Warriors Athlete of Week: Resilient Smith leads Warriors to win No. 1
Gabe Smith has endured through almost two seasons of losses.
That doesn't count the many defeats during the Brainerd Warriors boys lacrosse team's club program years.
Smith, a senior, played two years on the club team before the Warriors' boys lacrosse team became an official Minnesota State High School League program.
Smith then battled through a winless junior season. Things looked grim for his senior campaign as well.
Fellow senior and captain Jayce Schroeder shipped out early for the military with the Warriors still in search of the program's first win.
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- Sport: Lacrosse
- Position: Attack
- Year: Senior
- Age: 17
- Height: 6-foot-3
- Career highlight: Helping Brainerd lacrosse earn the team's first victory
- Other sports: Basketball, football
- Grade-point average: 3.7
- Favorite class: Creative Foods
- Favorite food: spaghetti
- Favorite movie: "Hancock"
- Favorite TV show: "Stranger Things"
- Favorite website or app: YouTube
- Favorite restaurant: Buffalo Wild Wings
- Future plans: Attend Minnesota State Mankato, may try out for lacrosse team
- Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant
- Parent: Jennifer Broher
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Then it happened.
On a windy afternoon Monday, May 20, in Big Lake, Smith scored four goals from his attacker position and the Warriors secured a 11-10 overtime win over the Hornets for the first ever victory.
But the celebration didn't start right away.
After Jacob Drietz scored in the overtime frame, Smith said he wasn't sure if the game was over or not.
"To be honest, I didn't even really think about it at first," Smith said. "I forget that lacrosse overtime was sudden death. After it went into the net, I waited for a second to make sure we actually won.
"My gear was just flying off of me and I hugged Jacob Drietz because he scored the goal. It was a massive dog pile. It was just a crazy feeling."
Smith said the win was bittersweet because Schroeder wasn't there, but he'll always enjoy the fact he was on the team that collected the program's first win.
"It was a huge relief because Big Lake started to come back and they tied it up to go into overtime," Smith said. "I was just so happy that we pulled it off. I'm not sure how the rest of the season will go, but I'm just glad we got that one because that's what we wanted."
Smith's first goal gave the Warriors a 3-2 edge after one period. He scored again in the second period helping Brainerd to a 5-4 halftime edge.
His third goal came in the third period and then he scored again in the fourth.
"He's big, strong and very athletic," Warriors head coach Adam Extrand said. "He's a leader on the field, for sure. Skill wise, I think he's as good as most of the better players that I've seen throughout this season. He passes well. He catches well. He has a good shot.
"He's a good communicator and I know that he's respected by other seniors. There is a mutual respect between all the captains. He's awesome with the younger kids. I don't think he puts himself above others. He's been very generous with helping me figure out the game. I've gone to him a lot of questions."
Smith scored a goal in Brainerd's loss to Grand Rapids May 14. He tallied three goals in the Warriors loss to St. Cloud May 13.
"My role is definitely to score," Smith said. "I like to think of myself as one of the best at getting assists. I know when people are cutting. So as an attacker it's score first, pass second.
"An attacker has to know how the defense is going to move and what type of move to make to get past the defense. A big thing is knowing the goalie. If a goalie can't defend the low shots, then you definitely want to shoot where the goalie doesn't like it."
Smith said his four goals against Big Lake were set up well by his teammates.
"Big Lake actually had quite a few penalties and we got most of our goals when we were a man up," Smith said. "I think, just our ball movement in general accounted for most of those goals. Two of my goals were off of great assists from my teammates. They were just cutting in, looking for the open guy and I was just always open for them."
The victory pushed Brainerd's record 1-9 on the season. This after going 0-13 last year.
But Smith is happy with his team's progression and doesn't have any regrets about playing lacrosse.
"We've improved a crazy amount," Smith said. "At the beginning of the year, we were just dropping passes and we couldn't shoot. All the new kids didn't even know how to handle their stick. Now, we look like a real lacrosse team.
"It has been pretty frustrating, but most of the kids that are new to it and don't have the skills, I see them getting frustrated and working hard to get better at it. So it hasn't been to hard for me because I know they are working at it and trying to get better at it. I just see it as a good thing."
And Extrand sees Smith as an asset to the future of boys lacrosse in Brainerd.
But for now, both will savvor victory No. 1.
"I was so happy for all the guys who have been doing this for three or four years," Extrand said. "I wanted this experience to be for the kids. It was inevitable. It was going to happen at some point. I'm really happy for the kids, especially for those kids who have become so passionate about this sport."
Other notable performances:
• Macey Peterson, lacrosse, scored three goals against St. Cloud.
• Broc Peterson, baseball, finished 4-4 with a double, triple, three runs and an RBI against Bemidji and finished with a double and an RBI against Duluth East.
• Gavin Metz, boys golf, shot a 3-under 69 at Pebble Lake Golf Club.
• Jordyn Sullivan, softball, went 2-4 with two runs, a stolen base, grand slam and five RBIs against Buffalo and went 4-4 with two doubles and two RBis against Sartell.
• Gabbie Smith, Kayla Deason, Myah Nelson and Brenna Deason, track and field,
broke their own 4x100-meter relay record at the Rocori Quad.