Expectations high for UF's Solaun
Published: Friday, August 31, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 10:44 p.m.
It didn’t take long for former Buchholz soccer standout Havana Solaun to make her mark at Florida.
Who: No. 22 Florida (1-1-1) at No. 1 Florida State (2-0)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Seminole Soccer Complex on FSU campus
On air: ESPN3/ESPN 850/900
Solaun, a three-time (2008-10) Sun first-team All-Area performer who was also a member of the 2010 U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team, played in 21 of UF’s 25 matches as a true freshman in 2011. She made four starts and logged 989 minutes on the pitch, finishing as UF’s fourth-leading scorer with 18 points (six goals, six assists).
Expectations are understandably high for this talented sophomore midfielder who earned 2011 SEC All-Freshman honors and was also named to the 2012 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll.
“I think that’s the year that you probably see the most improvement, just because they know what to expect,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “That’s a big thing. Understanding what to expect the next year as a sophomore is such a huge advantage over the freshmen, who have no idea.”
Solaun echoed that sentiment.
“Your first year, you’ve got to get a feel for everything – the way the coaches coach, all the players, your style of play, how you can fit into the team, all those things,” she said. “It’s really just trying a bunch of new things and seeing what works.
“Coming into your second year, you’re a lot more comfortable because you kind of know what you’re expecting. That makes it a lot easier to adjust.”
Both Solaun’s shot percentage of .353 (six goals on 17 shots) and percentage of shots on goal of .765 (13 of 17) were team-highs last season. She scored more than 10 percent of UF’s 57 goals despite taking less than five percent of the team’s 380 shots.
“She fits in with the way we play because we are a relatively patient team,” Burleigh said. “But I think she also is starting to recognize when she can impose herself more on the game. That’s something we’re definitely encouraging in her.”
Through the first three matches of 2012, Solaun has taken four shots and has yet to score. But she did net her first point of the season with a beautiful assist on Jillian Graff’s goal that cut a 2-0 Duke lead in half and ignited a come-from-behind, 3-2 overtime win over the No. 2 Blue Devils last Sunday.
Burleigh expects the production to continue to rise as the season progresses.
“Havana had a great summer,” she said. “She started the summer playing in Canada, then came back and started training here at home. I think she’s in the best shape that I’ve seen her. She also has this more aggressive nature to her. I think part of that is due to what we were trying to do in the spring with the team, and that’s caught on with her. But I think part of it is just her confidence and her kind of coming into her own.
“Everything that she did last year, which was really good, has just been magnified. I think you’re going to see some really big things out of her, and I’m excited.”
Solaun, meanwhile, is tickled pink with her decision to play for the Gators.
“Probably one of my favorite things is that I’m from Gainesville just because of the amount of support that I have,” she said. “Not just from my family, but from people I went to school with and people my parents are friends with. There are just so many connections and friends that you make, and it’s just so great seeing everyone out there at the home games.
“I really can’t explain how amazing it feels to have so much support.”