Despite her fantastic season, Mikayla Hamilton was still taken aback from the honour she received last Thursday.
She was sitting in class with five of her teammates from the Douglas College Royals women’s soccer team when they all got a message on their phones about Hamilton being named PACWEST’s women’s player of the year.
“When I was in class I was shaking and my mouth dropped open,” said Hamilton, “after I read it I thought oh my god, I won!”
Despite the surprise reaction, it’s no surprise to some that Hamilton received the honours.
Royals head coach Chris Laxton didn’t seem too surprised about Hamilton earning the award.
“It was her goal coming into the year,” said Laxton. “She’s worked really hard in her three years with us. She’s more mature in all areas of the game, and she’s able to recover quicker from mistakes.”
Hamilton, 20, came close to snagging the honours last season when she was the runner-up in voting. In 2016-17, she scored seven goals in 11 games despite starting only one game. The end of her season was a sign of things to come as she had five goals in her last three games.
After finishing as runner-up last year, Hamilton had player of the year honours on her radar.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I could win player of the year,” said Hamilton.
Now that she’s in her third season, Hamilton’s becoming a dominant player in local university soccer.
“In my first year, I was playing against girls who were 25 years old. Now, the age gap has shrunk and it’s easier for me to find space out there.”
This season, Hamilton had six goals in 12 games as a leader for the team. Teams are increasingly game-planning against her, and for good reason.
“There’s definitely an awareness when she’s on the field,” said Laxton. “She’s a player you’re always aware of when she’s playing.”
Hamilton isn’t the only Surrey player making waves for the Royals. In fact, nearly half the team is made up of Surrey players, largely in part to Kwantlen Polytechnic University axeing their varsity programs in 2015.
One of those players includes Sonali Dholliwar, who’s also up on the PACWEST women’s soccer leaderboard with a pair of goals on the season.
“Sonali is one of our players who has had a great year,” Laxton said. “She could play anywhere on the field for us. Her best strength is that she’s a good dribbler, she creates a lot of chances for us because of that.”
As for Hamilton, she says that she has one dominant trait that helps her out when she’s out on the turf.
“My speed is my biggest asset,” said Hamilton. “But, I like scoring goals too.”
Hamilton has been a key part of the Royals’ success over the past three years. She was part of a team that won the provincials in 2015, and one that finished runner-up in 2016.
Going into the weekend, the Royals were gunning for the provincial championship for the second time in three years.
“We’re so pumped,” Hamilton said. “We can’t stop talking about it. We’re going to have to come out super hungry because a lot of people are gunning for us.”
Come out hungry, they did, as the Royals were crowned provincial champions on Saturday night.
On Friday night, the Royals beat the Vancouver Island Mariners women’s soccer team 2-1. Hamilton scored the winning goal for the Royals in the victory.
— Quest Kermodes (@QuestKermodes) October 28, 2017
That victory sent them to the finals, where the Royals once again claimed victory with a 3-2 victory against the Capilano University Blues on penalty kicks.
With the win, the Royals will travel to Halifax to compete in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association’s 2017 National Championship for women’s soccer.
It’s another great achievement for the Royals’ soccer program, who will host the same national championship next year. Hamilton will be sticking around with the team for a fourth season next year in anticipation of the event.
“When we host nationals next year, it’s going to be insane,” she said.
This year’s national tournament will take place in Nova Scotia from Nov. 8th to 11th.