From The Washington Post | By Kyle Melnick on October 29, 2022
After a soccer showcase in Nashville in February 2021, a college coach approached Peyton Bernard about playing for his program. Peyton’s interest dwindled a few minutes into the conversation, when the coach said he wasn’t interested in recruiting a defender, the position Peyton’s twin sister, Drew, plays.
“So I can send something to you,” the coach told Peyton as they concluded their conversation.
“You don’t need to send it to me,” Peyton responded. She ruled the program out of her college choices. Instead, they will attend the University of Maryland together.
Peyton and Drew Bernard, seniors for Good Counsel, have been inseparable their entire lives. They have played for the same teams and developed similar hobbies. They insisted on continuing their bond next year with the Terrapins.
First, they will lead Good Counsel (13-4) into the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference postseason Tuesday. The Olney private school is seeking to win its third championship in the past four seasons and to avenge its loss in last year’s final.
Though Drew was born a minute before Peyton on Oct. 22, 2004, at Washington Adventist Hospital, Drew often mimicked Peyton. When Peyton began watching “SpongeBob SquarePants,” Drew joined her. When Peyton acquired a corny sense of humor, Drew did, too. And after Peyton began playing soccer at age 5, Drew registered for her team the following year.
One of the first times they were separated came when they were 7. When Peyton left for a sleepover with their cousin and Drew stayed at their Rockville home, Drew sobbed.
On their soccer teams, the Bernards picked numbers next to each other’s. On their Montgomery Soccer Inc. team, Orange Crush, Drew wore No. 9 and Peyton No. 10. In the Potomac Soccer Association, Drew was No. 23, Peyton No. 24. For the Bethesda Soccer Club, Drew picked No. 47, Peyton No. 48.
Their father, Desi, said coaches and parents often told him his daughters wouldn’t play for the same competitive teams because of their talent gap. Coaches believed Peyton was more skilled than Drew, who didn’t want to be left behind.
“For every hour that Peyton trains, you have to do an hour and a half,” Desi told Drew. “And you’ll catch up.”
Drew trained in her spare time against a wall in her basement, and the Bernards have always played for the same clubs. They have differentiated themselves on the field. Peyton is one of the D.C. area’s most dynamic forwards; Drew is a shutdown defender with potent vision.
Once, when the Bernards played rock-paper-scissors growing up, they selected the same option about 20 consecutive times until they settled the contest after a few minutes. In quiet rooms, they often will glance at each other and laugh.
Their connection has transitioned onto the field. When the sisters began playing competitive soccer, Drew often passed the ball downfield to Peyton without looking. In a game for Bethesda in June 2021, Drew bypassed the dozen players between her and Peyton by rocketing the ball 30 yards toward the end line, where Peyton gathered the ball and scored.
When Peyton takes corner kicks, Drew can gauge where she should stand for the ball by viewing Peyton’s eyes. They have trained together since they were children, so they understand each other’s tendencies.
“We have twin telepathy,” Peyton said.
During a showcase for Bethesda in 2018 in Sanford, Fla., an opponent tackled Peyton. Drew’s face grew tense, and when the opponent reached Peyton downfield a few seconds later, Drew tackled her.
Jim Bruno, who has coached Good Counsel since 1988, has witnessed talented sisters. Unlike previous duos, the Bernards don’t argue. Outside of soccer, they share a white Land Rover, eat lunch at the same table every afternoon and get their nails and hair done together.
“We always got along really well,” Drew said. “People actually ask us all the time if we argue or if we fight, like physically. And the answer is always no.”
“I mean,” Peyton continued, “we have our little arguments.”
“Like small, petty arguments,” Drew followed.
“Yeah,” Peyton said. “But other than that, it’s really nothing.”
“Yeah,” Drew concluded. “We have a really good relationship.”
In February, the Bernards committed to Maryland, where they plan to room together and study real estate development. After games growing up, they asked their father to drive them around elegant houses. They hope someday to own a real estate brokerage together.
“We’ve always had our minds set on going to the same college,” Drew said. “Being as close as we are, it would be really difficult to play individually, and not being able to see each other every single day would be really hard.”
“It would feel definitely weird,” Peyton followed. “We’ve spent our entire lives together. We play the same sport on the same teams; we’ve gone to the same schools; we have the same friends. It would feel weird for us to not go to the same school.”
Last year was the lone time the Bernards were separated on the field. Drew suffered a left ankle injury early in the season. Peyton would roll ice on Drew’s ankle at night, and on the field she earned WCAC player of the year honors. While Drew returned for the playoffs, the Falcons suffered their lone loss, 1-0, against St. John’s in the WCAC final.
Coaches sometimes confuse the Bernards on the field. They wear socks above their knees and sport their highlighted black hair in buns. Peyton aspires to score 25 goals this season, and Drew made her objective to help Peyton achieve her mission.
One of Peyton’s 19 goals this season came in double overtime against Notre Dame Preparatory on Oct. 17. From the other side of the field in Towson, Drew saw Peyton sprint toward the goal and use her arm to gain position against her defender. From that sequence, Drew knew Peyton would release a strong shot, which settled into the net for the game-winner.
While Peyton usually receives the spotlight, Drew felt the exhilaration of scoring in Good Counsel’s win over Holy Cross on Oct. 25.
“Drew,” Peyton instructed at halftime in Kensington, “you just need to dribble and take a touch past this girl and shoot it.”
Drew followed Peyton’s advice with about 20 minutes remaining, striking the ball into the top left corner of the net. Peyton, with her team’s victory secured, was the first player to jump off the bench, run to the edge of the sideline and cheer.
“You’ve witnessed hardships, ups and downs,” Peyton said. “When you’re struggling in a certain game or having a bad game, you witness that. So when you see that we’re both up, it just makes you just feel so much better — like you’re on top of the world.”