Kearny’s Horvaht follows in family’s soccer tradition

It’s safe to say that soccer is a major part of the Horvaht’s family life.

The Kearny family has always played soccer. Father Andre was a great player in his heyday in Brazil, playing for a top club team there. Mother Marcia also played, as did their daughter Nathaly.

So when the time came for Emily Horvaht to step on the soccer pitch, it was a natural gravitation.

“I just had to play,” said Horvaht, a sophomore forward on the Kearny High School varsity girls’ soccer team. “I played (Kearny) Thistle (the storied youth program) my whole life, since I was about three.”

And since those days as a toddler, Horvaht had one predominant trait.

“I always had aggressiveness,” Horvaht said. “Ever since I was little, it’s just the way I played. I guess I had to show people I was there.”

Horvaht had a limited role with the Kardinals last year as a freshman, seeing sparingly with the varsity toward the end of the season.

In the offseason, Horvaht realized that she was going to have a chance to play more – due to graduation of some key players and a change in head coach from Stefanee Pace Kivlehan to Mike Sylvia.

“We did lose a lot of key players,” Horvaht said. “Over the summer, my good friend Julia (Araujo) decided to take it upon ourselves to get better.”

So the two close buddies trained together and went to FASST, the Lyndhurst athletic training facility that has helped produce some of the area’s best athletes.

“FASST definitely helped to improve my running,” Horvaht said. “I felt like I was building up everything.”

And Horvaht had one goal in mind.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play college soccer,” Horvaht said.

New coach Sylvia had no preconceived notions about Horvaht before he took the position.

“I knew she had a little bit of potential,” Sylvia said. “But I knew she had a physical presence. As soon as she steps onto the field, you know she’s there.”

Sylvia liked what he saw from Horvaht during the preseason. In fact, it happened during the first practice.

“She bodied herself into me shoulder to shoulder,” Sylvia said. “I was happy about it. I knew that we lost a lot of girls to injury and we had to get them into soccer shape.”

As it turned out, Horvaht was one of those players.

“She was out for about a week and a half with a soft tissue injury,” Sylvia said. “I know she was frustrated, not being able to play. But she was able to work through it.”

When the season began two weeks ago, Horvaht was ready.

“I was just so focused,” Horvaht said.

In the season opener against Memorial, Horvaht exploded for six goals, a single game total not readily remembered and could more than likely be a new school record for goals in a game.

In the first four games of the season, Horvaht has knocked home a total of 10 goals and collected four assists.

For her efforts, Horvaht has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week. She is the first honoree of the 2020-2021 scholastic sports season and will culminate in the presentation of The Observer’s Male and Female Athletes of the Year next June and July.

Horvaht is unfortunately ineligible for the award this year, considering she’s only a sophomore and the award can only go to a senior. But athletically, Horvaht is a candidate in two years, because she is also a standout basketball player.

Horvaht was stunned that she tallied six goals in a game.

“I honestly thought I was dreaming that I scored six goals,” Horvaht said. “Not only was I shocked, but I was also proud of myself. I worked very hard to get ready and I deserved to score six goals. It’s great that I’m able to play with my friend Julia. We pushed ourselves so much and to have this happen is amazing.”

Sylvia is not surprised at all with Horvaht’s offensive explosion.

“She has such relentlessness,” Sylvia said. “She goes at it pretty hard. She also has the uncanny way of finding open spots on the field. You look up and she’s posting up with the ball, turning around and shooting. She’s making a splash for sure, but honestly, I’m not surprised. I’m thrilled with her success, but it’s not a surprise to me.

Added Sylvia, “She’s so coachable. If we make an adjustment, she sees it immediately.”

Horvaht knows that the solid start isn’t the end of the road.

“For sure, this is just the beginning,” Horvaht said. “It’s just the start. I’m going to continue to improve.”

That’s a scary thought for Kearny opponents in the future.




Kearny High School sophomore forward Emily Horvaht. Photo by Jim Hague




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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”