Lake Braddock's Senior Talent Show

By Preston Williams
Thursday, April 19, 2007

Opposing girls' soccer coaches were not buying Lake Braddock Coach Liz Pike's assessment of her team this preseason.

"How do you guys look?" they'd ask.

"Well, you know, it's early," Pike would reply.

"Oh, give me a break."

That skepticism seemed warranted. The Bruins have 11 seniors. Ten will play in college next season, eight for Division I programs. The 11th senior (forward Emily Barry) turned down a scholarship offer to concentrate on academics elsewhere.

In an area of about 300 high schools, each competing in at least 10 sports, these Bruins are unique. There are many senior-dominated teams, but a collection of talent that produces this many college scholarships is almost unheard of. If half the members rid their wardrobes of college hoodies, T-shirts and caps, they could stock a campus bookstore.

"If you look around, there's talent all over the place," defender and team captain Stephanie Hylton (Virginia Tech) said at practice last week. "So it's a pretty cool thing to be a part of."

"We've always been tight and knew coming up that our [graduation] year was going to be big," said midfielder Mary Carter Jacocks (William & Mary).

But will the sum of talented seniors equal the parts? Is a team teeming with college signees who won a state championship last year hungry enough to strive for another one? Will they accept their roles?

If "senior-itis" breaks out, with this many 12th-graders, should the Centers for Disease Control be alerted?

The verdict is not in yet. Lake Braddock is 4-1-1 overall, 2-0 in the Patriot District -- not including Tuesday's match, which hadn't been played at press time.

Pike, in her seventh year coaching at her alma mater, certainly isn't complaining about the embarrassment of riches. But playing on a team such as this and coaching a team such as this present unique challenges, and that's why the "well, you know, it's early" comment was not necessarily coach-speak.

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