State Gazette Girls Soccer Offensive Player of the Year: Dyersburg Lady Trojan Zainab Manneh

Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Dyersburg Lady Trojan Zainab Manneh


With a season of 50-plus goals to wrap up a record-setting high school career with the Lady Trojans on the pitch, Dyersburg senior Zainab Manneh has been named the State Gazette Girls Soccer Offensive Player of the Year for this past high school season.

Manneh’s 2023 mark of 52 goals broke the school record which she had already previously set with 45 during her junior year. Her senior-year total gave her 164 goals for her career, good for eighth place all-time in the TSSAA record books. It should be noted, Manneh also ranks second among players who played exclusively in the era where the mercy rule was in play. Manneh also ranks fourth in goals per game for her career (1.98) and is one of two Lady Trojans to score eight goals in a single game. Her eight-goal performance on Oct. 17, 2023 in the Lady Trojans’ Region 7AA Semifinal win over Haywood.

Dyersburg Head Coach Musa Manneh admitted he was pretty sure Zainab didn’t have an easy career playing under her father for four years.

“This girl’s just been gifted naturally with her physical attributes and to combine that with her having a touch on the ball its a lethal combination for girls soccer,” Manneh explained. “Somebody that fast and being able to control the ball.

“Usually you’ll see girls really fast but their ball control is not really there. Or, you’ll have girls that can really play ball, but they are not as fast. This girl had both so she posed a problem for four years straight.”

This also allowed Zainab to move both ways going side-to-side.

“It’s stuff like that,” Manneh said. “She’s one of those you can’t replace.”

Manneh also reached the TSSAA State Track Meet in her final two seasons, the only two in which she took part in track.

“To go to the sport of track for just two years and still matter, it’s amazing to me,” the elder Manneh explained. “It was her natural athletic ability.

“But, in the girls’ (soccer) game, that’s a huge advantage. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a very good soccer player. She’s played from seven years old and she’s 17 now. That’s ten years of playing year in and year out. When girls soccer season in high school is over, she’s playing travel ball. We’ve traveled all over.”

The Dyersburg head coach agreed this created a good mix of natural ability and hard work.

“She’s played against girls from all over our region,” Coach Manneh explained. “All the way to Texas. She basically has a taste for what it takes to be successful in the game of soccer.”

Even as a four-year starter who set records through her career in black and gold, Manneh continued to improve even during her final high school season. And it was, scary enough for the Lady Trojan opponents, it was in that scoring ability.

“Her freshman year, I think she scored 27 goals,” the Dyersburg head coach recalled. “And then she scored in her 30s during her sophomore year.

“Then her junior year she scored 45. But then to come back and, in a single season, score 50 goals – it’s amazing. Every year that she played, she was increasing her goal tally. And, it was four years straight of a goal increase. That’s a very hard thing to do.”

Manneh alluded to “sophomore slumps” in other sports and admitted it is hard to come back after a good season. Add into this other teams knew about her from the start.

“Teams were game planning for her,” Manneh said. “But, we played in games where we were mercy-ruled and they couldn’t keep her out.

“We played against Houston High School. She scored two goals on them. We know Houston is one of the best teams in the nation, let alone the state. But, the thing is, if you push up and there is space, you can get by. That’s how quick she is.”

But, it was her ability to finish on these goals which stood out.

“Her finishing ability is one of the things that got better this senior year,” Manneh added.

Scoring is a legacy which Manneh leaves on the Lady Trojan program as she heads to the college level at Bethel.

“It’s goals per game, that ratio, she blows out of the water,” Dyersburg’s head coach said. “Just the number of goals scored in a season – blows that out of the water.

“It’s a legacy of scoring goals and record setting. What do you say? It’s one that placed herself in the record books for the state. How do you replace someone like that? It’s very, very difficult.”

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