When it comes to scoring goals, University of Denver’s Andre Shinyashiki is a natural. As the NCAA’s leading-goal scorer, the senior striker has totaled 28 goals through the regular season and the Summit League Tournament, eight more goals than the nation’s second-leading goal-scorer.
“When I get the ball, I’m looking to the goal. I don’t see anything else,” said Shinyashiki. “The feeling of scoring a goal there’s nothing bigger than that.”
It was this raw talent that first attracted head coach Jamie Franks.
“For him, his best game is just when he’s resilient and he’s just constantly and tirelessly working,” said Franks. “All he needs is one second, one moment to change a game.”
Hailing from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Shinyashiki was basically born with a ball at his feet. A picture from his second birthday party shows a smiling toddler in a white jumpsuit, crouching next to a bright-yellow soccer ball.
“When you’re young, everybody plays soccer,” said Shinyashiki. “There’s just this huge culture around soccer that you meet up and family dinners to watch soccer, you meet up on holidays to watch soccer. I feel like it’s kinda like football here in the United States.”
The second-youngest of five, Shinyashiki quickly showed promise in the sport, moving to Europe to train for a year before landing a chance to come to Florida to train at Montverde Academy.
“I think moving away from there at such a young age and going to a place where I didn’t know anybody that was rough,” Shinyashiki recalled. “There were thoughts about going back home always, especially between my junior and senior year, but I thought the sacrifice was going to be worth it in the end.”
Shinyashiki earned multiple honors and awards during his time at Monteverde, landing a scholarship to play for DU in college.
A passionate player, Shinyashiki says he had to learn to turn that energy into a positive when motivating other teammates.
“I used to lose my head a lot in training. I used my emotions and sometimes it would hurt guys that I couldn’t get them going. It would bring them down,” said Shinyashiki.
"The biggest jump that I've seen from his junior year to his senior year is just his emotional intelligence," added Franks. "His understanding of how certain guys give cirticism and how certain guys receive criticism...it's been pretty impressive."
A lot has changed in the six years since Shinyashiki made the move to the United States, but his motivation behind his journey has always been the same.
“My aspiration in life was to make my mom and my dad proud and I think that I can do that through soccer,” said Shinyashiki.
On DU’s Senior Night, Shinyashiki scored his fifth-hat trick of the season with his family watching from the stands.
“I’m proud of my son because this is not a gift. It is something that he conquered,” said Andre’s father, Roberto. “I imagine that he missed his family, and of course we missed him a lot, and it’s so beautiful to see him fight for his dream.”
A captain for the Pio's, Shinyashiki has since been named as the Summit League Offensive Player of the Year.