“All of the hours of hard work and dedication and everything I have given up have all paid off,” the 5-foot-6 Kaplan said. “My parents made sure I had every opportunity to improve as a soccer player.”
Kaplan will continue to work on improving her game before she makes the nearly 250-mile trek down to southwestern Virginia in the summer of 2016 noting one reason she chose Radford was because it was close to Virginia Tech where her brother Brady is currently a first-year student.
“First and foremost, the coaches see me as someone who can make a difference in their program. It’s a beautiful school, and it’s in state so my parents can come to my games,” Kaplan said. “Ultimately, I was given the opportunity to play Division I soccer: something that I have wished for ever since I started playing.”
The Division I Highlanders finished their 2014 season 7-10-2 including a 4-5-1 mark in the Big South Conference. Head coach Ben Sohrabi – who should enter his 20th season at the helm of the Radford program in 2016 – led Briar Woods High School graduate McKensey Ziegler and the rest of the Highlanders to the Big South Conference tournament before falling to top-seeded Liberty, 2-0, on Nov. 2 in the conference quarterfinals.
“I am known for my communication on my club team,” said Kaplan who will play goalkeeper for Radford. “Coaches have told me that my organization of my defense on the field is impressive. I hope to help the Highlanders by my leadership on the field.”
Since her freshman year at Tuscarora, Kaplan has stepped up to the plate to help the Huskies, utilizing her communication and organization skills.
In 2014, Kaplan helped head coach Nicole Brower and her Husky teammates to a 14-4-3 season before losing, 1-0, to eventual VHSL 5A state runner up Stone Bridge High School in the 5A North region semifinals on June 4.
“I think our team will do everything we can to get the state ring in honor of our late coach and PE teacher Adam Fortune,” said Kaplan who plays club soccer for Loudoun 98 Red. “I think we have a good chance this year, and I look forward to playing on Fortune Field.”
Kaplan will get the chance to live out her dream of playing collegiate soccer after over a decade of waiting. Kaplan’s dad bought her her first soccer jersey when she was just five years old, and she has played soccer ever since.
“It was Mia Hamm’s. I remember hearing her speak on TV and her saying ‘You must love the game completely. You have to be okay with sacrificing everything and love everything that will come with it: the annoying refs, the close games, everything,’” Kaplan said. “Whenever I lose a close game or am upset about an outcome, I remember that. I always keep it in mind when I doubt myself. I love the game completely.”
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently in his senior year at Syracuse University. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.