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Women’s Lacrosse: Smith excels for team as versatile midfielder

Jack Hefferon | Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A versatile, unselfish offense. An aggressive, attacking defense.

When Irish coach Christine Halfpenny arrived at Notre Dame earlier this year, these were the two keys she preached in her game plan for her team’s success.

And on this young Irish roster that has surprised so many this year, no player has been better in both facets of the game than sophomore midfielder Margaret Smith.

Smith – an All-American and national champion as a high schooler in Maryland – has always been a defensive standout, and has continued to thrive in that role for the Irish. Smith has been a force in dispossessing opponents this season, as she leads the team in both caused turnovers and draw controls, and is a close second in ground balls.

Halfpenny said Smith’s ability to take the ball away and win possession for her teammates has changed the course of games – and Notre Dame’s season.

“[Smith] can play defense,” Halfpenny said. “She can be a game-changer on defense. She can limit individuals. She can limit a unit because she’s so smart off-ball, not just good on-ball but smart off-ball. Her basics and fundamentals are outstanding.”

And while Smith has been a consistent defensive presence in her first two seasons at Notre Dame, she has become an integral part of the Irish attack this year as well. Smith was unable to find the scoresheet in 19 games last season, but already has 13 points in 15 games this year, as well as one of the biggest goals of Notre Dame’s season.

Tied 12-12 with Rutgers on March 30 with just 22 seconds left in overtime, Smith cut and caught a perfect pass from senior attack Maggie Tamasitis. Smith buried the shot, securing Notre Dame’s most dramatic win of the season and its first 8-0 start in nearly a decade.

“[Scoring the game-winner] was really exciting, especially with it being such a great game the whole time,” Smith said. “I remember Maggie passed it to me and I didn’t even think I was open and I yelled ‘no’ to her, but she passed anyway. It was a great pass and we were so excited to win that game and pull out a great victory.”

In addition to excelling in nearly every physical aspect of the game, Smith is one of the most heady players on the team.
Coaches and teammates praise her as one of the team’s best competitors, and is considering continuing in lacrosse as a coach after her playing days are over.

Smith said Halfpenny has been a mentor and role model for her, and has already helped her get a taste of coaching as a career.

“I think [coach Halfpenny] has really done a great job making me see all the things that you have to do with coaching,” Smith said. “She has done a great job in talking to me about setting up for me to help coach at camps this summer, and coaching over the summer to help me get into the business a little bit, which is great.”

Graduation is still a long way off for Smith though, leaving her two full seasons – plus the upcoming postseason – to continue making her mark in every area of the game.

“[Smith] is a really, really special player for us,” Halfpenny said. “I think her athletic ability is second to none. I think that she is going to have such a tremendous career here at Notre Dame, because of her versatility.”

Contact Jack Hefferon at
wheffero@nd.edu