Mill Creek's Lauren Tanner — Photo Illustration: Brendan Sullivan and Nicole Puckett
HOSCHTON --Lauren Tanner entered her junior season at Mill Creek with a different mindset.
Her college future was set --she committed to Georgia the summer after her sophomore year --and she wanted more out of herself in high school soccer. For the first time, she put pen to paper and jotted down goals.
The main individual one --score 20 goals.
"Every game I'd write down how many goals I needed to score to reach my goal and that kept me focused and motivated," Tanner said. "Last season was the first season I wrote everything down and really started to focus on what I wanted to do that season. I think it paid off."
Mill Creek's supporters would agree. Tanner scored 23 goals and contributed 11 assists for a state quarterfinal team. It was a considerable increase over her first two seasons, when she had six goals and 10 assists as a sophomore for a state Final Four team and had 11 goals and six assists as a freshman.
She was an impact player her first two seasons, but she took it to another level last season.
"(Tanner) came in as a junior more athletic than she was as a sophomore," Mill Creek girls coach Brent Leitsch said. "She became stronger, faster and she also became the focal point of our offense. Before she was a complimentary player. As a junior we needed her to be more of a goal scorer and she definitely did that.
"I expect a continuation of her goal scoring from last season and I expect her to be a leader vocally and by example. As a senior leader, everybody looks to her as an example. She's done a great job. She's positive. She says the right things and she's also very demanding of them. She sets a good example because she's the hardest-working player out there."
Tanner had success last season despite heavy defensive attention from opponents. The more she scored, the more foes tried to shut her down with double teams.
More of that will come this season for the senior, who scored two goals Tuesday night in the Hawks' season-opening win at West Forsyth. It was a nice start for a program with high goals for the upcoming season.
"I would definitely say we want to get to state and do well," Tanner said. "We made the Final Four a couple of years ago and last year we made the quarterfinals. I see no reason why we can't go all the way this season."
For the Hawks to do that well, they need major contributions from Tanner offensively. They need her to score goals --and meet her goals.
The ones she wrote down for her senior season are even higher than a year ago.
"This may be a little bit ambitious, but I want to double my goals from last year, so I want to get 40 goals this season," Tanner said. "I feel like, why not make the goals as high as I can."
That plan sounds good to her coach.
"I would be OK with 40 goals," Leitsch said. "That sounds good to me."