Wildecats' Brelsford has defense covered


Most high school athletes probably would hate having a parent cover their teams as a sports reporter.

Not Wilde Lake senior Carrie Brelsford, whose mother, Karen Brelsford, is assistant sports editor at The Columbia Flier.

"It's good because she knows a lot about sports," said Carrie, the stopper for the Wildecats soccer team. "When I talk about other teams, she knows more about them than I do. She can tell me about them."

But neither Carrie nor the Wildecats get extra coverage in The Flier, and that is just fine with Carrie.

"I wouldn't want her to write about me. If she did, I would feel bad, because people would be like, 'Oh, well your mom wrote the story.' All moms say good things about their kids," she said.

For Karen Brelsford, the situation is a bit more complicated. Walking the fine line between caring parent and objective reporter can be tricky.

"She makes it hard for me to cover her fairly," said Brelsford, a Flier reporter since before Carrie was born. "If she were a really, really outstanding player like a Kacy Williams, I couldn't avoid covering her. If she were a bench warmer, it would be very easy because I wouldn't have to cover her.

"But she is just a very good player in a county that has lots and lots of very good players, so she makes it much more difficult for me to be unbiased."

After six seasons with the Columbia Chargers, three in the Olympic Development Program and four with the Wildecats' varsity, Brelsford has gained a reputation as a smart, skilled defender.

"She has a lot of confidence handling the ball especially near her own goal," said Centennial co-coach Kevin Flynn, who also coached the Chargers. "A lot of defenders don't feel very confident handling the ball back there. She didn't at first, but now she can take it out of the back herself and start the attack from there."

Wildecats coach Rick Wilson said Brelsford's ability to set the attack in motion probably has been her greatest improvement.

"She's become more offensive minded," said Wilson. "When Carrie came in, she was more defensive, like, 'Let me play my half of the field and leave me alone.' Now, she's more into supporting the offense."

Earlier this season, she scored a goal, the first of her high school career.

Her role in a veteran defense that includes senior backs Anne Tiburzi and Siobhan Hayes and junior sweeper Katie Douglas has helped the ninth-ranked Wildecats finish 8-3-1 against one of the toughest schedules around. Their only losses came to No. 1 McDonogh, No. 4 Fallston and No. 5 Centennial, the last two in overtime.

As the Wildecats prepare for their first regional playoff game against Oakland Mills Wednesday at Hammond at 3 p.m., Brelford's offensive support could be even more critical with some key midfielders suffering from illness or injury.

Although they won the county title last year, the Wildecats have not won their region in three years. They soon will see if their schedule toughened them enough to pull through.

"I think it helped to have some setbacks and realize we're not as good as we think we are. Now we know we're not like a McDonogh. We definitely learned from that and now we're better," said Brelsford, who plays for the Glyndon United Under-19 club team.

She's also hoping to play her best to impress college coaches, having decided only in the past year that she wants to play college soccer. A 3.68 student ranked 24th in her class, Brelsford has received letters from a few smaller Division I schools as well as many Division II and III programs.

"Because I played on an older team last year and everyone was talking about college, and since mostly all of the people on my team last year went to good colleges, it really got me thinking about college," she said. "Since last year, I've been thinking I want to keep playing."

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