there's no better player to earn an award like this," he added.
"She's somebody who would truly put her teammates ahead of her and she's just selfless. It makes me extra happy because she's a kid who shows up and plays a role every single day and doesn't expect any more or any less."
That's apparent in the role that she embraced during the 2018 season for the Griffins. Supina played a lot more forward and midfielder in her youth and was used to being a goal scorer, but she just went about her business and took on a defensive role for MacEwan.
Even still, she managed a pair of assists in her first university season. More importantly, though, Supina's defence was a big reason why the Griffins posted their best regular season record (9-3-2) since joining Canada West in 2014.
"Probably of all the positions, fullback would have been her last choice because she's a very offensive-minded player, always around the goal area," said Cordeiro. "At fullback, she's such a great one v one defender.
"After opening weekend, she kind of cemented herself as our left back and we rode her the rest of the way. Other than us resting her the final weekend due to an injury, she became a 90-minute player for us in such a critical area, going up against most teams' best players.
"As a first year, she went up against the steepest of competition. She didn't skip a beat and looked like a third or fourth-year player out there with just the maturity of her game."
Last week, Supina was one of four Griffins players recognized by Canada West in making the conference all-rookie team, joining first-team all-star Jamie Erickson, and second team all-stars Suekiana Choucair and Emily Burns.
She was the only defender out of 11 conference all-rookie selections, though.
"For her to be recognized as the only defender on that all-rookie team – it's probably an award that usually goes to players with more goals and assists – so for her to be recognized by the fellow coaches in our league really speaks volumes to the class of player that she is," said Cordeiro.
Supina is one of six defenders on the U SPORTS all-rookie team, joining Leah Simon (McGill), Ariane Routhier (Laval), Kayla Kyle (Bishop's), Angelica Galluzzo (Western) and Lauren Jodrey (Acadia). She is one of only three Canada West players on the team, joining striker Michelle Jang (UBC) and midfielder Nicole Davis (Manitoba).
In the major U SPORTS women's soccer awards handed out Wednesday night, Trinity Western striker Seina Kashima was named player of the year, Cape Breton striker Erin Freeman won rookie of the year and Lethbridge's Lindsay Amatto won the student-athlete community service award.