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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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Stan State’s Zuniga Turns Pro, Heads to Sweden to Continue Soccer Career

After+five+years+and+four+seasons+at+Stan+State%2C+star+defender+and+midfielder+Jenna+Zuniga+is+taking+her+talents+to+Sweden+to+play+professionally.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Stanislaus+State+Athletics%29

After five years and four seasons at Stan State, star defender and midfielder Jenna Zuniga is taking her talents to Sweden to play professionally. (Photo courtesy of Stanislaus State Athletics)

Former Stan State defender and midfielder Jenna Zuniga has signed her first professional contract with Sweden’s Mallbacken IF to continue her soccer career. Zuniga’s signing officially makes her only the third soccer player in Stanislaus State history to play at the professional level, joining Katelyn Nebesnick and Sabrina Williamson.
“I set this goal for myself when I was in middle school, [so] it’s nice to see that my drive has stayed consistent and my goal never changed. I’m grateful for my successful career that assured me I’m ready to play professionally,” Zuniga said.
Stan State head women’s soccer coach, Gabriel Bolton, explained that he is not surprised that Zuniga has the opportunity to play professionally.
“Jenna is a very talented player, but more importantly she has the drive to play professionally,” Bolton said. “It is not an easy lifestyle. Everyone says they want to play pro, but then they find out the grind, effort and determination that’s required.”
Bolton added that Zuniga’s determination to play professionally was evident in the moves she made at the conclusion of Stan State’s 2021 season.
“Jenna was able to connect with an excellent sports agent (Clava Sports Consult) very early in the process and let them go to work for her,” Bolton explained. 
Zuniga was one of only 200 female collegiate soccer players to successfully register for the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League Draft, which took place on Dec. 22. After walking away undrafted, she set her sights abroad.
“The draft was an opportunity to stay in the states and play closer to home. I’m grateful that I was accepted and eligible to be chosen,” Zuniga said. “With going undrafted, I had the option of traveling internationally. My desire to play professionally wasn’t limited to a specific location, I was just looking to get my foot in the door and get my career underway.”
In the days that followed the NWSL Draft, Zuniga was offered the contract from Mallbacken IF of Sweden’s division two league, Elitettan
“The contract came and I took a few days to take it all in and understand what was in front of me, then the decision was made,” Zuniga explained. “It was a fairly easy decision, with the fact that Sweden is a great country and Mallbackens IF is a well rounded club.” 
Zuniga’s Stan State career was filled with success from the start. As a freshman in 2017, she played in each of the Warriors’ 18 games and earned an All-Team honorable mention. Zuniga continued her early success in 2018 as she was named as an All-CCAA Honorable Mention and a Presidential Scholar.
During her junior year in 2019, Zuniga was named to the All-West regional team and was once again received an All-CCAA honorable mention. Her success on the pitch and in the classroom also helped her earn the position of president for Stan State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Zuniga returned for her senior season in 2021 for what was arguable her best year as a Warrior. She helped lead the Warrior defense to one of their most dominant years in program history, as they tied the school record of 12 shutouts. Zuniga and the defense limited opponents to a 43% shots on goal percentage. On top of her defensive dominance, Zuniga scored a goal and had two assist. Her statistics earned her a spot on the All-CCAA first-team.
While Zuniga has had an abundance of success and has made countless memories at Stanislaus State and in her hometown of Manteca, she is looking forward to heading overseas.
“I’m excited to kick start my professional career and travel while doing so. I want to make sure I take advantage of the opportunity to travel,” Zuniga said. “My goal is to travel most of Europe and appreciate the cultures I’m surrounding myself with.”
As Zuniga prepares to leave for Sweden ahead of upcoming 2022 Elitettan season that begins in April, she expressed her gratitude to her coaches, teammates, friends and family members for their support.
“The decision to leave all of my loved ones made it difficult. I’ve be rest assured that I have everyone’s support and well wishes while I’m gone,” Zuniga said.
“We are really proud of Jenna and all of the hard work she has put into furthering her career as a professional soccer players,” Bolton said. “We can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.”
You can follow Zuniga’s journey with Mallbackens IF through the club’s official website, Facebook and Instagram pages. For the latest news on Stanislaus State women’s soccer, you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Stan State’s Zuniga Turns Pro, Heads to Sweden to Continue Soccer Career