ND Women’s Lacrosse
Smith exemplifies Irish culture
Katie Heit | Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Four-year starter and 2013 All-American senior defender Margaret Smith has been making an impact since she was a freshman.
“I think she’s single handedly elevated the program’s IQ and their ability to play the high pressure we want to play,” Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said. “She’s one of a few players who have been playing and making a massive impact since her freshman year, so that alone has been a great thing for our program. Since I’ve come here, it’s been really nice to see her support the direction and the culture the program is going in.”
Smith entered her freshman year as a defender, but Halfpenny said she saw more potential in her when she arrived.
“As a freshman, he was a defender and when I got here her sophomore year, we moved her into a midfielder role, seeing some explosion,” Halfpenny said. “She did a good job learning the game as a midfield defender. Her junior year she really started seeing the other side of the ball and did a lot for us. She was on fire against Ohio State last season, which was a pinnacle to our offensive season.”With a deeper team this year, Halfpenny said she again needed to put Smith back on defense.
“This year we’ve moved her back because our team is deeper, we have a lot of talent and our need is on the defensive end,” Halfpenny said. “It’s been neat to see she’s turned into a player who will do whatever is needed at this point. She’s been one of our top matchup defenders and she’s continued to lead the young kids to show them how we play defense, how we play midfield so that’s been huge for us.”
Smith is the only senior starter for the Irish this season and was recently named a second-team midseason All-American, along with freshman attack Cortney Fortunato. Smith said her success is in part due to the influences of former players.
“I’ve had a lot of older players who have helped me develop along the way and a great coaching staff,” Smith said. “Without my teammates and coaches I wouldn’t be as good as a player.”
Despite the success she has found with the Irish, Notre Dame was not originally on the top of her college list.
“It wasn’t my first choice when I started looking originally,” Smith said. “It’s just something about when you get here and then you leave and you know you’ve just felt something. I had a great experience with the team and the environment as a whole. It’s really different from any other place.”
Though Smith has had a lot of personal success since joining the Irish squad, her favorite moment of her career came earlier this season, when the Irish took a close 9-8 victory over Northwestern, national champion in seven of the last nine seasons, on March 5.
“That’s something our program hasn’t done in a long time,” Smith said. “It was a complete team effort, and it was something not just us but the alumnae have worked toward over the last several years so that was just an amazing moment.”
Halfpenny said Smith’s leadership and skill are the key impacts the senior has made to the team.
“She’s such a huge leader by example,” Halfpenny said. “She is probably one of our top creative players. She has an incredibly unique skill set.”
Smith said her leading role as the only starting senior has been fully supported by the rest of her teammates.
“I think I’ve have good support from my other seniors and the other upperclassmen so that’s been really helpful,” Smith said. “Even the younger kids are really willing to listen to the leadership so it’s an all-around effort to contribute.”
Smith and the Irish are back in action against Virginia at 3 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium.