Candace 'Canada' McDole excelling in net for Scots

Category:  Sports
Friday, October 4th, 2019 at 11:07 AM

Since she was 3 years old, Candace “Canada” McDole has been playing lacrosse in one form or another. A junior health and physical education major with a concentration of sport and recreation management and a minor in athletic coaching, she is a native of Maple Ridge, an area near Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.

Seventeen years later, she’s earned the nickname of “Canada” while serving as the goalkeeper for the Edinboro women’s lacrosse team. In 2018, she broke the Edinboro record for single-season saves with 222, following that up in 2019 with 213. In 2018, she also ranked second in NCAA Division II in saves per game, nearly 14, and set the school record for save percentage in a season at .520. She came back in 2019 with a .495 save percentage.

In 2019, she was also the statistical champion for NCAA Division II women’s lacrosse with 5.18 ground balls per game. A ground ball is when the ball changes possession during live play.

When asked how it felt to earn these achievements, McDole humbly replied: “I guess pretty good, but there’s always room for improvement. Once you get on top, it’s harder to stay up there.” 

However, it’s been a long time coming for McDole, who started her now decorated career at age three, with box lacrosse being her first games. Box lacrosse varies slightly from field lacrosse, with it being played indoors by only five players. By the time McDole had 17 years of box lacrosse under her belt and was a sophomore in high school, she began playing field lacrosse, where she is currently in her ninth year of playing.

“Well, it’s (lacrosse) is basically my life.” McDole paused before adding quickly, “It is my life — not basically — it is my life.”

McDole’s father and older brother Mitch were her big influences in choosing to play lacrosse. She stated that when she was younger, she was playing several different sports, such as hockey, but after she made the national team for box lacrosse at age 12, her father pushed her to focus on one. Her older brother played lacrosse, as well.

“My brother has definitely been my biggest influence. Every sport he played, I wanted to play growing up, so that’s kind of why I did what I did. He also chose lacrosse when he was around the same age that I chose,” she said.

The fast-paced, teamwork-centric aspects of lacrosse is what draws McDole in most. She has a keen eye for reading the field, something she attributes to her experience in playing other field sports. McDole takes great pleasure in trying to read plays and be one step ahead of everyone else in her position as goalkeeper.

Sidney Dobbins, senior midfielder, described McDole as “hardworking.” Dobbins added: “She’s just an awesome teammate; she’s always there for you, she’s so kind, so caring and so compassionate toward others. Her drive on the field—it’s unbeatable...She’s a great, great teammate.”
McDole’s favorite time on the field is when the ball is in her end. “Obviously, I like when it’s in the offensive end because we’re gonna try to score, but when it’s in my end, I get more action.”

Of her most memorable moment, McDole recalled a tournament that occurred during spring break of her freshman year. Everything was going wrong: the bus broke down, they were losing by four or five points to Georgian Court at Georgian Court, and the 90 second shot clock broke, delaying the game.

After halftime, McDole got her head in the game, and then, magic happened. “I’ve never made that many saves in my life — it just felt like I stopped everything — it was so weird. Then my one teammate kept scoring, and then finally, we were up by one or two.” After a few more saves, McDole had unwittingly broke the save record for Edinboro, which she later found out on the bus thanks to a tweet by the university.

However, her current position as goalkeeper has not always been her first nor favorite. McDole has played every position and didn’t find herself playing goalie until one fateful practice in high school. It was a no-show from the usual goalkeeper, so her coach, Pat Coyle, who coached for the national men’s league, threw her in the goal and started “ripping them as hard as he could and I was saving them.”

“He was like ‘F***, you’re pretty good, do you want to play on a travel team?’” recalled McDole.

This led to her playing games across the U.S., and her talent did not go unnoticed by schools. Ultimately, she chose EU because she liked the coach at the time, the scenic campus, and wanted to explore a new area far from home. Although the coach has since moved on, McDole cites the mentorship from current coach Leighann Stauffer and graduate assistant Jalen Middlebrooks as “great influences to learn from.”
“They know what we need to do, we just need to execute it.”

In addition to working and playing hard on the field, McDole serves on the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), where she and her teammates raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She also serves on the board of the MacCato Crew, a new effort by athletics to further campus involvement with sports.

“[I like] just being able to represent the athletes in a different way and getting to know all the other athletes, as well. And being a part of Make-A-Wish, it is so nice to see that kid’s dream come true with the circumstances they’re under.”

For the upcoming season, McDole expressed her excitement about the changing of the conference to east-west divisions and about her newest teammates, who she described as “unreal” and believes “can do a lot of damage this year.” No one may stay at the top forever, but with these positive affirmations and McDole’s already prolific achievements, much can be expected from the north of the border goalkeeper this year.

Candace McDole was asked to put together a pregame playlist. You can see her selections below. For rationale behind songs, pick up a physical copy of The Spectator. 

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