Briana Moreno returned to the Lynn area Saturday as a full-fledged collegiate athlete, playing a regular role on the front line for the Worcester State women’s soccer team.
Moreno, a 2012 graduate of Lynn English High School, saw action as a forward for the Lady Lancers who tied Salem State 2-2 after two scoreless 10-minute overtimes at Alumni Field.
Moreno said she is happy to be back on the field after being sidelined for two weeks due to a pulled quadricep injury in her right leg. She originally sustained the injury in the pre-season.
“It was a little tough in the beginning because I had an injury but I’ve been trying to get my head back in the game and practicing hard to get playing time,” said Moreno.
Moreno said the biggest adjustment has been the speed of the game.
“College soccer has a way faster pace,” said Moreno. “Everybody is at a high level and it’s very competitive.”
Moreno is one of several high school All-Star players from Massachusetts on the WSC roster. Starting goalkeeper Mia Koutoulas played at Danvers High last year while Kaleigh Evans, a sophomore from Saugus High, is another area player.
Moreno said the team practices two hours a day and she participated in a weigh training program in the pre-season. She is considering a major in Occupational Therapy.
Moreno played varsity soccer in coach Ed McNeil’s program at English. As she felt more confident in her game in each season and became All-Star caliber, she began to think about continuing her soccer career in college.
WSC coach Kevin Cumberbatch said Moreno’s skills caught the attention of the coaching staff and she was invited to the school on a recruiting trip.
“We had talked on the phone and she came to our campus on a recruiting trip,” said Cumberbatch. “We saw her play so we knew the excellent skills she had.
Moreno’s work ethic and positive attitude have impressed the coach.
“She has done a good job working herself back after the injury and she’s now getting a lot of minutes on the front line and in midfield.” said Cumberbatch. “She’s a versatile player which helps us a lot.”
Cumberbatch said the 5-foot-8-inch freshman has made a good adjustment to the faster college game.
“Briana is diligently working to adjust to everything and doing everything we ask of her,” said Cumberbatch. “She’s a great kid and has the respect of all of her teammates.”
Moreno’s parents, Eric and Diane Moreno, were on hand for their daughter’s game Saturday.
“They’re a great support system and when I was down about my injury they always had my back and were sending me inspirational quotes,” said Moreno. “I’m really close with my parents so it was hard moving away to live at college.”
Reflecting on her development as a student and athlete at Lynn English, Moreno said, “I had outstanding teachers who prepared me well for college. My soccer coach was a great coach who really motivated all of his players.”
Worcester State is 5-6-1 overall but occupies second place in the MASCAC with a 3-1 record. The Lady Lancers will have to win the conference tournament in order to qualify for the NCAA Division 3 Tournament.