Photo by Mykah Heaton
Going into her final season at UVU, Tori Smith had a very simple approach when it came to goals she wanted to accomplish on the field.
“Leave everything out on the field because you never know what’s going to happen,” Smith said. “I want my last year of soccer to be the best one.”
This no-regrets style approach to her season is being reflected as Smith leads the team in minutes played, allowing her to maximize her chances at making an impact on the field.
Smith said the coaches ask her to be a leader on the field, and knowing the confidence her coaches have in her, she feels the need to be an example during the match. Having the most time on the field has helped her learn the playing style of her teammates, building team chemistry to help create more chances during the game.
This boost in playing time has paid dividends for Smith and the Wolverines. She and teammate Breanna DeWaal lead the team and are tied for first in the WAC in assists. Smith is also active in attacking the opposing goal herself, being in the top ten in the WAC in number of shots. She has had multiple performances this season that have had head coach Chris Lemay singing praises. In a 3-0 victory against conference foe Seattle, Smith scored a goal and had two assists on her way to being named WAC offensive player of the week.
“Tori has been one of our best all season long,” Lemay said. “I think she’s a special player.”
Big offseason news came for Smith and UVU when Lemay stepped in after former head coach Brent Anderson departed for BYU. Going into her senior season, Smith had to make an adjustment to a coaching change. However, she said the adjustment to Lemay was a good one. She likes the new style of play Lemay has brought to the team.
“Having [Lemay] put so much confidence in me really helped my game and helped me improve. It feels great,” Smith said. “I just want to do everything I can to keep that confidence high.”
On UVU’s roster, Smith is listed as a forward. However, this season Smith has been playing more in the midfield. It’s the first time she has ever taken on that role. Being a very team-oriented player, Smith said she will try to do her best either way for the team. Now that conference play has started, this is the time for her and the Wolverines to have their best performances.
“I think now we’re getting into our stride,” Smith said. “I think we’ll see a lot more combination play in the midfield, but also, I love connecting with the forwards out wide. I love this team. I’m ready to get more points and goals on the board for my team so that we can win the WAC.”
The conference is wide open this year, and after a disappointing end to last season after being champions in 2015, the team will be relying on Smith to lead by example in UVU’s quest to regain the title.