By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Editor
Fairfax (June 15, 2014) – For the first time in program history, the Briar Woods High School girls soccer time hoisted a state championship trophy over their heads after the Falcons defeated the Stone Bridge High School Bulldogs, 2-1, on June 15 in the VHSL 5A state title game at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax.
“I couldn’t be more proud. It’s everything that we wanted, and it’s everything that we worked for.” Briar Woods head coach Ann Vierkorn said. “I just try to soak in this moment. I’m really happy for them. They deserve it because they worked for it. And I’m just so happy that it happened for them.”
Last spring, the Falcons made their name heard around the state when they took a trip to the VHSL AA state championship where they fell to Woodgrove High School. This spring, senior Emma Quirk was not going to let another shot at a state title slip through their hands and knotted the score at 1-1 with a header in the 19th minute.
“This is a new team mentally. We were worried about our losses [in personnel] last year and we knew we had to compensate for it because this was our year. We got down, and last year we let that get to us mentally. This time, I turned around to the team and said ‘Guys, relax, we are fine. We have come back multiple times before.’ And we did it today, and it’s awesome. This team is heart.”
The Falcons initially got down in the 9th minute when Stone Bridge freshman Emily Fox found the back of the net to give the Bulldogs an early 1-0 lead. But Quirk’s answer ten minutes later, swung the momentum Briar Woods’ way.
Four minutes after Quirk’s game tying goal, Briar Woods sophomore Rayven Conner struck from 30 yards out to give the Falcons’ defense all the cushion they’d need to secure the victory.
“We just tried to take the emotion out of it and execute. We had discussed before the game that our group defending was going to make the difference,” Vierkorn said. “We just tried to stay calm and bring them back to what our game plan was – nobody has to be a superstar, everybody just has to do their job, and that’s just cover each other the whole time out on the field. Everyone needed to put in their part in order to win. I couldn’t be more proud of them because that’s exactly what they did. They worked together the whole time.”
Not only have did the Falcons work together in the state championship, the Briar Woods seniors – including Tori Riopelle, Alexis Haycraft, McKensey Ziegler, Elizabeth Reid, Carly Melkus, Mia Venkat, Kira Warner and Quirk – culminated their four years of working together with a state championship.
“[The seniors] are the foundation of this program. They’re the reason this program turned around,” Vierkorn said. “Last year we weren’t even on the radar. They forced everyone to respect them.”
While the girls soccer programs around the state have taken note to respect the Falcons, the Briar Woods team noted that Stone Bridge, too, deserves that amount of respect.
“They are a great team,” Quirk said. “Listening to their parents up there, so passionate about it, and it’s a battle of everything: a mental and physical challenge. It really comes down to who gets that lucky advantage. But in the end, these are our teammates on club, our friends socially, and you have to respect them.”
Stone Bridge head coach Joan Windows applauded the Briar Woods’ effort, but acknowledged her team left it all on the field.
“I’m definitely proud of the girls,” Windows said. “I’m proud of where they came from and where they ended up, and we’ll just pick this up from right here next season and have another good season – a better season.”
A loss in a state championship is hard for anyone, and while Windows copes with the loss this spring, Vierkorn noted it was nice to come out victorious.
“We knew what it felt like to be on the other side of this. It feels good to come out on the other end,” Vierkorn said. “I have a lot of girls who have helped get the program where it is. They just wanted it with everything they had. When you play with hearts, good things happen.”
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently a sophomore at Syracuse University. Follow Owen on Twitter (@BigO_Gotimer) for up-to-date college signings and news. Contact us if you want Owen to do an article on the college commitment of your favorite local athlete or a story on a Loudoun County graduate playing in college!