Girls Soccer All-Stars Olivia Donahue and Sara Dzaferagic. Photo submitted by Donahue.

As the winter sports season begins to close, it is time to highlight the athletes that stood out during the fall. Seniors Sara Dzaferagic and Olivia Donahue were selected as the 2021 GBL champions for their performance in the fall girls varsity soccer season. 

The GBL All Stars are the conference’s top athletic performers that are voted on and chosen by all coaches within the same conference. GBL coaches meet at the end of the season where they discuss which players stood out to them throughout the season. The first-place team is allotted three all-star selections and the last place team gets one. The schools in the middle get two.

Girls varsity soccer coach, Enrique Caceda stated that it takes “hard work at every practice and at every game to be selected as a GBL champ.”

“It takes so much hard work that [it is] noticed by the other GBL coaches and players,” Caceda added. 

Caceda pointed out that both athletes came from “very different soccer backgrounds.” 

“Sara has played pretty much her whole life and played at a very high-level outside of her high school team. Olivia on the other hand was more of a recreational player when she got to high school…Before her sophomore season, she switched to the very important and challenging position of goalkeeper. By senior year, they were both selected team captains.” 

Dzaferagic expressed her gratitude after being selected as a GBL champ. “Getting awarded for anything feels nice, but knowing how hard I worked and how much effort I put in, [it] is nice to get recognized for my work and my performance.” 

Dzaferagic’s senior season was her biggest challenge  because it was a “year of pressure and important decisions to be made” but she feels as though she “finished her high school career with a really strong senior year.” 

She was also awarded team MVP and commented that her biggest takeaways would be from the challenges she faced, “learning how to lead a team in adversity and be an example and show up and work hard and with a better attitude.” 

 It “means the world to me to be chosen as a GBL all-star this year” Donahue said.

“I have always tried to perform to the best of my ability, I always want to improve and be a better player not only for myself but for my team. It’s an amazing feeling to know that my hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed,” she added. 

Donahue started playing soccer her freshman year as a forward, but decided to try out a different position her sophomore year when the varsity team was looking for a new goalie. Since then, Donahue has been the team’s starting varsity goalkeeper. 

Caceda expressed similar emotions, “it means everything to me, and it makes me very proud. To see these two young ladies work hard every season for four years and have it acknowledged by the GBL is great!” 

On the field, Caceda stated that what set them apart from other athletes on the team was their “never-give-up attitude and work ethic.” 

“In Sara’s case…it wouldn’t matter if we were winning or losing, she never ever quit. Olivia just had the mentality that she wanted to get better at a new position…by senior year with the help of coach Belfer and her hard work she became an all-star goalie” said Caceda. 

As the girls close this chapter on their high school soccer career, both Dzaferagic and Donahue describe the feeling as bittersweet. 

Dzaferagic expressed that as of right now “nothing is set in stone” as she decides whether or not she will continue to play soccer in college. 

“It all depends on if I find the right team, and the right fit…It’s been a good four years, and I’ve gotten to that stage that I’m ready to move on.” 

As for Donahue, she has committed to Dean College Women’s Soccer for the fall 2022 season and is “so excited to be joining them for practices this summer!” In the meantime, she plans on training extra hard during her off-season.

“It is definitely sad to be closing a chapter on my high school soccer career, but I am very excited to be starting new chapters in the near future!” Donahue concluded.

Both seniors were key athletes in bringing their team to success, and have helped create a program that will continue to grow in the years to come. 

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