Four local soccer plays have been named to the rosters for the High School All-American game on Dec. 5 in Raleigh, N.C.
Gary Zhao and Bryce Curran, both Mason High School and CUP Gold of Cincinnati United Soccer Club players, are two of the 20 boys on the West team. Olivia Silverman (Seven Hills) and M.A. Vignola (St. Ursula) were named to the girls team.
“Every player dreams of this,” said Curran. “This is a great opportunity to play with the best high school players in the country.”
Both Zhao and Curran gave credit to Mason coach Paul Reedy and their teammates, both with the Comets and on their club squad, for helping them reach this lifelong goal. The duo have been teammates for the past five years.
‘I’m definitely grateful for Coach Reedy, my parents, and all of my teammates and coaches,” said Zhao, a University of Chicago commit. “I feel proud and extremely honored.”
Added Curran, a Xavier University commit, “This couldn’t have happened without the support of Coach Reedy, Mason, and everyone at Cincinnati United. I’m thankful and blessed to represented Mason and CUP.”
The players were notified that they made the All-American Game watch list, then received emails in October from the game’s director notifying them that they were selected. They will travel to Raleigh for a day of training with their squad, attend the NCAA Division I Women’s College Cup semifinals, play the All-American games, then attend the College Cup final.
“I’m extremely happy that my hard work and dedication have paid off after all these years,” said Zhao. “This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid.”
Silverman, who will play for Saint Louis University, and Vignola, who has committed to Tennessee, have been teammates for several years as well, playing club soccer for Ohio Elite. They were also teammates at Saint Ursula before Silverman transferred to Seven Hills. They are looking forward to sharing this experience together.
“She’s been my best friend since middle school, so it will be even more special to do this with her,” said Silverman. “It’s still kind of sinking in. It’s surreal to think about. I’m excited to represent my school and my city.”
While all four players have natural skills that stand out, it is their work ethic that sets them apart from their peers and competition. Their year-round dedication to their training is why they are now among the top 40 players in their class in the nation.
“I think younger players can learn a ton from players like Olivia and M.A., most importantly that achieving the highest level takes a tremendous amount of dedication and commitment,” said Ohio Elite girl’s director of coaching Doug Bracken. “They train with great intensity and competitiveness. They set the tone at our training sessions. Young players need to understand that being an All-American does not happen by accident. It takes work.”
Silverman shared that sentiment. She saw two older Bulldogs teammates earn All-American honors and knew that she wanted to reach that same level. The goalkeeper committed to putting in the effort to realize that goal.
“You have to work hard every day,” she said. “Never take one day for granted.”