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Zezulka named Gatorade soccer player of the year

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

For the past two seasons, Dutchtown forward Zayne Zezulka has been widely regarded as the best soccer player in Ascension Parish. Now, he’s being hailed as the best player in the entire state.

Zezulka has raked in the awards and accolades by the bunches this offseason, and last week, he earned another prestigious title. He was named the 2019-2020 Gatorade Louisiana Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

It’s been very rare for a soccer player in the Baton Rouge area to earn this achievement. New Orleans has dominated the award recently. One of their athletes has won it in five of the last six years.

Zezulka was just too good this past season to not change that. The 6-foot, 170-pound Furman signee put up huge numbers. He scored 43 goals and dished out seven assists.

But it’s not just about individual performance; it’s about the team. Zezulka helped lead the Griffins to one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history.

Coming off of a year that saw them reach the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2012, the Griffins finished the regular season with an 18-5-1 record. They also finished as the District 5 runners-up.

They earned the highest playoff seeding in the parish—boys or girls--at No. 4. This awarded them a first-round bye.

In the second round, they cruised past Acadiana, 5-3--pushing them through to the state quarterfinals for a second straight season.

In the quarterfinals, they met fifth-seeded Jesuit, the team that had ended their season in the same round of the playoffs the year prior. But this time around, it was the Griffins’ time.

Dutchtown trailed the Blue Jays, 1-0, early in the second half. That’s when Zezulka scored to tie the game.

The Griffins would eventually go on to win a hard-fought 2-1 contest that punched their ticket to the state semifinals for only the second time in the program’s history.

It was there that they lost a 4-3 overtime thriller against top-seeded and eventual state champion St. Paul's.

Ever since the year has come to an end, Zezulka has been showered with awards for his amazing senior season.

For the second straight year, he was named the District 5 MVP and the All-Metro MVP. Zezulka was also named the Ascension Parish MVP, and he was hailed as the Louisiana Offensive MVP.

But the Gatorade Louisiana Boys Soccer Player of the Year isn’t just about on-the-field excellence. It’s also about all of the hard work athletes put into their daily lives off of the field.

In addition to being one of the state’s best soccer players, Zezulka is a superb student, earning a weighted GPA of 4.52. He also volunteers at the local animal shelter and food bank in his spare time.

By winning this award, Zezulka is now eligible to win the Gatorade National Player of the Year award, which will be given later this month.

He is the first Dutchtown athlete to be named Gatorade Player of the Year for their respective sport since Leah Scott was named Louisiana Girl’s Track & Field Athlete of the Year in 2018.