Warriors Athlete of Week: Smith prolific scorer in her sports
Whether it's a soccer ball at her feet, or a hockey puck on her stick, Ally Smith will find a way to bury it in the back of the net.
The Brainerd Warrior senior forward has been one of the top scorers in both of those sports and this fall is no exception. Through 16 regular season soccer games, she leads the Warrior soccer team with 24 goals and has added six assists for 30 total points.
Smith, who has scored five hat tricks this season, is tied for second in the state in goals scored. In addition, she's the program's second all-time leading scorer with 76 goals and 32 assists, trailing only Kelly Rosenthal's 127 career points.
"It's always cool to be high in the stats, but really my teammates do a lot of the work and help me," Smith said. "If it wasn't for my teammates, I don't think I would be where I am in those standings."
Warriors coach Grant Gmeinder said this season Brainerd has asked Smith to score more, along with teammate Brynn Waters, after two of the team's top scorers from a year ago either graduated or did not return.
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- Sport: Soccer
- Position: Forward
- Year: Senior
- Age: 17
- Height: 5-7
- Career highlight: Scoring hat trick vs. Elk River
- Other sports: Hockey, track & field
- Grade-point average: 3.6
- Favorite class: AP Language with Mr. Devine
- Favorite food: Fish tacos
- Favorite movie: "Miracle"
- Favorite TV show: "Grey's Anatomy"
- Hobbies: Hunting, fishing
- Future plans: Attend Bemidji State University, play soccer
- Favorite athlete: Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins
- Parents: Tom and Kris Smith
"I think Ally knew she would have to shoulder that load, and she has," Gmeinder said. "She's allowed others to make her better. She doesn't have near the assists that she had hoped, but she's allowed others to set her up a lot. It's a little different role for her this year, but she's taken it and has done really well obviously."
As a senior captain, Smith believes she's had another role on this year's team.
"This year I feel like it's more a calming piece of the game, which I have to work on a little bit more, calming players down if they get too excited," she said. "We need to stay calm if we're losing and we have to come back. That hasn't changed that much from last year, but it's a big factor, helping younger girls and calming everyone down on the field."
Smith also believes soccer and hockey complement each other.
"I've always had a natural way to find the back of the net somehow," she said. "My teammates set me up in both sports. It's a lot of teamwork and I'm the finishing touch to a lot of those plays."
Her natural athleticism is what sets her apart, Gmeinder said.
"The word I use is she's overwhelming at times," he said. "She's so strong, so fast, so quick, that's a problem for so many teams. There just aren't many girls like her athletically.
"On top of that, it's not just her work ethic. Honestly, she cares. She cares so much that she's constantly trying to get better, constantly asking what she can do. She's never satisfied. She always wants to stay after practice and shoot, or let's get together on the weekends and shoot."
A five-year varsity soccer player, Smith demonstrated how much she cares after a 5-4 loss to Moorhead Sept. 27.
"Our second loss (of the season), to Moorhead, was just devastating," she said. "I was the last one on the field. I was sitting there in disbelief. I feel like they can see how much I care in my emotions and actions more than what I say to them."
At times this season, the Warriors have moved Smith to a midfield position.
"Scoring is something we need from her," Gmeinder said, "but she's played plenty of midfield in certain games or if we have a lead against a strong team we're comfortable putting her back there because she's so good at winning the ball, moving it to teammates. She's certainly capable of making those around her better."
In the last four years, the Warriors have gone 59-12-8 and have captured three Central Lakes Conference championships. They are 12-3-1 overall this season as they prepare to open the Section 8-2A tournament Thursday at No. 4 Moorhead in the quarterfinals. Last season, Brainerd was 15-2 and the No. 2 seed and lost to No. 7 Elk River in a shootout.
"I think even though losing (stinks) and it's horrible, losing can teach us a lot for the playoffs," Smith said. "You learn a lot from losses. We have to come out 100 percent at the start of the first and second half and play throughout the entire game. You can learn so much from losses. I think it will give us the drive to not lose this game on Thursday."
Other notable efforts:
• Katie Streiff and Julia Wallace, swimming, each won two events and were on two winning relays vs. Fergus Falls. Streiff won the butterfly at the Section 8-2A True Team Meet.
• Meritt Miller, girls cross country, won the girls race at the Crosby-Ironton Invite and broke the school record for the second straight week at the Tech Invite.
• Matt Cherne, boys cross country, won the boys race at the C-I Invite.
• Payge Fitterer, tennis, was runner-up in the Section 8-2A singles tournament and helped Brainerd to a berth in the section team semifinals. She is 21-12 at No. 1 singles this season.
• Kennedy Rusk-Britney Fletcher and Taya Person-Sydney Stock, tennis, finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Section 8-2A doubles tournament.
• Charlie Geraets, football, rushed for 112 yards and two TDs vs. Alexandria.
• Avery Eckman, volleyball, smashed 17 kills vs. Apollo.