No mulling over offer necessary, Mullen heads to Due West, South Carolina’s D-II Erskine College

Weeki Wachee senior Lauren McMullen signs a letter-of-intent to play next season with D-II Erskine College Flying Fleet in Due West, South Carolina.

GIRLS SOCCER

Fourth-year Hornet

midfielder leaves as

school’s best passer

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

 

While the search continues for Weeki Wachee High School’s next female head soccer coach – after the Hornets’ Danny Fierro stepped down after five seasons this winter – one of the program’s premier pillars has committed to the next level.

Lauren Mullen, a four-year starter at midfield, and possessor of the WWHS school record for most career assists (70), recently signed a national letter of intent to play soccer beginning this fall for D-II Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina.

Michael and Nicole Mullen attended their younger daughter, Luaren’s signing to D-II Erskine College.

Mullen 411

Mullen, 17, isn’t your average player.

At 5-foot-5 and 125 pounds, she’s improved on not getting knocked off the ball by bulkier defenders.

Lauren was born in Long Island, NY, as the youngest of four children to Michael and Nicole Mullen.

DNA-wise, Lauren inherited her mother’s brains to attend Hofstra University. She served as a cheerleader, who also played softball in high school.

Lauren’s father was extremely active, playing hockey, and soccer along with being adaptable in most any other athletic endeavor.

The Mullen’s have called Hernando County home since Lauren’s sixth-grade year.

Lauren Mullen

Not surprisingly, Mullen’s original organized sport was recreational soccer at 3 years old in Long Island.

All told this fall will be her 15th year on the pitch.

Over the years, she’s morphed from being a forward to left back. But since she was 10, she’s been plugged in as a midfielder.

Ironically, in between she’s played everywhere on the pitch and received awards at different positions.

As a third-, fourth- and fifth-grader the brown-tressed and hazel-eyed Mullen did her best Seytia Hill impersonation alternating three sports – soccer, lacrosse and softball – for three years.

On the diamond, she played either catcher, shortstop or pitcher. Though she loved playing shortstop the most.

Winding Waters Yellow Jackets

After relocating to Hernando County, Mullen immediately joined the Winding Waters’ fledgling volleyball team as a sixth-grader.

As a seventh-grader, she played volleyball, softball and participated on the track and field squad specializing in the 400 meters and 4×400 relay.

As an eighth-grader, she played volleyball for a third season for the Yellow Jackets and ran track.

She said she gave up on softball due to having too many younger, inexperienced players on the team.

Once Mullen matriculated to the Vespa Way campus of Weeki Wachee High School, her focused was primarily on futbol.

She did have a cup of coffee playing junior varsity volleyball as a freshman and spending one season on the tennis team as a senior.

Outside of athletics on the US 19 campus, Mullen spent her junior and senior years as a member of the school’s student government.

She recently graduated with an outstanding 3.6 unweighted and a 3.8 weighted grade point average.

Her favorite courses included anything that Coach Feirro taught – anatomy and physics – before he resigned to work for Florida Virtual School program.

She says her strong suit is English and history.

She plans to major in sports management.

Ideally, she’d love one day work in the front office for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Tampa Rays or possibly become a female sport agent.

Weeki Wachee’s Lauren Mullen sends a crossing pass against Central High. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Rewinding her prep career

When Mullen arrived at Vespa Way, she was hoping to make a difference.

Over the program’s initial four seasons – three under Kim Jones and the first season under Fierro – the Hornets stood an abysmal 1-65-3 overall.

Things, however, began to change with her arrival.

Inserting new pieces to the lineup, WWHS slowly began to get off the canvas.

The Hornets won two home matches in Year 2 under Fierro to finish 2-14-0 and tallied 18 goals in the process.

As a first-year frosh, Mullen, was responsible for 61 percent (11) of the WWHS goals.

More importantly, the Hernando County doormats were seeing an influx of key players arriving on campus with freshmen Reilley Bain, Theresa Curtis, Marlene Ohr and Heather Kierzek.

In Fierro‘s third season – the school‘s sixth overall season – the Hornets nearly finished .500 settling at 10-11-1 and capturing its first-ever road victories (4).

Despite giving up 66 goals, WWHS countered with 64 goals.

The ultra-quick and multi-dimensional Bain was a perfect fit complimenting the passing prowess of Mullen.

Bain drained 24 goals and added 15 assists.

Weeki Wachee’s Lauren Mullen gets the game with Pasco High started in the 3A-7 district tournament at Weeki Wachee High School. Photo by JOE DICRISTOFALO

But Mullen was no slouch with 13 goals and team-best 18 assists.

Marleen Ohr

Ohr turned into the critical third scoring option depositing 19 goals while aiding the cause with six assists.

WWHS now had three legit scorers up top.

Injuries piled up early in the 2017-18 season.

By season’s end, the Hornets were playing their best ball.

It showed in titanic penalty kick win in overtime over archrival Springstead during the 3A-7 quarterfinals, 4-3.

But in the semis, the Hornets appeared out of gas falling to Dade City-Pasco, 11-3.

The loss to the Pirates denied the Hornets a chance at a winning season finishing 12-13 overall.

In Fierro’s fourth campaign, Bain was marvelous sparkling with a school-record 33 goals.

Jenny O’Sullivan

But Mullen turned heads snapping Springstead’s Jenny O’Sullivan’s 1993-94 24-year-old Hernando County record of 27 assists in a single season with 34.

By breaking the quarter of a century standard, Mullen was further honored by being named co-Hernando County Player of the Year with Springstead’s Erika Hiller.

In Fierro’s fifth season – the Hornets’ eighth overall – the Hornets reached the promised land with its first-ever winning campaign at 9-6-2.

The seasonal highlights included dispensing of F.W. Springstead in the 3A-7 quarterfinals, 6-0, before being eliminated by Nature Coast Technical, 5-1.

The by products of the US-19 crew’s first-ever winning season were the All-Hernando County all-star selections for the third straight season for both Bain and Mullen.

Bain finished with 31 goals while Mullen dropped in 12 goals and added 15 assists.

Reilley Bain

Mullen was asked how the Hornets climbed the mountain, “As our confidence grew year-by-year, the team’s chemistry was built. The end result was the success of the team.”

On which season stood out, Mullen didn’t hesitate.

“It was my junior year,” she remarked. “It was my most successful year. That was when we beat Springstead in the pouring down rain in overtime.

“… That match was like a movie. We had our ups and downs before coming back and winning in PKs. I loved it because we all came together as a team. Seeing all that excitement with the win was something. We’d been working hard all season long for that moment,” noted Mullen.

Weeki Wachee’s Lauren Mullen launches a free kick over Central High’ Gabby Custodio. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Mullen was asked to describe what type of player she is.

“I’m an unselfish player,” replied Mullen, who won’t turn 18 until September. “My personal success doesn’t matter ahead of the team’s success. I wanted all my teammates to progress as much as I have.”

On how Mullen recorded a school record 70 assists in four seasons, “When I attack, my head is on swivel. I’m constantly looking for my teammates on the attack. My mind is to be the best player I can be.”

Her biggest improvement arrived with her leadership capabilities.

“When I first got to Weeki Wachee, we’d never won matches before. I wanted to make a name for us in soccer. I think I was able to do that especially with the tremendous support I received from Coach Fierro.”

Danny Fierro

“I’ve always worked on getting quicker down the field,” added Mullen. “Early on, the bigger girls would knock me off the ball. Not any more. It’s a matter of how fast I can get the job done.”

On whether Mullen had any regrets during her 32-47-3 run over her last four winters, “I wouldn’t change anything in the world if I could. I am gonna miss the relationship with Coach Fierro and all the girls.

“I’m the type of person some people think I’m not serious about what I’m doing, but that’s not true. I’m locked into whatever I‘m doing, but I like having fun doing it allows me to succeed. I make jokes while I’m on the pitch, but I’m still into the match and I know my responsibilities.”

Why Erskine?

After soccer season, Mullen was accepted by five schools to play at the next level.

She officially visited three campuses – all D-II schools – nearby St. Leo University, Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia, and Erskine College.

Mullen actually visited Erskine twice.

“Just knowing the girls meant a lot going to Erskine,” explained Mullen. “I could definitely see me playing for them. I watched them practice ad took in a couple matches.

“They took things seriously, but they also had fun.”

Erskine’s head coach made no promises to Mullen.

“She told me to play here I had to be the best version of myself and that I needed to earn a spot to play,” shared Mullen. “I definitely saw that she wanted me to come to the school.”

On breaking down next year‘s Flying Fleet, “It’s it’ll be mostly a sophomore and junior team,” described Mullen. “We play in Due West, which is a smaller town than Brooksville. There’s one Subway and it’s on campus.”

On leaving the Sunshine State, “It was my decision to leave Florida,” noted Mullen. “It’s not as hot in South Carolina. It’s a lot cooler during the winters, too.”

On what her biggest obstacle to success is, “It’s mentally responding,” said Mullen. “When I hit a wall, I’ve got to keep pushing through mentally. I’m very close to my family. I love my parents to death. They’re planning on making as many of my matches as they can. They love watching me play.”

Looking ahead

Before reporting to school on Aug. 17, Mullen s staying fit.

She’s worked as a lifeguard at SunWest for the last year collecting spending cash.

When she’s not life guarding she works out at nearby Planet Fitness 4-5 times a week in preparation for the fall college soccer season.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, she travels to Mitchell High in New Port Richey for a personal workout.

Prior to departing Hernando County, “I’m just taking things one step at a time,” declared Mullen. “I’d like to build my brand as I go along.”

Neymar de Silva Santos

On her lasting legacy, “I hope I left an impression for my teammates,” shared Mullen. “That they love soccer even more than they did before.”

Lionel Messi

What about leaving her best friend Bain for her senior year, “I’m gonna miss Reilley a lot. She was like Neymar to me, while I was like (Lionel) Messi to her. We complimented each other. We worked well together. I think we piggy-backed off each other’s skills.” 

By the Numbers:

Weeki Wachee’s Lauren Mullen (2015-19)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

Lauren Mullen
 

YEAR

 

YR

 

G

 

A

 

TP

2015-16

9

11

3

25

2016-17 *

10

13

18

44

2017-18 *$$

11

22

34#

76

2018-19 *

12

12

15

39

 

TOTALS

 

58

 

70^

 

182

^ Denotes school record.

# Denotes Hernando County record.

* Denotes All-Hernando County selection.

$$ Denotes All-Hernando County Co-Player of the Year.

 

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