'D'-Fiant O'Bryant

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JF fullback named first team All-State soccer

By Mike Forster


Four local soccer lasses were named to the All-State soccer team for the spring season.

Jefferson Forest's Jessica O'Bryant led the parade.  The just-graduated O'Bryant made the first team as a defender, a fitting ending to a superb career.

O'Bryant started on the back line all four years at Jefferson Forest.  She was a critical component of a program that made runs into the State playoffs the last four seasons and that had captured the Region III title in three of those years.  This year, she played nearly every minute of every game, leaving the field only a single time.

A team captain, O'Bryant anchored a defense that posted 10 shutouts.  The Lady Cav defense was so tough that the loss that eliminated the team from State title contention was a 1-0 affair at the hands of high-flying Blacksburg.

"She has been a big part of our defensive success," said JF Head Coach Stan Golon.  "Whenever anything broke down, Jessica was there to clean it up."

"I'm just glad I can represent my team by being named," said O'Bryant about the honor.

O'Bryant, who Golon called "One of the smoothest I've ever coached," will head to Longwood University in the fall, where she hopes to walk-on.

Other local booters received recognition at the state level.

In particular, three lady standouts were noted for their offensive acumen.  Better yet, the trio are slated to return for another go next year, as all are now rising seniors.

Cassidy Ratliff, Jefferson Forest's top offensive threat, was named to the second team of the All-State squad as a forward.

Ratliff could be found at the tip of the JF charge.  Using a mix of speed and toughness, she led her team in both points and game-winning goals.

"Defenses have to be wary of her," said Golon.  "They have to adjust to her speed and her shot...It's got rocket fuel."

Liberty's Laura Garbarini and Staunton River's Taylor Tester earned honorable mention to the State team as forwards.

Garbarini was a veritable scoring machine for the Lady Minutemen.  Her timely scoring strikes helped earn Liberty a trip to the Region III tourney and a Seminole District Player of the Year award for herself.

Tester, the very definition of a striker, set VHSL records for scoring:  consecutive games (21) and goals in a single game (9).

On the boys' side, things were a bit more sparse.

Jefferson Forest's David Heimer was the only county soccer player to receive state recognition, as he was named honorable mention.

Heimer, a midfielder, transferred to Jefferson Forest after three years in the San Diego area.

He brought much-needed experience to a team that lost 17 players to graduation from last year's State semifinalist.

This year, JF finished second in the Seminole and second in Region III to E.C. Glass.