In a month, halfway across the world, Lauren Moyer will reach the pinnacle of an already impressive field hockey career.
The Central York High School graduate recently learned she's been selected to play for the U.S. Women's National Field Hockey Team which will compete in the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals from July 8-23 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Moyer, who starred in college for a powerhouse North Carolina program, is no stranger to international competition.
In 2016, she traveled to Chile for the Women's Hockey Junior World Cup and Trinidad & Tobago for the Women's Junior Pan-American Games.
The trip to South Africa, however, is at a whole different level. She's now on the traveling roster for the senior women's national team.
It's a chance for the 22-year-old Moyer to make a good impression on national team coach Janneke Schopman at an event where the U.S. team will try to advance to the FIH Hockey World League Final, as well as solidify a qualifying spot for the 2018 World Cup.
Major opportunity: It's a major opportunity for Moyer, and she knows it.
"The upcoming tournament is absolutely the biggest event in my career to date," Moyer said. "Even though on the under-21 team I was able to compete in the Junior Pan Am (Games), playing at the senior level is a totally different game."
Moyer has already made an impression on Schopman. She recently made her first three appearances for the U.S. senior national team during a series of games against Ireland in late May at the American training center at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster. Moyer competed in all three games at left midfield, helping the Americans go 2-0-1 against the Irish.
"Playing the games against Ireland provided us as a staff with a lot of valuable information for selecting the players, as well as our final weeks of preparation for Hockey World League Semifinals," Schopman said in a news release. "Picking the final 18 athletes was tough. The level of some of the players is really close, so it made us look at certain details. With this selection, I feel we have a good balance in the team and I’m excited about the journey ahead of us."
Playing close to home: Playing in Lancaster allowed Moyer, who is currently living in York, to make her U.S. senior team debut in front of many family and friends, including her parents, Jon and Angeline.
"It was a really great experience," Moyer said. "It was really special to represent the U.S. at the senior level for the first time, and for it to be on home turf with family there watching, it's something I won't forget.
"... Having our training facility in Lancaster has been great so far. It's nice to have a feeling of familiarity in the area, especially during this transition period when everything is so new. Having my support system so close is fantastic, especially for events like the Ireland series when everyone can come — I think that my family enjoys the 25-minute drive rather than the seven-hour drive to (North Carolina to) see a home game, too."
Trying not to think about Olympics: Earning a senior team berth could be the first step to making the U.S. Olympic team. The Americans, currently ranked sixth in the world, just missed a medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, finishing fifth. Moyer, however, isn't allowing herself to think ahead to a possible berth in the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.
"My goal right now is to take everything day by day and just enjoy the process," she said. "I'm choosing to control what I can control and looking no further than our upcoming tournament in July so I can focus on putting everything I have into being prepared so we can have a good showing in South Africa."
Moyer says field hockey is currently her full-time profession.
"Right now I am focusing solely on field hockey," she said. "I am still getting used to the high standards of the national team and what is expected of you day in and day out, so channeling all of my energy into that is really important."
Decision pays off: After ending her North Carolina career as an All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer and third-team All-American, Moyer mulled her options before deciding to continue her field hockey career.
"I think that I have chosen to continue to pursue field hockey because I want to be able to continue to challenge myself and see how far I can go," she said. "The national team is physically and mentally demanding, but the trade-offs are incredible. To be able to represent the U.S at the highest level of your sport is incredibly special and something I would have regretted if I had just walked away after my senior year."
That decision has already paid off handsomely for Moyer. It's allowed her to reach a new pinnacle in her field hockey career.
It's also opened doors to even greater possibilities in her athletic future.
Steve Heiser is sports editor for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.