College Spotlight: Barnes making most of early opportunities

Typical true freshmen come into a program and experience a shock at the increase in level of competition. They struggle to adjust, and are forced to sit on the sidelines and bide their time, gleaning in practices and by watching veteran players ahead of them.

Lauren Barnes isn’t your typical freshman. The Rabun County product left as the most decorated soccer player in school history, and hit the ground running at Columbus State University.

“Coming into the season, I thought I would get some playing time, but I didn’t think I would start any games this season or have the success I’ve had,” admits Barnes. “Of course I wanted to play, but I was trying to be realistic with myself. I’m really thankful for the opportunities I’ve gotten and the support I’ve received from my teammates!”

Barnes, a freshman forward for the Lady Cougars, and has already posted 2 goals, 2 assists (6 total points), and has registered a 77% shot on goal clip. The goal-scorer was ready for when her name was called. To date, she’s played in 10 games and started 6 times.

“I just made sure I was focusing on playing my game and not worrying too much about other players,” says Barnes. “I also made sure I was supporting my teammates and working as hard as I could. I try to stay calm and focus on myself and helping my team succeed in any way I can!”

Players like Barnes have been key to the team’s #2 national ranking that has come in tow with a 9-0 start to the season and a 4-0 mark in the Peach Belt Conference. While Barnes makes it look easy, making the leap from high school to college ball is not really that simple.

“A major difference is the speed of play,” states Barnes. “I had to get used to the pace of passes and playing against bigger, faster, and stronger opponents.”

From the looks of it, Barnes is adjusting just fine. One obstacle a high school soccer player faces too is going from playing a spring season and going directly into a collegiate full fall schedule.

“Going from the spring season straight to the fall is something I’m used to because of club,” adds Barnes. “However, it’s different because over the summer I don’t do much training with a team, so I have to hold myself accountable to work out and keep my skills up. I knew I would be just fine coming in if I kept my fitness up and continued to improve in every other area on the field as well.”

So far, SO GOOD for Lauren Barnes. Barnes closed her career at Rabun County with 109 career goals, 27 assists, and a remarkable 2.86 goals/game. She had 65 goals as a senior in 2021, which ranked second nationally. She was a multiple All-State honoree, and was named BLITZ Soccer Player of the Year in 2021 and was inducted into the BLITZ Hall of Fame, Class of 2021.

CSPOT Framed Print (11×17) – Lauren Barnes

CSPOT Framed Print (11×17) – Lauren Barnes


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