Havana Solaun has all the traits of a high-level soccer player.
She is fast, consistent and a team player – and she’s only a sophomore. The young midfielder became the second leading goal scorer on the team, behind senior Erika Tymrak, in the Gators’ 2012 season. She scored a total seven goals, and was second in assists, grabbing eight last season. Solaun said getting the ball into the back of the net is a feeling unlike any other.
“Once you score it’s kind of like ‘Wow, it worked,’” said Solaun. “We spend hours and hours of practice just trying to score and when it actually happens in the game, it kind of feels like your hard work paid off.”
Showing her strengths on the field early in her college career has gained Solaun attention nationally. The sophomore was recruited to play three games with the U.S. U-23 Women’s National team in Spain in March of 2013. Solaun brought her versatility on the field to La Manga, Spain, contributing an assist in the team’s 6-0 victory over Sweden. Solaun found U.S. teammate Colleen Williams in the 80th minute and initiated a cross kick that set up Williams for the goal.
Despite her achievements on the collegiate and foreign fields, the sophomore hasn’t let the success get to her head. Growing up on a farm just outside of Gainesville, FL, where she had to milk one of three family cows, Solaun credits her upbringing for her success.
“It teaches you a lot of discipline,” Solaun said of her farm work. “In high school that was my main chore, so it taught me to really manage my time. I had to make a lot of sacrifices because I had to be home every night at 5 o’clock to milk, and I had to wake up at 6:30 every morning to milk.”
Her small town life helped her make an impact away from the soccer fields as well. While in high school, Solaun rounded up cleats and soccer balls for children living in a Guatemalan village displaced by floods. Solaun joined her father on a trip to the village to help the community and deliver the soccer equipment. The experience gave her a perspective she has carried ever since.
“Soccer is such a distraction for them that it was really amazing to see how happy it really made them,” said Solaun. “They would play for hours if they could. To me, that just made me realize how amazing the game can be.”
With two more years in collegiate play, Solaun is working toward a degree in psychology to become a sport psychologist if she doesn’t play pro soccer . For now though, she is hopeful for the seasons ahead.
“I wanna become a more consistent player overall for my team,” said Solaun. “I think I kind of have my moments and I wanna try and show more of that in the future.”