GVSU's Shaba: an All-American competitor
GVL / Archive - Jenny Shaba
When it comes to resumes, it’s hard to beat Jenny Shaba's.
Shaba, now a senior, showed promise immediately as a true freshman for the Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team. As a two-star prospect out of Walled Lake Western High School, Shaba played in 21 of GVSU’s 25 matches in 2011, her freshman campaign. The numbers, as is the case for many freshmen, weren’t anything to fawn over. Shaba simply played her role while learning from and playing with some of GVSU’s finest.
Her statistics saw a small spike in 2012 as Shaba appeared in all 25 games, including nine starts at forward. Shaba scored seven goals that season, including her first career tally during the second game of the season. A game-winning goal in the GLIAC Quarterfinals, however, was likely the most important of her season. It also set a precedent that Jenny Shaba is a clutch player.
Few things could be more true.
“Jenny really gets in the game in the final third,” said senior defender Juane Odendaal. “And when Jenny is in the game, Jenny is in the game. Her determination on the field is absolutely insane. She’s a very strong player when her mind is set.”
Shaba’s junior season was a breakout year in nearly every manner imaginable. Aided by her mystifying on-ball skill, the Lakers surged to a 24-0-1 record and an NCAA Division II National Championship. Shaba scored 16 goals and notched 44 points, good enough to earn a number of impressive accolades. She was tabbed as the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year, a Daktronics, Inc. All-America First Team honoree and a NSCAA All-America First Team selection.
Shaba’s astounding poise and skill in late-game pressure situations began to stand out with each passing game. The 2013 season saw Shaba net five game-winning goals, including one in the NCAA Semifinals against American International University.
For anyone who has watched Shaba in the past, however, few of these accolades or accomplishments come as a surprise. The 21-year-old forward has an offensive presence that is rivaled only by her intensity, competition and drive. Late in games, Shaba’s dark eyes dial in with a fierce concentration, and the end game often shows a ball dialing into the back of the net.
Getting in her way is the only option for most defenders.
“When Jenny is confident taking players on, in a true one-on-one situation, I’d favor her in every one of them,” said GVSU head coach Jeff Hosler. “She has a knack to score goals and she’s a very good ball-striker.
“She’s one of those players with the ability to create something special at any given moment during the match.”
As is the case with scores of great athletes, Shaba thrives on the possibility of competition and the tantalizing opportunity for late-game glory. She earned multiple looks from schools in the Midwest eager to land her skills, but ultimately decided on GVSU due to their continued success and near-guarantee of playing against the best Division II has to offer every year.
With her vast skill and fourth-year experience, Shaba is undeniably a leader for the talented Lakers. She credits former GVSU standouts Kayla Addison, Ashley Botts and Maria Brown for teaching her the level of talent and commitment needed to be successful at the college level.
Shaba has filled the cleats of GVSU stars before her with aplomb and, unfortunately for her GLIAC competition, she is nowhere close to being done.
“It’s my last guaranteed season,” Shaba said. “I’m not going to have any regrets. I’ll be leaving it all out on the field at the end of each game.”
Shaba and the rest of the No. 1 Lakers will kick off their season at home on Sept. 5 against Quincy University.