Maryland women’s soccer team has 7 sibling groups

BRUNSWICK, Md. — When Brunswick senior Jada Powell started playing football years ago, she was following quite a few footsteps.

Not only did both of his parents play sports, but his older brother, Jackson, and older sister, Jordan, were also football players.

Said Powell: “It’s kind of like the family thing to do.”

That same sentiment could be the motto for Brunswick women’s soccer this year, as the Railroaders have seven pairs of sisters in the program.

Four of those sibling pairs are on the varsity team: senior Atiya Jackson and rookie Laila Jackson; senior Jada Powell and sophomore Jacie Powell; senior Zoe Mourlas and junior Emma Mourlas; and second-grade fraternal twins Layke and Brylie Jensen.

Two sets are split between the varsity and the JV: senior Addison Fritz and freshman Ava Fritz; and senior Leah Cook and rookie Hannah Cook.

And sisters Lexy Partyka, a sophomore, and Jasmine Partyka, a freshman, are JV players.

Dismissing 10 seasoned seniors from a team that reached the Class 1A state championship game last season, Brunswick already had a full roster of players bound by the desire to get another shot at winning the Premier League crown. Program status. But with just four families filling nearly half of the college roster, the railroad workers have an added sense of closeness.

“It’s really great because we all have this special connection with each other on the team,” said Atiya Jackson. “And I feel like the whole team is connected just because we have literal ties that go home together.”

Brunswick coach Dara Demich can relate. She grew up playing in the same youth football teams with her twin brother, Drew. Even after Dara and Drew parted ways at the high school football level, powering the Brunswick girls’ and boys’ teams respectively, they still played on the same team in the offseason.

Now Dara Demich presides over a team full of siblings, which can create a special mark of competition in practices.

“Every once in a while you get a little more physical play when they go against each other, so it’s fun to watch in training,” the coach said. “Sometimes we match things up so you see them bring out the best in them a little bit more.”

Atiya Jackson admitted that she and her sister, Laila, push each other. The elder Jackson is a forward who ranked as Frederick County’s top scorer last season, finishing with 21 goals and seven assists. Although Laila can play in multiple positions, she is expected to focus on defense this season.

Thanks to their age differences, they were never teammates before this season.

“We’re on two different sides of the court, but I feel like we can work together as the season progresses,” said Atiya, who proudly watched Laila begin to carve out a place for herself with the Railroaders. “It’s nice to see her grow and improve as a player over the years.”

In last year’s 1A State Finals at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex, Laila sat in the stands on a cold, rainy night, watching her sister play in the 6-0 loss of Brunswick versus Fallston.

“She’s basically the reason I started playing football because she played it,” Laila said. “So I just played too.”

Likewise, Jada Powell followed the same path as her older siblings, Jordan and Jackson, who played for the Brunswick girls’ and boys’ football teams respectively. Heck, their dad, John, is the school girls’ JV football coach.

And now she’s teammate to her younger sister, Jacie. Both are central midfielders who can also play up top, and their similar traits are no coincidence.

“Watching her from JV definitely impacted my game,” Jacie said.

Jacie, Layke Jensen and Brylie Jensen were promoted to the varsity team during the Brunswick playoffs. All three even got some playing time.

“It was a really good experience with the seniors,” Brylie said. “They were really good teammates.”

Hearing Brylie’s comments before being asked about being a JV call-up last postseason, Layke said, “Kind of what she said.”

Layke will play up front, while Brylie will play primarily for a defense that is expected to include fellow team sister club members Leah Cook, Addison Fritz, Zoe Mourlas and Emma Mourlas.

“She usually tends to back off and stay back. She’s really good at attracting passing people (in midfield),” Layke said of her sister. “I really like running to get the ball back. I think that’s just my forte.

But no matter how far they are on the football pitch, they will retain a bond they have shared all their lives.

“I think it’s really good because if you go to a new team or a new place, you have someone you’re comfortable with and close to,” Brylie said. “It’s just nice to have my best friend living in the same house.”

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