Horner is having successful career at Monmouth
The jump from high school to college is a difficult one. The path is even more demanding when students choose to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level.
Lauren Horner, a 2012 graduate of Northwestern Lehigh High School, is no different. Following a remarkable field hockey career with the Lady Tigers, she used her first season at Monmouth University as one to acclimate herself with the change in scenery, like all collegiate athletes.
A year ago, Horner was polishing her skills to cement a position switch to left back on the Hawks' defensive line.
This year, in her junior season at Monmouth, Horner is bringing it all together.
"You definitely get more comfortable as the years go on," Horner said. "Freshman year you kind of get the nerves out. Last year was more working on defensive skills, and adjusting from being a midfielder to a defender."
Horner has started all 16 games for the Hawks, who are currently 9-7 overall (2-1 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference). She recorded a combined 28 starts in her first two seasons as well, making her a consistent piece to the Hawks' defense ever since stepping foot on campus.
A nagging shin problem has given the former Lady Tiger problems in the past, but she used the offseason to gear up for another successful campaign.
"I had some problems with injuries, so I just wanted to be able to push through that, do as much as I can, and get on the field," Horner said. "We had a lot more freshman this year, so there was a lot more competition for spots. I just wanted to show that I can be on the field and help my team any way I can."
During her time at Northwestern, scoring goals was common for Horner. Following her first two seasons with the Hawks, she was left without a goal in 35 games played. She didn't even have a shot on goal.
But Horner realized that as a defender she wouldn't see many, if any, scoring opportunities throughout her career. And she was OK with that. But that one tally that had eluded her for 42 games came on September 26.
In a 4-3 overtime victory against Fairfield, Horner scored a goal in the second half that brought the Hawks back to a tie. For the junior defender, the goal's meaning went beyond just it being her inaugural collegiate score.
"I was actually playing a midfield position at the time," Horner said. "I was on the back post, and one of my teammates set me up with a great ball. I one-timed it into the goal. It was a cool experience because usually being on defense I don't really have the chance to shoot.
"We were just going back and forth, and that game actually went into overtime. It felt good to play a role in that game, and it wasn't just for nothing."
During her freshman year, the Hawks fell to Rider in the conference championship game when they played in the Northeast Conference. Fast forward to their second year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and the Hawks are looking to add a championship trophy to their collection.
"We want to win the last two games to qualify for the tournament first of all," Horner said. "We also want to be the conference champs, so we can host the tournament at our field. That's one of the incentives that we have right now."
The Hawks close out the MAAC schedule with games against Siena (Friday) and Bryant (Sunday). Both are home games for the team.
Coming from a Class AA program in Northwestern, playing Division I field hockey may seem like a stretch for some. But Horner's goal was to get to this level. It was always a dream of hers. Now she's living it.
"I think this is definitely a goal that I set for myself in high school," Horner said. "We were a good team, but we never really made it into state playoffs or anything like that. We were just a small school playing against other small schools.
"Now, we travel a lot, and we're playing against some big name schools. It's a great experience."