Ready to Rep The Girls In Green: Marissa Sheva
Marissa Sheva is going to the World Cup. However, her road to the World Cup has not just been straight ahead. With a lot of detours, turnarounds, and new routes, Sheva is finally on her way to Australia and New Zealand.
Sheva is a Pennsylvania native and played her collegiate soccer at Penn State University. During her freshman season in 2015, she helped the team to the NCAA tournament where they won it all. After being a starter for most of her four years at Penn State and wracking up the accolades she had to decide what to do next.
While repping the Nittany Lions, she scored 13 goals in 92 appearances and was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on two occasions. She not only excelled on the field but off, being named to the Big Ten All-Academic during three of her four years at State College.
As a two-sport athlete, she was given the choice to finish up her senior track season or declare for the 2019 NWSL draft. Sheva was the first two-sport athlete on the soccer team since Maura Ryan who attended Penn State from 2006-2008. At the Big Ten Championships for track in 2018, Sheva placed 11th in the mile with her personal-best time of 4:45.51. She also excelled in relays of long distance, helping Penn State to many top-ten finishes.
Although Sheva loved track, soccer was always going to be her number one. Becoming a professional was in her plans but her journey to the NWSL took a different route. Ultimately, Sheva did not declare for the draft, heading overseas to begin her career.
She left the USA to go and play abroad in Spain, where she joined Deportivo Alaves Gloriosas in the Spanish first tier for a short time before returning to the States. Back in the U.S. she attended Utah Royals preseason camp and was then signed by them for the 2020 season.
Unfortunately, 2020 had different plans, with COVID putting a halt to the NWSL season. With the inaugural Challenge Cup taking place over a regular season Sheva's path to the league was again disrupted. While signed to the Royals, she trained but did not make a single appearance for the Utah-based team.
In 2021, Sheva was faced with significant injury and had to undergo hip surgery. This sidelined her for quite some time. While she was rehabbing, the Utah Royals released her from her contract. Although she barely saw the field in 2021, Sheva knew she could play at the professional level, which all leads to where she is now.
After this, she climbed all of the ranks at Washington Spirit, where she is signed until the end of the 2023 season. Her injury comeback led her to be signed as a practice player for the spirit to help her reach full fitness. She was later signed as a Covid-19 replacement player and then moved on to a D45 Injury replacement player before eventually reaching the last stop.
During her stint as a Covid replacement player for Washington, she found out she'd be dressing for the first time. On June 4 against the NJ/NY Gotham FC at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey she made her pro debut. Being from Pennsylvania her friends and family were able to attend making the moment all the more special. Although the Spirit lost the game, she made it known she was a player who the team would need.
She was signed as an international replacement player which was the perfect chance for her to make a even stronger case for herself. Sheva was fully and officially signed as a well-deserved roster player in August of 2022.
Since then Sheva has been integral for the Spirit. This season she has started two games but has been an asset off the bench playing in eight other matches during the season. She is a player that the Spirit is going to want to keep around long-term.
The Orange and Green
There have been a lot of firsts for Marissa Sheva this season. With her international debut probably being the biggest one. The first international call-up came in February this year, and even though she is native to Pennsylvania this call-up came for Ireland WNT. After getting her citizenship in 2021, Sheva became qualified to represent Ireland through her grandparents. Although Sheva has had some youth appearances for the USA, her heart was set on representing the Girls In Green. She approached the Irish national team coach, Vera Pauw, during the summer of 2022 to talk about what possibilities lay ahead for her.
“I reached out to Vera last summer, just to kind of see how the squad was looking and to see if there’d be any opportunities to come into a camp," explained Sheva.
And there was an opportunity for the 26-year-old midfielder, who is listed as a forward on the World Cup squad list and can also play as a winger or a wing-back. Shevas's versatility, physique, and athleticism, which she's brought with her from her college track days, is one of the reasons she's made the roster.
International football is becoming more physical, faster, and more technical. All skills in which she excels in. She has previously spoken about the adaptation from playing in the NWSL to the style of play that Vera Pauw wants the Girls in Green to play. Sheva added that they play a similar style in her club, Washington Spirit in the NWSL, which makes adapting even easier.
“In this Ireland formation, where there’s pocket players behind the striker, it is very similar to our approach at Washington. It is 4-4-2 but with a diamond. I’ve been playing off the right.”
Sheva has spoken about how because of this and how welcoming and helpful the rest of the team has been, it hasn't been that hard to adapt to the new team and become comfortable. This came to show when she got her debut as a half-time substitute when Ireland played against China in a friendly in February of her first camp.
Many people have deemed Marissa Sheva as an ace, a hidden gem, and a new Ireland favorite. Because she is a newcomer she has the opportunity to surprise and gain some new fans. Ireland is in the same group as the co-host, Australia, and will start their first-ever world cup campaign against the Matildas on the gold coast.
In her four-game-long Ireland career, she has played against top teams such as China, the USA, and France. She's talked about how important it is for the team and herself to play against tough opponents. To build confidence and know where they stand amongst the best in the world and what they have to work on or how they need to organize themselves to make it to the knockout rounds.
“Objectively, we have a tough group but there's a chance to squeeze out of it. The only way to prepare for that group is by facing the other top teams,” said Sheva.
There is no doubt that Marissa Sheva is looking forward to playing in the World Cup, and there is even less doubt that she is “immensely proud” to represent Ireland and her own family heritage this summer in Australia.
"I love representing Ireland - I want to continue representing the country for as long as I'm able to."