Even before Caroline Kerns made her college commitment this year, her future place in the Atlantic Coast Conference soccer ranks was already all but assured.
The Broad Run junior forward is the daughter of a former N.C. State women’s soccer player and Kerns has grown up admiring or playing alongside several current Virginia Tech soccer players in Murielle Tiernan (Stone Bridge), Ellie Zoepfl (Broad Run) and Kimberley Anderson (O’Connell).
After garnering offers from Tennessee and North Carolina and rehabbing from a devastating knee injury that sidelined her as a sophomore, Kerns committed to play at Virginia Tech prior to her junior year. The talented athlete has shown that she belongs, picking up where she left off after a strong freshman campaign by netting six goals this season to lead the top-10-ranked Spartans.
Recruiting Insider chatted with Kerns about her commitment, her rehabilitation from injury and Broad Run’s goals this season.
Recruiting Insider: What factored into your decision to commit to Virginia Tech?
Caroline Kerns: I was always looking at the ACC because it’s been a strong conference for forever. And then seeing Virginia Tech make the final four this year, I was excited to be a part of a strong team like that and I thought it’d be a good fit for me in talking to the coaches and after visiting the campus.
RI: You hurt your knee and were forced to miss all of last season. What was that experience like?
CK: I tore my ACL, MCL and my meniscus, so it was pretty bad. I did it playing club soccer (with McLean ECNL). It was a rough time because I wanted to be out there playing and I was being recruited at the time, so I was wondering how my injury might affect that and if I’d be the same player when I returned. But I actually got my first offer from Tennessee when I was still injured and then UNC and Virginia Tech came soon after that. I was really excited and grateful.
RI: What helped you get back to full strength and how has it been since returning to Broad Run’s team this season?
CK: It was tough, but it made me stronger because when you rehab, you have to focus on things like having a good work ethic, being strong, learning what it means to practice fitness. So I think it prepared me to come back strong. The first few weeks it was a little intimidating but now it’s no problem and it’s great to be back out there.
RI: A number of local players are playing for Virginia Tech now and several are headed there after this season, like Chantilly’s Laila Gray and Good Counsel’s Paige Graham. Did that play a role in your decision and why do you think Tech has reeled in so many talented players from here?
Kerns: That did play a small role. I’ve known Murielle just about all my life and I’ve always looked up to her as a player. To see how she killed it as a freshman this year really inspired me and made me see how Virginia Tech can take talented players from this area and help them do well at the next level. It’s exciting to have so many players from this area go there and make an impact.
RI: With your mom playing in college, how has she helped in getting you to this point?
Kerns: She’s been great. She coaches soccer in the area and of course knows a lot about the game. She actually went to N.C. State, so that’s probably kind of why I didn’t end up going to UNC (laughs). That visit to Chapel Hill with Coach Anson Dorrance was kind of weird since they used to be rivals. But again, it’s great to have an opportunity and interest from a school like that.
RI: You’re only a junior, so are you glad to have your college decision out of the way?
Kerns: Yes, it’s so nice. Now I can sit back and not worry too much about the admissions process and just focus on getting our team back to the state championship. But it also makes me more excited and motivated to get to college and play, too.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 100
Years it took for Foxcroft to win its first state title. The girls’ lacrosse team punctuated its first undefeated season with a 18-13 win against Norfolk Collegiate in the VISAA Division II championship over the weekend.
— For the second straight game, McKensey Zeigler lifted Briar Woods girls’ soccer team by scoring a goal in the final minute, this time against Broad Run on Monday to secure a 1-0 win and the Conference 14 title for the Falcons.
— Bob Boyd has coached and cultivated many of the top softball players in Montgomery County despite battling cancer in recent years.
— O’Connell bounced back from a loss in the WCAC championship to win its third straight VISAA Division I softball title, beating Paul 3-1 over the weekend.
— Riverdale Baptist racked up 49 runs in five games over the weekend to win its third National Association of Christian Athletes baseball crown.
VIDEO FROM THE WEEKEND
In case you missed it over the weekend, a pair of Middletown High School seniors are hoping to pave the way for future bull riders in a newly-launched Maryland High School Rodeo Association. Read the story here.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
Maryland 4A boys’ lacrosse state final, 8 p.m.
Undefeated Howard will take on 2013 state runner-up South River in Tuesday’s lacrosse championship at UMBC in what should be a tightly contested match.