A sophomore who has already committed to Notre Dame, Sierra forward Jadyn Shinn wants to leave her mark on a team she speaks of in reverent tones.
“It’s definitely an honor to be part of a winning program with great coaches,” she said. “I just want to help keep that legacy going.”
Shinn has set personal goals, which include the school’s scoring records, but above all she wants to go away with at least one Sac-Joaquin Section championship. It has already evaded the Manteca Bulletin All-Area Girls Soccer MVP twice, but she said the failures — as few as they may be — of the past two seasons has only inspired her and the rest of the Timberwolves to work harder to achieve that goal.
Despite a runner-up finish in the SJS Division III playoffs, Sierra enjoyed one of its best seasons under Manuel Pires, who started the 2016-17 campaign with his 400th career win — all with Sierra. The Timberwolves battled through injuries and sicknesses to some of their top players and managed to get through the Valley Oak League with just one loss and the title. They finished 25-3 overall.
Shinn,meanwhile, broke through in a big way, following up on an impressive freshman year. A position change — from attacking midfielder to striker — was beneficial for both Sierra and Shinn, whose 108 points (42 goals, 24 assists) ranked her third in the section and eighth in the state. She now has 65 goals and 40 assists for her career at Sierra.
“I got to play forward most of the year, so I had a lot more opportunities and I tried to capitalize as much as I could,” she said. “I was surrounded by good players in the midfield. I was able to finish when I needed to, but my teammates were able to find me. That really helped out.”
Shinn has her sights set on the program’s scoring records held by 2009 graduate Nicole Vanni, who played at San Francisco State after pouring in 53 goals her senior year and 106 total over her decorated four-year varsity career. Vanni was also named a National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas High School All-American.
Shinn will have to chase those numbers without senior captains Kaleigh Doyle (26 goals, 20 assists) and Kyndra Kiser (10 goals, 17 assists), bound for CSU East Bay and UC Merced, respectively. She views both as “older sisters” and “role models” who helped create a special team bond.
“I’m definitely going to work toward that goal (to break the school’s scoring records),” Shinn said. “I’ll try my hardest to and do what it takes to help the team win, and if it comes that would be great.”
Shinn factored into the scoring in 25 of Sierra’s 28 matches and had four hat tricks. She scored three times in four postseason games, including her team’s final two.
Her quick strike in the Timberwolves’ 1-0 semifinal win over Merced stands out as the highlight in Shinn’s season. She scored about 30 seconds into the contest with a deft touch on a leaping half-volley attempt set up by Jasmine Loaiza. Shinn had a near-miss in the second half that was also worthy of a highlight reel, but her chest trap-and-volley try struck the crossbar.
“We knew how talented Merced is and we prepared for a tough game, so from the very beginning we wanted to start off with high pressure,” Shinn said. “They started with the ball but they were a little nervous with hit because of our pressure.
“When the ball got to me I thought that could be our only chance of the game, so to be able to finish that felt amazing. It gave us some momentum for the rest of the game.”
Sierra, seeded second, couldn’t get that same momentum rolling soon enough in the title round against No. 1 Vista del Lago, which buried two early goals en route to a 3-1 win. Shinn’s first-half goal, assisted by Doyle, closed the Timberwolves to within one.
It was Sierra’s eighth appearance in a section final, and it was going after blue banner No. 5. As much as it hurt to lose that game, Shinn said the team, which returns the bulk of its core players next year, knows what it takes to get there. The end to Sierra’s fall 2015 season was far more heartbreaking. As the top-seeded squad in Division IV, Sierra was stunned by No. 9 West Campus 1-0 despite thoroughly dominating the game.
“It was a big accomplishment for our program to make it to the section finals,” Shinn said. “We fought our hardest, but they were a very good team and it just didn’t go in our favor.
“I think we’re taking it as a positive (experience). We’ll be even more motivated in the years to come. We have the taste of being in the final. The feeling was great just getting there, but we want to know what the feeling is to actually win it.”