Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kristin Horton follows her father's success at Charlotte Latin soccer

Kristin Horton has always had a reputation to live up to. Her father, Lee, is not only her high school soccer coach at Charlotte Latin, but he also starred on the soccer field as a goalkeeper for UNC Chapel Hill in the mid-1970s.

For the last four seasons, Horton has been busy making a name for herself as a three-time all-state, all-conference goalkeeper for the three-time defending state champion Charlotte Latin girls' soccer team.

"We've always had a close bond as a father and a daughter, but I think both playing the same position in the same sport has been very special time for us," said Lee, who was inducted into the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007. "I'm sure there have been times when I've been too hard on or too critical of her. But in the long run I think it has made her better."

It would be hard to imagine any player playing any better under any coach. In the past two seasons, Horton has allowed only seven goals as Latin has won 37 consecutive games and two state championships. This year, Horton finished off her high school career with her best season to date, allowing only two goals and recording 15 shutouts (in 20 games) as the Hawks went a perfect 20-0.

Horton saved her best for last, blanking all three playoffs opponents - Wesleyan Christian (4-0), St. Mary's (5-0) and Charlotte Country Day (1-0) - to win her third consecutive state championship.

Horton also took most of the Hawks' free kicks, netting four goals and dishing out four assists while tending the net this season.

Horton "has been around soccer her whole life," said Lee. "But I've always talked from goalkeeper perspective. I think she understands the position as well as anybody I've seen.

"The life of a goalkeeper can be very hard because, mentally and emotionally, it is the toughest position on the field."

Horton has battled injuries for most of her career: multiple knee problems, two concussions and a severely jammed middle finger on her left hand.

"Playing with pain and injuries is a part of the game," said Horton. "Being smart about what you do and how hard you do it, in practice and in games, has been the hard part for me."

Now, Horton begins the process of moving to the next level at Liberty University, where she has accepted a scholarship to play next season.

Before she reports to Liberty later this summer, Horton will continue to train as a non-roster member of the Charlotte Eagles' semi-professional team, which Lee coaches.

"It's definitely a bittersweet situation in my life," said Horton of leaving her father's teams. "I'm kind of sad about leaving my dad, but I know it is a great opportunity for me to grow as a player. It's going to be different, but I am very excited about taking my game to the next level."

The feeling is mutual: "This is just the beginning of what will be a great opportunity for (Kristin)," said Lee, who said he still eats lunch with his daughter every day, even at school.

"It will be different at first, but I think eventually she will really get a chance to grow into an even better player and person.

"Of course, I will always be just a phone call away."

Jay Edwards covers sports for South Charlotte News. Have a story idea for Jay? E-mail him at jedwardsjr23@hotmail.com.


Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/05/26/1450066/this-apple-didnt-fall-too-far.html#ixzz0p3XpK9vf

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