Smith providing boost in senior year

By Jackson Alexander

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

By Jackson Alexander
Collegian Staff

On Saturday, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team put together a balanced attack, led by an impressive performance from Haley Smith.

The senior had a game-high four goals and helped her team defeat Vermont handily, 17-9. She now leads the team in goals with seven after just two games.

“The great thing about Haley is she’s a huge spark plug for us,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “Whenever she has the ball she goes 100 percent all the time.”

Smith, a native of Ijamsville, Md., has had three successful years at UMass. As a freshman, she registered two goals and four assists in limited playing time.

She took a huge step in her development the following year when she was third on the team in goals (33) and points (38). However, her scoring plummeted in her junior year from 38 points to 13 points when she was forced to move from midfield to defense.

“My junior year they needed me to play defense but technically I’m a midfielder,” Smith said. “They needed me on defense last year, they need me on attack this year. I’ll do whatever they ask of me.”

This season, Smith comes off the bench for the Minutewomen, another thing that she seems to take in stride.

“I started out [on the bench], so I get to watch their defense and then fly in,” Smith said. “It’s a perfect opportunity to get in there go hard and exploit what I’ve been watching.”

The lightning-quick midfielder stands at a less than intimidating 5-foot, 2-inches, but her speed and creativity makes her incredibly dangerous.

“She might be small but her stature is very big inside, because of how she carries herself,” McMahon said. “She plays fearless out there and doesn’t care who she’s going up against, she’s going to work hard no matter what.”

In Saturday’s game, Smith scored on a variation of great runs and cuts to the goalmouth. She quickly came off the bench and scored the game’s first goal just over a minute into the game, then recorded her second goal of the contest at the 22 minute, five second mark in the first half. In the second half, she scored her third and fourth goals with the game out of reach. All four of her scores were unassisted.

Smith leads the team in goals but is second in points scored, behind reigning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, Jackie Lyons. The senior teammates have proved to be a lethal combination for the Minutewomen this season. Lyons tallied a hat trick and also added three assists in Saturday’s game. The two have had a hand in 16 of UMass’ 34 points on the season.

“Jackie’s a great player,” Smith said. “She’s an all-around team player and I love playing with her.”

Lyons also recognized that playing alongside Smith is a real privilege and said that she expected Smith to step up her offensive game.

“It’s not a surprise, I mean it’s our last year so we’re all just trying to step up and score goals as team leaders,” Lyons said.

Smith will graduate at the end of the season along with fellow classmates Lyons and Nazy Kerr. All three have had huge roles on the team throughout their careers and have aided the Minutewomen to two A-10 Championships.

Smith has spent her career at UMass adapting to unusual circumstances. She helped the Minutewomen win A-10 titles in 2009 and 2010 and this year, her team-first mentality could lead to a third-straight championship.

Jackson Alexander can be reached at [email protected]