Two years ago, Katie Lockwood was not sure what to expect as she boarded a plane and flew halfway around the world to play college soccer at Eastern Florida State College.
Lockwood admits it was a bit overwhelming at first but she settled in and started 23 of her 25 games as a Titan, leading the team to national championship tournament appearances both seasons.
And on Thursday, the Huddersfield, England native was named the United Soccer Coaches Association Junior College National Player of the Year.
"I can't believe it really," Lockwood said. "It means a lot, I worked hard over the summer to really get fit and ready for the season because I knew it was going to be a big season for us. The team helped me a lot, could not have done it without them and the coaches, the amount of time they spent to help me get better is crazy."
The hard work paid off as the midfielder finished with 17 goals and 12 assists this season, helping the Titans to a 13-3 record.
Lockwood also became the eighth Titan women's soccer player to be named a first team NJCAA All-American this season and is the first to be named the United Soccer Coaches Association Junior College National Player of the Year.
As good as Lockwood was during the regular season, she seemed to turn it up in the postseason, scoring five goals and assisting on three others in the six Titans postseason games.
"Katie has had a tremendous season and is one of the reasons we finished third at the national championship tournament," Eastern Florida State College women's soccer coach Jeff Carr said. "She is very deserving of this award. She works hard every day and has a passion for the game. I am so happy for her and our program."
As a midfielder for the Titans, Lockwood was the leader on the field, a role she has enjoyed this season.
"I brought a leadership quality to the team and I knew that would be one of my roles this year. As a midfielder I get to be on the ball and distribute to the rest of the team. You get to really control the tempo. If we want to play quicker, I control that," Lockwood said. "I think you have a better understanding of the game and what is expected of you as a sophomore and I think part of the job is to educate the freshmen and show them what it means to be in the national tournament and the difference between the regular season and the tournament because it is totally different.
"You have to show them what is expected as a sophomore and I think I did that."
Teammate Nathali Da Silva was also named a first team All-American. The sophomore from Brazil finished with 18 goals and 12 assists and like Lockwood, came on strong down the stretch, scoring in five of the final six games as a Titan.
Defender Juna Suppan was named second team All-American. The trio will be honored in Philadelphia during the United Soccer Coaches All-America Luncheon on January 20, 2018 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.