Lake’s Antonacci named soccer’s Player of the Year
Shelby Antonacci didn’t just stumble into winning this year’s Northern Buckeye Conference Player of the Year award.
The Lake senior, 18, has been playing soccer since she was 5 years old, and it shows.
“What separates Shelby from a lot of players is her tactical awareness,” second-year Lake coach Kevin Lanning said. “She understands the game almost from a coach's standpoint and can see the big picture. She knows what to do two or three movements ahead of her opponents.”
Antonacci earned Suburban Lakes League Co-Player of the Year honors with Woodmore’s Taylor Avers two years ago, and Avers won the award again last season. Antonacci has earned first-team all-league honors four times and first-team all-district honors three times.
“I played travel (soccer) with the Greater Toledo Football Club, and I was always the youngest one,” Antonacci said. “They didn’t have teams for my age yet, so I played three years ahead of my age bracket. I was playing on U-8 and U-9 teams as a 6-year-old. I had to be at their level, so it challenged me to play faster and play smarter and be more aggressive.
“Sooner or later, I was playing on boys’ teams indoors for about two years. It was hard to get used to at first. I had to be more aggressive with them and show them I could play with them. I had to work harder, and it’s helped me learn quicker than other players.”
Antonacci had 17 goals and 17 assists as a freshman and followed with 14 goals and 12 assists as a sophomore. Last year she scored 25 goals with eight assists, and she had 21 goals and 11 assists this season. She has more career goals (77) and assists (48) than anyone in Lake history and led the Flyers to four conference titles.
“Shelby is the type of player any coach should want on their team,” Lanning said. “Not only because of her skill level and how she can take over any game, but because of the type of teammate she is. She really is all about the team and doing what needs to be done to make sure the team succeeds. She had no problem helping her teammates during practice.”
The Flyers finished 14-3 and won the NBC title with a 10-0 record this season. In the process, Antonacci was named to the All-Ohio second team for the third straight year.
“I just tried my best, as I normally do,” she said. “I wanted to help the team succeed with a lot of wins this season. It just so happened I won player of the year. I was surprised I got it my senior year. I thought a lot of other people stepped up this season.”
Antonacci scored two or more goals in a game five times this season, and she had at least two assists four times. She said her most memorable goal this year was against NBC rival Rossford.
“Alyssa Shaffer had a really good cross, and out of nowhere I ran up and headed it in the back post,” Antonacci said. “Alyssa improved a lot this season. It was fun for us, being seniors and doing something together (on that goal). She was surprised and very happy. She was like, ‘That probably will never happen again.’ ”
Antonacci plans to play for coach Brad Evans at the University of Toledo and major in pharmacy next season.
Lanning is convinced Antonacci will succeed at the next level.
“I don't think Shelby puts too much stock into personal awards,” he said. “They are awesome accomplishments and she knows her hard work and the help of her teammates made achieving them possible. But, she is hungry for more. She is poised to continue her growth as a player and will have a solid college career. When she is older and done playing, hopefully she can look back and really enjoy what she did, because it is truly remarkable.”