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As College Beckons, Curtain Falls On Harris Sisters' Act

July 15, 2016
It doesn't take long to figure out why Bri Harris plays lacrosse and soccer.

Harris, who just graduated from Broadneck High School in Anne Arundel County, comes from a sports family. Her father, Rob, is Broadneck's head football coach. Her mother, Sarah, coached Harris in lacrosse when she was younger and like her daughter, excelled in both lacrosse and soccer at Broadneck. Her grandmother, Julie Scheide, runs marathons. 

Bri Harris has continued the family tradition. She closed out her distinguished athletic career at Broadneck by scoring 65 goals and chipping in 38 assists as a senior on the lacrosse field for the Bruins. Harris also had 80 draw controls and caused 25 turnovers.

"She's extremely athletic. Her raw athleticism is one of the biggest things she brings," Broadneck girls' lacrosse head coach Katy Kelly said. "She's a smart player and highly competitive. When she's on the field, she'll give it her all at all times."

A 5-foot-8 lightning-quick midfielder, Bri Harris was named the Anne Arundel County Player of the Year by the Capital Gazette, and made first team All-Metro for The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post. Bri Harris also played for the South team at the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Game July 2 at Towson University. 

She hasn't continued her family tradition on her own, though. Her twin sister, Kayla, was also a standout in lacrosse and soccer at Broadneck. Both will play lacrosse next year at the collegiate level -- Bri for the University of Florida and Kayla for Navy.

"Having a twin sister who is litterally [with] me in every sport really brings competitiveness to the table. We're competitive about everything; it's a little crazy," Bri Harris said. "Growing up, it was always about seeing who could one up each other, but in a good way."

Early on, it was obvious to the twins' parents that the two were going to be good athletes. For Rob Harris, it happened as early as the girls' first rec soccer game at the age of 4.

"Little kid soccer is a mess. Everyone comes together in a cluster around the ball," Rob Harris said. "The first time the girls played, the cluster would come together, and then either Bri or Kayla would burst out and score a goal. Bri finished with eight goals, and Kayla had five. Their team scored 13 goals and they had all of them."

As the two got older, their roles began to change in both sports. Bri continued to excel on offense, while Kayla thrived on defense.

Having someone their age against whom they could practice routinely helped the Harris girls continue to progress as players. The two would regularly practice both sports against each other, and tell the other what they needed to work on.

"Having her different perspective definitely gave me an advantage. I tried to help her out with that stuff, too," Bri Harris said. "It was good to have two different perspectives for us, and we would always work together."

It also helped to have that sister dynamic when the Harris twins were playing in big games for the Bruins as well.

"I can take Bri aside during games and get on her about needing to step up because we're sisters. I can be a little blunter with her than I can be with other girls," Kayla Harris said. "It's good we can trust each other on the whole aspect of the field."

That trust has aided Bri Harris in becoming someone who has a habit of delivering big performances in the biggest games.

This past fall, Broadneck reached the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletics Association 4A state finals for soccer against Leonardtown High. It had been a frustrating season for Bri Harris because she had a nagging foot injury for a few weeks that hadn't allowed her to play to her full potential.

In a wild game that saw both teams' goalies pull off spectacular saves, it was Bri Harris who broke through and scored the lone goal, giving Broadneck a 1-0 victory. The moment came in overtime, when Broadneck sprung a counterattack after a free kick by Leonardtown. Bri Harris latched onto a pass from Talia Gabarra, beat two defenders, and slotted the ball past the goalkeeper with a left-footed effort.

"Every five minutes there was a scoring chance it seemed like. It was heart pounding," Kayla Harris said. "The goal by Bri, if there was anyone who was going to do it, it would be her."

Bri Harris continued to be a go-to player for the Bruins during lacrosse season. She saved her best performances for Broadneck's archrival, Severna Park High, which is a perennial powerhouse in girls' lacrosse, having won a record 13 MPSSAA state titles.

In the two games the teams played this past season, Bri Harris netted 11 goals and recorded five assists. The teams played in the sectional finals of the MPSSAA 4A/3A lacrosse state playoffs, and Broadneck won in an upset, topping Severna Park, 12-11. Bri Harris led the way for the Bruins in the game with six goals and two assists.

"When you play easier games, sometimes you think you're just going to score three goals and that'll be it," Bri Harris said. "In those big games, you have to step up. That competitive side of me gets going. I like the pressure, because you can be yourself. It's a lot more fun."

Her fiery approach caught the eye of a lot of college programs, which led to Bri Harris being a highly sought-after recruit. At one point, she had 18 schools trying to convince her to join their programs.

She landed at Florida after a difficult period with another college. After cutting off contact with all schools but that one, Rob Harris thought it would be a good idea to send out a highlight reel showcasing his daughter's talents.

Florida was one of the schools who received the tape, and after seeing it, immediately set up a recruiting visit to try to convince Bri Harris to become a Gator.  

"It's my dream school; I'm so excited to go there," Bri Harris said. "Florida was real simple and just said they wanted me. It's real competitive lacrosse, warm and I love the sunshine. I can't wait."

The distance will make things tricky for the Harris family. The family expects to attend most games Kayla Harris plays at Navy but will also spend some time traveling to Gainesville.

There's also a chance the two sisters will play each other. Every fall, Navy hosts an offseason tournament. Last year was the first time Florida participated in the event, and the Gators played Navy. 

If that happens this year, it'd mark the first time Bri Harris and Kayla Harris would line up against each other, as opposed to being on the same team.    

"It would be really competitive, but bittersweet. It'd be cool to see us playing in a college game at the same time, but it would also be sad because that time of my life is over," Bri Harris said. "I'm extremely excited about my next chapter at Florida, but it's also a little bit sad that this chapter is over."

Issue 223: July 2016