Shae-Lynn van Gassen and her soccer teammates at Livonia, Michigan-based Schoolcraft College feel they have some unfinished business to attend to next weekend in Ohio.
The Ocelots lost last season in the Michigan Junior College Athletic Association (MJCAA) Regional Women’s Soccer Tournament final, costing them an opportunity to play in the national tournament. So, when they kick it off at the regional tournament on Oct. 31 in Cincinnati, they’ll have redemption in mind.
“Everyone’s goal this season was to make it to the national championship,” said the 19-year-old van Gassen. “And it’s looking really positive.”
Schoolcraft outscored its opposition 86-1 in clinching the MJCAA crown by winning its first 12 games with relative ease. The college is ranked 13th nationally in the most recent National Junior College women’s soccer poll.
The national tournament will be contested next month in Florida.
And van Gassen has been the offensive backbone of the side this season, ranking second in the nation in goals (27) and points (65) as of press time.
She leads the nation in shots on goal (77) and game winning goals (5) and for her efforts has twice been named Player of the Week in the MJCAA.
“I’m proud of it, but I definitely have to give credit to my whole team, because it’s the whole team that puts the effort in to score,” she said.
The striker has two, four-goal performances this season as well as scoring three times and adding five assists in a game last month. She has only been held off the scoresheet once this season to date.
The Northern Collegiate grad is also captain of the team, a responsibility she doesn’t take lightly.
“As the captain, I’ve got to help them out and make sure they’re comfortable with school and on the field,” she said. “If things aren’t going the way we would like, (on the field) I’ve got to keep everyone calm and stick to our game plan.”
The lone Canadian on the team is also giving back to her adopted community by coaching a boys U10 rec team in Livonia. With coaching now in her blood, it’s something she is interested in pursuing next summer when she returns to Sarnia.
But for now, she preparing to be on the pitch next weekend and help her team’s dream come true.