Gabi Dolan, whose play in goal was one of the driving forces behind the best season in Solanco girls soccer history, will further her education and soccer career at Hood College.
Hood College is an NCAA Division III school located in Frederick, Md., about two hours away from Quarryville.
"I like the location of it," Dolan said. "It was far enough away from home that it was a cool place with independence. But also, close enough that my parents could come to my games and I could go home whenever I want to."
York College was a viable option but ultimately Dolan's choice came down to Hood and Juniata.
"I really liked both of the coaches and I just had this feeling when I was at Hood. I got to play at a camp there and I just really felt good there. They have a really nice biology department, that's what I'm majoring in, and some really good internship opportunities Both athletically and academically, it was just the best choice."
Dolan plans to minor in public health and possibly enter the medical research field.
Dolan is ecstatic to have earned the opportunity to keep playing the sport she loves. "I've always wanted to play in college," she said. "I just love it so I want to play as long as I can. I started seriously thinking about it my freshman and sophomore years of high school. When I started looking at colleges based on what I wanted, I really wanted soccer to be a factor."
Dolan was already on the radar of college coaches prior to her senior season. What a season it was. Solanco set a school record for wins (14-6-2), made its first-ever appearance in the district tournament where the Mules upset the top seed, and came within one win away from a berth in the state tournament.
"I think this season was just icing on the cake," Dolan said. "It was just a great topper. I had a great team to play with. Everybody was awesome."
Dolan had 10 of her career school record 16 shutouts and was named a first team Section Three All-Star.
"Gabi was an amazing student-athlete," Solanco coach Ken Yoder said. "She was really the complete package as far as being an example of what that term really means. Her academic excellence was superior. She won L-L League Academic All-Star honors her senior year. As we know, that excellence carried over into the field as well. The team leader that she was was great. She will really be missed in the net for us. She had a way of making that very special save that just kept us in the game day in and day out."
While she has accomplished great things in goal and in the classroom, Yoder is most proud of the character and leadership Dolan demonstrated.
"One game I will remember the rest of my life is the second round match against Fleetwood," said Yoder. "We were coming off of such an emotional high after knocking off Lower Dauphin a couple of nights before and we battled through two overtimes and we were scoreless. The girls were exhausted. I selected Gabi to kick the first penalty kick, having full confidence she would make it. After making it I was hoping she wouldn’t have to worry about kicking later and could concentrate on just making some saves. Well, that is exactly what she did. She made her kick and went on to save two penalty kicks to help lead us to victory. One of the best parts was a comment one of the referees made to me after the game. He noticed that after the winning shot from Graci Unger that Gabi immediately went to the other keeper to shake her hand and honor her, and then went to celebrate with her teammates. Just thinking about that whole moment brings tears to my eyes."
Dolan credits her coaches and teammates. "Everyone I've have played with at Solanco, especially this last team, has been a big help," she said. "This year was just amazing. I couldn't have asked for a group of nicer girls, or better girls to play with. Coach Yoder and Coach (Matt) Jansen have both been very helpful with teaching me how to play goalie to the best of my ability," Dolan said. "(Youth league coach) Justin Hollinger and the coach of my club team (Rage United), Michelle Fisher. She was awesome. She put us in tournaments. I got to play all winter and all spring which also really helped me develop."
While at Solanco, Dolan was also active in the pep band, marching band, FCA, and Spanish Honor Society, and also helped run the blood drive. Her senior did year did not end the way she or her classmates could have envisioned.
"It's kind of disappointing. I'm not going to lie." Dolan said. "We're not able to experience things we've been looking forward to our whole lives. It's definitely memorable. It's given me a chance to appreciate what I have. I'm just kind of rolling with it and hoping for the best with the upcoming school year and season."
Dolan is thankful to everyone who has helped her achieve her dream of playing college soccer. "My family is the best," she said. "My parents (John and Teresa) have been so supportive. My sisters (soccer teammate Maya and younger sister Adrienne) have been super supportive. Just in general, the whole Solanco community is awesome. This past season, it was awesome to see them rally around our team. I'm grateful to everyone who has made soccer so much fun for me."