Senior Sammy Smith, an Eagle in waiting, wants to finish her senior season with a “bang.”
She was almost a Wildcat, but then the Eagles came soaring in.
Whitman-Hanson Regional High girls’ soccer senior captain and back Sammy Smith was committed to the University of New Hampshire for soccer — a decision she made last year — until a roster error paved the way for her “dream school” to come calling.
“For my club — the U-18 team that I play on — I’m like the youngest player on that team, so I qualify to play with the U-17 team and everyone on that team is good,” Smith explained. “They want to go to college and they’re seriously looking into college soccer.
“So, I played with them (the U-17 team) in one tournament and on the roster — the manager of that team — didn’t have me committed to UNH. So, all the coaches who came to that game were like ‘Who’s this? She’s not committed? I thought she was committed to UNH.’’’
So, the phone calls began as coaches tried to lure the two-time Patriot League All-Star and reigning first-team EMass selection onto their respective campus.
“One of the coaches at my club was like ‘All these colleges are contacting you, do you want to look into them?’’’ Smith recalled.
Smith obliged and she’s happy she did because Boston College was one of the them.
“In the end, BC has always been my dream school,” said Smith, who committed there in June. “I’m so happy to be able to play there next year.”
Smith might not even be the happiest one in her family about the decision.
“My parents are happy,” she said. “My parents are ecstatic. They didn’t mind the UNH — like two hours away — but right down the road, 40 minutes to BC, and plus my mom went there.”
W-H girls’ soccer head coach Dave Floeck said Smith, who has started for him since she was a freshman, is one of the most athletic girls he’s ever coached.
“She’s super quick and everything else, but her ability to change directions — while being full speed when most kids can’t do that, they have to take an extra step — gives her the advantage,” the 23rd-year head coach said.
“She is tremendous in tight spaces and if she gets in open space, she covers 60 to 70 yards dribbling the ball faster than people can do it without a ball. She’s just a supreme talent and that’s why BC snatched her.”
Panthers senior goalkeeper Skylar Kuzmich said having a player on the field of Smith’s caliber — someone who can excel at multiple positions and on both ends of the pitch — is an immense asset.
“Sam is a great player and it’s funny because she already does play offense when she’s on defense because she dribbles through everyone and then goes up field, but with her there, I feel great, but without her [at defender] we’re going to score goals,” Kuzmich said.
Smith said she doesn’t let the fact that she’s going to a top collegiate women’s soccer school alter the way she goes about her business.
“I try to get touches on the ball every single day,” Smith said. “There’s no moment where I’m not thinking about soccer. I watch soccer, I play it every single day, but I try to not let it get to my head. I don’t want to have a big head, like, ‘Hey, I’m going to BC,’ I don’t let it get to me. I play like a normal player.”
Smith’s commitment adds to a long list of Panthers girls’ soccer players to head to the Division 1 ranks. Lauren Bonavita and Taylor Kofton, both of whom graduated last spring, are in their freshman campaigns at UMass Amherst and Boston University, respectively.
For Smith, the goal this season is to end it and her Panthers soccer career with a “big bang.”
“Oh, I want to win a state championship,” she said.