Briar Woods’ Lauren Kelly, Oakton’s Tess Sapone commit to Florida for women’s soccer

Of the six colleges that Tess Sapone visited during the past couple of months, the Oakton sophomore midfielder got the best feeling during her time spent at Florida — and not just because of the sunny weather.

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For Sapone, having a supportive leader in Gators Coach Becky Burleigh, a competitive program and a strong sense of school spirit played major roles in her ultimate college choice. And when Sapone committed to Florida in late April, she received more incentive when FC Virginia club soccer teammate and Briar Woods sophomore defender Lauren Kelly also pledged to play for the Gators.

“A couple days after I committed, Lauren told me she really liked Florida, too, and was looking there,” said Sapone, who also visited Boston, Boston College, Connecticut, Penn and Villanova. “It’ll be exciting to make the transition to college with someone I’ve played with and know.”

Briar Woods sophomore defender Lauren Kelly (11) and Oakton sophomore Tess Sapone have committed to play soccer at Florida (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post).
Briar Woods sophomore defender Lauren Kelly (11) and Oakton sophomore Tess Sapone have committed to play soccer at Florida (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post).

In Kelly, the Gators will have a sound, aggressive defender who possesses strong speed and foot skills. With Kelly as one of their anchors, Briar Woods’ defense has only allowed 10 goals through 13 games and captured the Virginia Conference 14 regular season championship. Last season, Kelly played significant minutes as a freshman during the Falcons’ run to the AA state title game.

After living in Tampa for six years before moving to Virginia in the seventh grade, Kelly developed an affinity for the Gators, making her decision among interest from Georgetown, William and Mary and Texas a rather easy one.

“I knew I wanted to be a Gator and when I went to visit over spring break, I just fell in love with the school and campus and coaches,” Kelly said. “The coaches said they recruit players who can make an impact right away, so I’m really excited to get there and play in a couple years.”

Sapone also has developed into an impact player during her two seasons at Oakton. The midfielder scored five goals for the Cougars, which tied for tops on the team, and displayed an attacking mentality on offense while using her high motor to make plays all over the field.

NUMBER CRUNCH: 48
Age of former longtime Theodore Roosevelt football coach and athletic director Daryl Tilghman, who died from an apparent heart attack Thursday morning. Tilghman was a stalwart on the D.C. sports scene as a coach, mentor and friend to many and will truly be missed.

BREAKFAST LINKS
-John Laufer scored the lone goal to lift Osbourn Park’s boys’ soccer team to a 1-0 win against Battlefield in the Conference 8 title game. Meanwhile, the Battlefield girls’ downed Osbourn Park, 3-1, behind Colleen Gawkins’s goal and assist to win a Conference 8 championship.

-Georgetown Day’s boys and Wilson’s girls captured the crowns at the DCSAA outdoor track and field championships.

-Chase Miller netted the game-winning goal in the final seconds as Loudoun Valley rallied to defeat Woodgrove, 9-8, in the Dulles Group boys’ lacrosse tournament championship.

-After elbow surgery and seeing Towson’s baseball program fold, former Broad Run ace pitcher Taylor Clarke is making his mark at the College of Charleston.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
Maryland 4A baseball state championship, 7:30 p.m. (at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen)
Sherwood (15-7) and Chesapeake (22-2) will face off in a rematch of the 2010 title game, which was won by Sherwood. The Warriors are led by All-Met Matt Chanin, who threw a no-hitter in the semifinals, while Chesapeake is paced by Austin Weiss and Kaleb Clayville.

Brandon Parker is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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