Taylor Hornburg, Brianna Villafana and Taelor Hire sign national letters of intent to play girls soccer at the next level
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
EXETER – It seems National Signing Day, Feb. 7, will always be the day of decisions. Even with the early signing period going into effect in December, hundreds of student-athletes still put pen to paper. Among them were three Exeter Monarch girl soccer players, Taylor Hornburg, Brianna Villafana and Taelor Hire, who will play at the collegiate level.
Taylor Hornburg — University of Hawaii-Hilo
Taylor Hornburg has been the Monarchs last line of defense for the past three seasons. Now she’ll look to continue her playing days at the next level. Hornburg signed a National Letter of intent to play for the University of Hawaii-Hilo Vulcans.
“I’m really just excited,” Hornburg said. “It’s such a relief to know all my hard work has paid off in the end.”
Having grown up in a small community Hornburg knows how important it is for people to get along, especially when they play a sport together. When she stepped onto the campus for her official visit she could already feel it. She later discovered the same tight knit feel while meeting the coaching staff and team.
“They were the best of friends, they were the best of family, and it just felt like you belonged there,” Hornburg said.
Besides getting the chance to just be on a team in paradise, Hornburg hopes to start for the Vulcans as a freshman. With their senior goal keeper Jenna Hufford graduating the spot is open. However, she’ll have to compete with red-shirt freshman Ysabela Barin, who is already on the team.
“In a weir way I’ve always felt more comfortable when there is pressure on me,” Hornburg said.
Hornburg plans on majoring in horticulture.
Brianna Villafan — Fresno Pacific University
Also, going to another PACWEST school is defensive player Brianna Villafana. She signed a letter of intent to play for the Fresno Pacific University Sunbirds.
“I’m very excited about the season coming up, and going to push myself harder than I ever have before,” Villafana said.
The desire to improve is not only limited to Villafana, but the entire team at Fresno Pacific. During her official visit she could see not only the coaches, but the players held each other accountable. Similar to the same work ethic she witnessed at Exeter Union.
“You can tell their hearts were in it,” Villafana said. “I’m so excited to be able to have the chance to be on the same team with them.”
While playing for Exeter Villafana has learned a lot of skills, both physically and mentally. Although both are important it is the mental aspect that will carry her to the next level. Villafana remembers a saying form Exeter head coach Darin Lasky, “You can’t be great unless you sell out.”
“Every game you have to put every body part to the ball, and make sure people see that,” Villafana said.
Taelor Hire — Fresno City Rams
Of the three Taelor Hire will attempt to fill the defensive shoes for a championship program. She instead chose to play for the Fresno City Rams at the junior college level, instead of going to a four-year.
“I’ve been working for this for a very long time,” Hire said. “I know it’s a two year, but they are known for sending their players to D-I schools, and receive scholarships.”
The Rams needed to fill a void on defensive after winning the 2016-17 California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championship. Three of the Rams four starting defensive player are set to graduate. With that in mind head coach Oliver Germond set to get Hire to come to Fresno City.
“She is a very confident defender and believes in her ability,” Germond said. “Our priority this year is to not only find good soccer players, but good kids as well and she met all the requirements.”
The size of the role that Hire must step into next season is not unknown to her. However, through the four years with the Monarchs she has learned valuable lessons. Ones that Lasky taught is to build character, and not just skills on the pitch. Most important of all was the lesson of hard work, one that Hire hopes to take to the next level.
“Being on this team I realized that I’m not always one of the best, but it helps me to work at it,” Hire said.