Bob Shone had shown he could play defense in his first three seasons playing college soccer at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
This season, Shone has shown he can also shine on the offensive end of the field.
The St. Charles East graduate has scored five goals this year to help the Warhawks to a 14-4 record, including a 3-0 mark in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Though he’s listed as a defender on the roster, Shone has spent a lot of time this season playing in the central midfield.
“I play a more defensive role,” he said. “I usually don’t get into the attack that much, but with a couple injuries here and there, I was able to step up in a more attacking role.”
Shone says he has “pushed the envelope” a little bit in terms of attacking, but so far it has worked out. Two of his goals have been game-winners, including one in double overtime Saturday that gave Whitewater a 1-0 victory over conference rival Wisconsin-Superior.
“I made a run into the box and maybe a little bit farther than I should have been, but I got a cross and put it away for the winner,” Shone said.
Shone decided not to waste any time against Finlandia a day later, scoring the first goal of the match just three minutes in. The Warhawks went on to post a 4-0 victory.
For his efforts over the weekend, Shone was named the offensive player of the week in the WIAC. Just a week earlier, he was named the league’s defensive player of the week.
“It did come as a surprise to me,” he said of the initial player of the week honor. “Every single player could have been nominated. … I think the main highlight was we played a stretch of four games in eight days. I played almost every single minute.”
Shone has started every match this season, averaging 73 minutes a contest. Shone attracted the attention of former UW-Whitewater coach Greg Henschel while playing club soccer for the Strikers.
“Ever since my visit, I kind of fell in love with the school,” Shone says. “Whitewater offered everything I was looking for. It was just a perfect fit.”
A finance major, Shone said he was looking for a school with a good business program and a good soccer program. He said the university has made substantial investments in both programs, erecting a new $20 million business building and spending $4 million to construct a new stadium exclusively for soccer.
“The field just is in fabulous shape all the time,” Shone said.
Shone appeared in eight matches and started in one as a freshman in 2010. The Warhawks went 14-2-4 that season and reached the sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III national tournament.
Shone broke into the starting lineup for good his sophomore year, starting all 20 matches for a squad that went 12-8 and lost in the first round of the Division III tournament. The Warhawks stumbled a bit last season, going 8-5-3 and failing to qualify for postseason play. Based on the team’s fast start this season, Shone is hoping Whitewater can return to the national stage and perhaps even make it further than the sweet 16.
“I definitely think it’s an attainable goal this year,“ he said. “We definitely have the athletes to do it.”
He said the team is focusing on taking just one game at a time, but “in the back of everyone’s mind, that’s kind of the goal.”
The biggest stumbling block for the Warhawks in reaching that goal may be conference rival Wisconsin-Oshkosh (11-0-4), ranked sixth in the country. Whitewater meets the Titans in the last regular-season match Nov. 2 in Oshkosh. The No. 1 seed in the conference tournament will be at stake.
“Since my freshman year, it’s really been a rivalry between us and them,” Shone said. “Every match has been heated and it’s always been a close game. … I’ve been fortunate enough to never lose to Oshkosh.”
If that streak continues, it’s a good bet Shone will play a deciding role on one end of the field or the other.
“To me, a shutout is just as important as a goal, but it’s definitely nice to get on the score sheet every once in awhile,” he said.
• Dennis D. Jacobs writes the weekly On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. To suggest local college athletes deserving of recognition, email him at email@example.com.