Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
OXFORD – Oxford High School senior Gina Manzi just finished her best season on the girls soccer team which will certainly get her some all-star attention, but it's her academics that have driven her to a top five ranking in her class and a step closer to her goal to attend college to become a pharmacist.
As co-captain of the Pirates team, Manzi completed her four-year career with a stellar campaign, helping the Pirates to their best record in recent years with her solid defensive play.
Along with fellow seniors and co-captains Emily Dawidczyk (who is Manzi’s first cousin), and Dominique Lesieur, the Lady Pirates were 5-10-2 but played much better than their record indicated losing several close games.
“I feel like our record didn’t reflect the talent on our team, I feel like the girls put a lot of effort into every game,” said Manzi “and there were unlucky things and different scenarios that we couldn’t help”.
Still the Pirates were better than they were in their three previous seasons and tied Shepherd Hill 6-6 in one of the season’s most exciting games.
Manzi also was a part of Dawidczyk’s record-breaking season in which her cousin became the school’s all-time leading scorer and also led Central Mass in scoring.
Dawidczyk and Manzi have played soccer together since they were both 10 years old and have been teammates not only in high school but on club teams as well.
“She had an awesome season and she is so versatile that it just helped out a ton,” said Dawidczyk about Manzi. “Any gap that was there, Gina would definitely fill it. We were an inexperienced team so with her switching and playing every position she really helped us without hearing her ever complain. She helped and taught the younger girls a lot.”
As for not being around or playing with ‘best friend’ Dawidczyk, Manzi said, “It will be weird not being with her and not playing with her especially next year-- I can’t picture it yet.”
“Knowing that my soccer career is over, it still hasn’t hit me yet. I’m slowly realizing that I am never going to go on the soccer field again. I’m never going to put on an Oxford uniform again. I learned a lot here, but I know its time to move on. I am ready to branch out and see everything”.
Manzi, who is a member of the National Honor Society, is also the secretary of the Student Council, and has spent four years in the “Best Buddies Club” which she calls “the best club ever,” will also play Indoor Track in the winter and Outdoor Track in the Spring before graduation.
As a long distance and relay runner on the track team, Manzi was not always so sure that she could put all the extra time into playing sports, since her real passion was doing well in school and excelling in her academics.
“I have had a real love-hate relationships with my athletics,” she said smiling, “because academics is always first, it has been a tough struggle at times-- but now that I am realizing that this is my last chance to play these sports.”
Manzi plans to follow in the footsteps of several of her family members and attend the Mass College Of Pharmacy in Boston, but is also applying to Rutgers University and the University of Rhode Island to keep her options open. She does know that, wherever she goes to school,she will be looking at six years and hard of work to reach her goal.
For someone like Gina Manzi, who gives it all in everything she does, it should be a piece of cake.