Many student-athletes come to Gainesville from other cities, states or even countries to wear the orange and blue of the Florida Gators. But, some do not have to travel far at all. Gators Sophomore midfielder Havana Solaun chose to play her college soccer close to home.
Before Solaun debuted at Florida, she was a local all-star in Gainesville. Solaun was a three-time selection to the Gainesville Sun All-Area Girls Soccer team and part of the squad that reached the 2011 5A region semifinal at Buchholz High School in her senior year. She also represented her country on the club level, as a member of the U-17 Women’s national team at the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship
In her freshman year with the Gators, she appeared in 21 games, starting three of them. She had six goals on 17 shots with six assists, good enough to be named to the SEC All-Freshman team. Solaun also excelled in the classroom and was named to the SEC First year academic honor-roll. But, even with such success as a freshman, she still remembers how nervous she felt the first time she played a game in a Gators uniform.
“It was really exciting, the butterflies and the nerves were crazy because of the stands and the lights and everything kind of combined,” said Solaun.
In her sophomore year, she played in 25 games and started in 24, logging a total of 1,833 minutes with eight assists and seven goals (including 4 game winning goals). Solaun was second on the team with 22 points and tied for second in goals. She was also fourth in the entire conference in assists and her 22 points were good enough for seventh in the conference.
The Gators have had a lot of success in her first two years on the team, and she has been an active participant in two NCAA tournament berths and one SEC championship.
“Winning the SEC tournament was a big step for us and was a really proud moment,” Solaun said when asked about her fondest memory as a Gator.
Solaun’s family is often there to celebrate such moments and watch as her career progresses with a unique ritual only a homegrown talent could understand.
“After Sunday games I usually go home with my mom and have dinner with the family,” said Solaun.
The Psychology major and Gators midfielder hopes to enjoy many more celebrations over home-cooked meals with family as her career progresses.