Briar Woods’ soccer stars (L to R) McKayla Beal, Lauren Kelly, and Rayven Conner, joined by head coach Ann Vierkorn, signed their National Letters of Intent to compete at the collegiate level. (Photo © Aaron Wyche/Viva Loudoun)
Ashburn, VA (Feb. 12, 2016) – On Wednesday, Feb. 3rd, three senior standouts from the Briar Wood’s girls soccer team signed their National Letters of Intent (NLI) to play soccer at the collegiate level beginning the 2016/2017 academic school year.
From the desk of head soccer coach Ann Vierkorn:
McKayla Beal, Virginia Military Institute
McKayla will be taking the field as a Kangaroo for the Virginia Military Institute in the Fall of 2016. She plans to major in International Studies and Political Science. She is not the type to shy away from structure and discipline. In fact that is the very reason she chose VMI. McKayla intends to serve her country in the Army after graduation.
McKayla, thank you in advance, for your willingness to step up and be an active participant in preserving the freedom we get to experience on a daily basis.
For those of you who don’t know McKayla she is fighting her way back from an ACL tear that occurred during an early season game last year. As you can imagine, the recovery process is quite challenging both physically and mentally. That said, it’s quite impressive and a testament to your ability and character when a school shows interest despite the injury.
At the time of the injury last spring McKayla was coming into her own. Her presence was felt on the field both defensively and offensively. Her physicality was tough to match and her opponent often struggled to keep pace with her.
After tearing her ACL she was forced to sit and watch. I told her she had two choices. She could either use the opportunity to study the game, be a leader off the field, and mentally prepare herself for when her day would come again, or she could waste her time feeling bad for herself and become disengaged.
It thrills me to report that she chose option one and this season, Miss Future Military Leader will be taking the field to represent Briar Woods High School.
All I can say is Broad Run, Stone Bridge, Tuscarora, Potomac Falls and all those other Fairfax schools better watch out because number 7 is on a mission and she has proved no obstacle is going to get in her way.
McKayla I’m so proud of you and the woman you’ve become. I know you’re going to kick some grass this spring and for years to come.
Lauren Kelly, University of Florida
Lauren will spend her next four years in Gainesville at the University of Florida where she plans to study Law.
Lauren has been an outstanding student athlete here at Briar Woods, ranking in the top 6% of her class. She has been a member of the National Honor Society both her Junior and Senior year. Florida’s balance of being competitive both academically and athletically inspired her to become a Gator.
If you don’t know Lauren I can assure you that she’s a tad bit competitive. Florida’s powerhouse squad has either won it’s division or finished with a top ten national ranking over the last decade. You can imagine how intimidating it would be to play for such a program, but not for Lauren.
One of the qualities I most admire about Lauren is her determination. She never entertains the thought that she can’t do something. And if she’s ever sent that message from another, it becomes a personal mission to make them eat their words.
Lauren must have been a warrior in a past life because when she’s on the field she is fierce. She doesn’t ask her teammates to do anything that she herself isn’t already doing and if her teammates aren’t doing their job, they will hear about it.
Lauren was an instrumental player when we won the 2014 Conference, Regional, and State Championships. She was recognized that season as All-State First Team as well as All-Met First Team as only a sophomore.
It excites me to have her again this season. She brings skill, experience, confidence, dedication, and determination to the team. All qualities that will contribute to another winning season for girls’ soccer at Briar Woods.
Rayven Conner, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Rayven Conner will be attending UMBC in the fall as a Retriever majoring in Biology. I wonder if she’ll retrieve a Championship for them the way she did for us in 2014.
I am thrilled that she will be playing for UMBC because from the first college visit she told me how much she loved it there. From the small campus feel, to the positive atmosphere on the team both on and off the field, she loved how the players and coaches seemed to really enjoy and support each other. Rayven shared also shared how UMBC head soccer coach Leslie Wray was very approachable and friendly and made her feel at ease right away.
One of the many things that I love about Rayven is both how humble she is and how much she enjoys playing soccer. She is a natural at the game and it shows. What I also love is her commitment to her teammates. Rayven doesn’t play for herself, she plays for her team.
The First All-State, Team Captain, and Most Valuable Player was instrumental in helping the 2014 team win a State Championship. Twenty minutes into the first half we were down 1-0. Their center mid was killing us in the middle. Rayven goes in and within a few minutes the score is tied per an assist off a Conner free kick. Not long after we are winning 2-1 per a center-mid Conner goal.
Rayven did what she always does. She executed. She plays with everything she has for her team. She is a fierce, smart, and committed player who will be really difficult to let go of at the end of this season. UMBC is getting one heck of a player in Rayven Conner.