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Lindsey Horan: She Won't Shy Away From Goals

U.S. U-17 WNT forward Lindsey Horan was the leading scorer through group play at the 2010 CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship. That success has opened up her eyes to one constant in the world of soccer: people love goal scorers.

Lindsey Horan has a problem. More of an internal conflict, really.

You see, the 15-year-old striker out of Golden, Colo., is quite shy. But she also loves to score goals. Really loves it in fact. She loves it as much as most teenage girls love stuffed animals, getting their driver’s license and the Jonas Brothers.

However, at the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championships in Costa Rica, where she is the tournament’s leading scorer with eight goals, she’s come to realize more than ever that scoring goals brings lots of attention. It means people will want to talk to her, to interview her, to find out what makes her tick.

That’s where the shy part comes in.

“One of my worst fears is talking in front of people, or giving speeches at school,” said Horan, who almost breaks into a sweat just talking about talking. “I’m just really shy around people I don’t know. I think I have to know people really well before I start to really talk. I’m even quiet at our team meals with the U-17s.”

When told that Mia Hamm was also very shy when she was her age, she smiled (she didn’t say anything, though). Then after some internal dialogue (she didn’t speak with anyone else), she realized that her love of scoring goals far outweighs her shyness. She then decided she needs to work on her interview skills, just like she’s been working hard on her soccer skills for about the past 12 years.

“I guess I need to work on getting better at talking to people about soccer,” said Horan. “We have a great group of girls on this team and it’s great if people can get to know about our players and our team. As painful as it is, I’m going to have to do my part.”

At 5-foot-9 and perhaps still growing, Horan has the potential to be a force for the U.S. U-17s. She has tremendous attacking qualities, the ability to play with her back to goal, to combine with her teammates and also to run at defenses. Like most young players, her finishing is a work in progress, but she’s shown the knack for scoring in a myriad of ways so far in the tournament.

She scores bushels of goals for her club team the Colorado Rush, and instead of playing high school soccer, trains with the Rush U-16 Nike boys team, which has certainly helped improve her speed of a play and toughness.

“I hate talking about myself,” said Horan. “But if had to describe my game, I guess I’d say I give us good composure on offense and I try to be a good finisher, not just a shooter.”

Her teammates are certainly impressed.

“She’s really good at combining with everyone and she’s really tricky with the ball,” said U.S. midfielder Isabel Farrell. “And she’s tall, really tall. I can definitely say from playing against her in practice that she’s scary to play against.”

Horan says her short-term soccer goals are qualifying for and playing in the U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“That’s what we all are focused on,” she said. But after that, Horan would love to advance to the U.S. U-20s and then maybe one day the full team.

By then, she hopes, she’ll have this talking thing down pat.

If her interview abilities catch up with her soccer skills, she’ll soon be giving the graduation speech at her high school. But “don’t count on it,” she said. For now, it’s small steps.

“My interview after the Haiti game was the worst ever,” she said. “I honestly think I said ‘my team played me some great balls, I got the ball and I scored the ball.’ It was so bad!”

“If I can manage to get out one good quote in my next interview, I’ll be happy,” added Horan.

For now, if she just does her talking on the field – and there she’s been quite verbose – then it’s the U.S. team that will be happy.