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Lauren Horne has been playing field hockey with a heavy heart after her mother Christine passed away on Sept. 23. Lauren, a junior goalie for the Westbrook field hockey team, has recorded 12 shutouts and allowed just nine goals for the Knights all season. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Horne )
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The 2019 season has been an emotional one for Lauren Horne. On the field, the junior goalie has had a great campaign with the Westbrook field hockey team, having posted 12 shutouts for a Knights’ club that has 13 victories as it enters the Class S State Tournament. Off the field, Lauren has been going through some difficult times since her mother Christine passed away on Sept. 23 at age 54 following a long illness.
Westbrook had a scheduled home game against Killingly on the day that Lauren’s mother died. While it would have been understandable for Lauren to sit out the game, she decided that she needed to get into the net and play.
“My dad Jack was the first person to tell me that she had died. Obviously, I was very upset, but I knew that I had to do something to help me with the grief. I needed to be happy,” Lauren says. “My mom always told me what a happy person I was. I love being with my teammates, so I decided to play. They were with me, crying with me. We’re all a sisterhood.”
Lauren earned the win in goal when Westbrook defeated Killingly by a 4-2 score. Head Coach Janet Dickey was impressed with the courage that Lauren displayed by playing that day.
“Here she was going through an incredibly tough and emotional day, and she was entirely focused on the game, but upset that she had given up two first-half goals,” says Dickey. “I really believe that the game was a way for her to release some of those emotions that she had been carrying with her from the morning. She’s an amazing young person.”
As the season progressed, Lauren and the Knights continued winning. Westbrook finished the regular season with a record of 12-1-3 to earn the No. 2 seed in the Shoreline Conference Tournament, as well as the No. 4 seed in the Class S state bracket. Lauren appreciates that she’s on a team with so many great athletes who make things a little easier for her at the goalkeeper’s position.
“I think we kept getting better, because we were able to win quite a few games by two goals or more,” Lauren says. “Any time you’re only ahead, say by 1-0 late in a game, it’s a dangerous situation. As a goalie, you can’t make a mistake, misplay a ball. It made a huge difference this year to have two-goal cushions in some games. We hit a plateau right before the season ended.”
Westbrook claimed a 1-0 win over Old Saybrook in the Shoreline semifinals before taking a 2-1 loss against North Branford in the championship game. Earlier this week, the Knights started play in states by hosting Weston for a first-round game.
“I think our team has reached its stride,” says Lauren. “Another plateau, despite the loss to North Branford.”
Heading into states, Lauren has allowed only nine goals in 18 games for a 0.50 goals-against average this year. Lauren, who began playing field hockey in 6th grade, has been starting in net for Coach Dickey’s club since her freshman year at Westbrook High School.
“Lauren’s dedication to her teammates and to her sport are, often times, indescribable,” Dickey says. “She’s a coach’s dream, an athlete who only comes along once in a while.”
While Lauren is a natural in the net, she didn’t know what position she was going to play when she started her field hockey career.
“I went to a camp when I was young and wasn’t sure where I wanted to play. I was shy, so it took me a while to approach one of the coaches and ask them, ‘I wouldn’t mind being a goalie,’” says Lauren. “Once I got there, it clicked: This is where I want to play the game from now on.”
Lauren believes that effective communication between teammates is one of the biggest components of being a quality keeper.
“Your team is always counting on you. It’s a very responsible position,” she says. “I’m always talking to my defenders, letting them know when a player might be moving into another spot and looking for a clear shot. I try very hard not to let them down.”
When the fall season ends, Lauren suits up for the Westbrook girls’ basketball team, for which she plays both forward and guard. In the spring, Lauren competes in the 400, the 800, the high jump, and the javelin with the girls’ outdoor track squad.
Looking to the future, Lauren is planning on going into a career in nursing. Ultimately, Lauren wants to earn a degree in advanced practice registered nursing with a goal of becoming a midwife.
“I’d love to become a midwife and assist women in giving birth,” says Lauren.
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