Jadyn Shinn’s preference was to go to Central Valley, where all of her friends were going to end up.
Her parents, though, are Ceres High grads.
“It would have been a tough decision,” she said.
One that did not need to be made after all.
The Shinns moved to Manteca during her eighth-grade year, and she has since starred on Sierra’s decorated girls soccer team. Her younger brother, Jordan, was a starting defender as a freshman on Sierra’s varsity boys soccer Valley Oak League championship team.
In just two-plus years with the Timberwolves, Jadyn is already one goal away from tying the program’s career record and has a chance to do it tonight against Central Valley (20-1-2), the third-seeded team in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III bracket. Shinn and the second-seeded Timberwolves (24-0-2) host the Hawks at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium starting at 6:30.
“I know pretty everyone on the team,” Shinn said after practice Tuesday. “I don’t know them well enough to where we hang out, but I’ve played against most of them pretty much my whole life. I grew up there, so I know them and went to school with them. It’s pretty awesome to go up against people you grew up with.”
Shinn is currently tied for third in the section with 41 goals, according to MaxPreps, the latest two coming off two headers on corner-kick crosses in Sierra’s 2-1 quarterfinal win over rival Manteca last Friday.
It’s worth noting that Shinn missed Sierra’s first seven matches of the season as she wrapped up her commitment with the San Jose Earthquakes Girls Academy team. She debuted her junior campaign with a hat trick in the T’wolves’ 3-0 win at Golden Valley, and the Notre Dame commit has scored in every game since.
“It’s so much fun,” Shinn said of her time at Sierra. “It’s a different feel from club. I was counting down the days, and watching them practice had me eager to get back out there and play with them again.”
Shinn’s career goal total stands at 106. Nicole Vanni, who graduated from Sierra in 2009, holds the record with 107, including a single-season record 53 during a sterling senior campaign in which she was named a National Soccer Coaches Association/adidas All-American before heading to San Francisco State.
Although it’s common for players of her caliber to prioritize their club teams over high school, Shinn relishes her opportunities to compete for Manuel Pires, the only varsity girls soccer coach Sierra has had.
“She shows her love for the game, even though it’s high school,” Pires said. “She fits in well and plays for the whole team. It’s really a blessing to have a player with that kind of talent who enjoys playing at the high school level. She’s definitely one of the top players I’ve had the pleasure to coach here.”
Pires has led Sierra to three section championships, but in the way of the Timberwolves’ 10th final-round appearance is a talented Central Valley side that reached the second round of the competitive Division II bracket a year ago.
The Hawks’ lone loss of the season was to rival Ceres in Western Athletic Conference play. They’re led by a pair of juniors in Jocelyn Lopez (33 goals, nine assists) and Jackie Sanchez (15 goals, 12 assists).
The winner battles top-seeded Rio Americano (18-0-2) or No. 4 Woodland (17-1-5) for the Division III banner Saturday, noon at either Cosumnes Oaks or Elk Grove. Rio Americano (second), Sierra (seventh) and Central Valley (ninth) are in the top 10 of the MaxPreps SJS Division III rankings, while Woodland is 15th.
“We have four teams in this round and out of those four teams there are only two losses,” Pires said. “There’s a reason why these teams got this far, they are that good. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.
“We saw (Central Valley) play Tracy at the Delta College Showcase in December. They’re very strong and can move the ball around.”
With all that is at stake for Shinn and Sierra, she’s not adding anymore pressure on herself to perform. Past postseason heartbreak is enough motivation for the standout striker. In her freshman year, the top-seeded Timberwolves were upset by West Campus in the second round, and last year they were outmatched by Vista del Lago 3-1 in the championship.
“Honestly, I’m just going to go out there and try my best,” she said. “I’m not focused on anything but my team and us winning, and I’m going to do anything I can to help us win. I don’t care if I don’t score. We’ve worked so hard for this, so whatever I can do to help the team win is what I’ll do.”