By Matt Szabo
11:16 PM PDT, June 19, 2013
Watch Brianna Westrup play, and she is passionate on the pitch in soccer. She is not afraid to fire up her teammates, or let the referee know what she thinks of a borderline call.
The Corona del Mar High sophomore is just passionate about the sport, period.
"I've been playing soccer since I could walk," Westrup said. "I watch it all the time, I play it all the time. I just love it."
Westrup recently ensured she'll be playing the sport when her time at CdM is done, too. She has verbally committed to play at the University of Virginia.
"I really liked the feeling back there," Westrup said of the Cavaliers, who won the Atlantic Coast Conference title last fall and advanced to the NCAA round of 16. "Everything just felt right ... the coaches were amazing and the girls were really nice and welcoming."
Westrup, a defender, has not been seen on the field much for CdM. She played water polo in her freshman year. This past year, she played soccer, immediately jumping in as the starting center back. But she suffered a deep knee contusion during the Pacific Coast League opener at Northwood, on a tough play where she appeared to be kicked in the back of the knee.
Westrup made it back to play in CdM's final game, a second-round CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoff loss to Esperanza. She has returned at 100% for the club season.
"I didn't have to miss any club games because of my knee or anything," she said. "Obviously, I was bummed out I didn't get to play the year with the seniors. But since all of the college [recruitment] stuff happens in the club world, that was probably the best time [the injury] could have happened, if it had to happen. [CdM Coach Bryan Middleton] was really supportive and told me not to push it."
Westrup appears to be a good get for Virginia. She is ranked No. 59 nationally in the class of 2015 by TopDrawerSoccer.com, and No. 9 in Southern California.
She leaves Thursday for Aurora, Colo., where she will be playing club soccer for the Newport Beach-based Slammers FC this weekend in the opening round of the Elite Clubs National League playoffs. The goal of the Slammers under-16 girls, coached by CdM boys' coach George Larsen, is to win their four-team group and make it to ECNL finals in Virginia starting July 10.
Westrup, who has above a 4.0 grade-point average at CdM, certainly is a dedicated soccer player. She also has twice won national titles in "futsal," an indoor, five-on-five version of the sport. She said she and a group consisting mainly of her Slammers teammates recently won futsal regionals again in San Diego, qualifying for the U.S. Futsal National Championship in Long Beach next month.
Whatever she is playing, she is known for that passion. It should serve her well at Virginia.
"I try to be as much of a leader as possible," Westrup said. "For me, the priority is to protect my teammates."