It was the big 5, 0 for Gabbie Smith last week.
Smith is far from being over the hill, however, as the 50 refers to the number of career goals the Brainerd Warriors senior has scored for the girls soccer team.
The monumental goal came in a 6-0 Central Lakes Conference victory over Alexandria Thursday, Sept. 19.
After Smith assisted on a Lexi McElfresh goal, the forward tallied No. 50 off an assist from Josie Kramer. Smith added another assist and another goal to her totals.
“It’s crazy,” Smith said. “It’s a good feeling. I didn’t even know I was close and then my coach told me. He told me after the game. I had no clue.”
The fact that Warrior head coach Grant Gmeinder knew was a bit of luck, too.
“I knew she was close, but luckily we checked on the bus on the way to Alexandria otherwise we wouldn’t have known,” he said. “It was just perfect. She scored twice that game. The 50th goal was on a break away -- a pretty classic Gabbie Smith goal -- just run past everybody.”
Gmeinder said Smith’s speed is a key to her scoring consistency this season as witnessed by her two goals and assist in the Warriors 4-1 win over Bemidji Saturday, Sept. 21.
“I think it’s almost hard to understand without watching it because she is so much faster than the majority of kids that play,” Gminder said. “There are fast kids, and we have a lot of fast kids on our team, but she is just another level of fast. It’s a weapon she has that is kind of unlike anybody else.”
Smith registered two goals and three assists in Brainerd’s 6-1 blowout of Fergus Falls Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Teammate Josie Kramer benefited on two of those assists and Emma Sheflo the other.
“One of my biggest personal goals was to have as many assists as goals,” Smith said. “I like that feeling just as much as scoring.”
Smith has never been shy about sharing the scoring chances. She’s the school record holder with 41 career assists. Because of Smith’s scoring prowess, Kramer is in the hunt to surpass Smith on that list.
“Gabbie is truly an all-around player,” Gmeinder said. “I think her and Josie have such a great connection that they don’t really care who scores and who assists. We saw that in Bemidji. Gabbie had a breakaway five minutes into the game and she absolutely could have taken the shot, but instead just slid it over to Josie and Josie had a wide open goal to herself and just tapped it in.
“I think that’s another area that she’s really improved on. She’s not worrying about scoring. She’s worried about making the right play. Often times the right play is just her putting the ball in the back of the net of course, but sometimes it’s setting the other teammate up and she’s been just as willing to do that.”
Smith added two more goals and two more assists Tuesday, Sept. 24, as Brainerd dominated Rocori 10-0. She is sitting at 23goals and 12 assists this season. For her career she has 54 goals and 41 assists.
What’s different this season is Smith’s ability to finish so often. Gmeinder has a theory.
“Last year, she scored 16 goals and she was nearly as fast last year as she is this year,” Gmeinder said. “I think the big change in her, and it probably comes with age and experience, but she is just so calm around the goal. Obviously, she gets a lot of chances. She gets a lot of breakaways. She is typically farther away from the other team than most kids, but she’s just so calm when the goalies come out. The game has clearly slowed down for her and she’s able to make simple plays.”
Smith said her teammates setting her up is also a factor in her scoring. That and the continuity and comfort level between all the girls. Smith said playing together since they were young and in many different sports has helped the teamwork develop.
It’s also prevented teams from focusing so much on Smith. She is still a marked player every time she steps onto the field, though.
“Yes, for sure,” Smith said. “It can get pretty frustrating, but I have to not let it get to me. We tried switching positions to see if that would create more opportunities for my teammates to make them more open and see how they would react to me. If I get taken out of a play, we have so many other players that can score or make plays.”
Smith tallied two goals and an assist against Willmar Sept. 12. She added two assists and a goal in a 3-1 win over Sauk Rapids.
In Smith’s four years on the varsity, Brainerd has gone 38-1-1 against conference opponents.
“She is such a great role model and leader,” Gmeinder said. “I just had a parent talk to me about our senior group and just how welcoming they are and how they are willing to share their experience with the younger kids. I think when you have a kid like Gabbie on your team their play is elevated because they know she’s on their team and they’re comfortable. There is kind of this belief that we can accomplish anything.”
Other notable performances
Josie Kramer, girls soccer, finished with two goals and two assists against Fergus Falls.
Jack Thorkelson, boys soccer, finished with two goals and an assist against Fergus Falls and two goals and an assist against Alexandria and scored a game-tying goal against Bemidji.
Jenna Host, swimming and diving, won the 200- and 500-yard freestyles and was part of two winning relays against Alexandria.
Avery Eckman, volleyball, finished with 19 kills, 23 digs and four blocks against Alexandria and 44 kills, 43 digs and six ace serves at the Duluth Tournament.
Izzy Olson, swimming and diving, scored a 396.6 to win the diving portion of the West Fargo Invite.
Sport: Girls soccer
Career highlight: Playing in the Class 2A State Girls Hockey Championship last season
Other sports: Girls hockey, track and field
Favorite class: Math
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite movie: “Miracle”
Favorite website or app: Snapchat
Favorite restaurant: Panera Bread
Future plans: Attend Bemidji State University and play hockey
Favorite athlete: Sidney Crosby
Parents: Chris and Tom Smith