Smith Moving Swiftly on the Fast Track for Valley Girls’ Soccer
Ella Smith took right to the sport of soccer ever since she first laced up her cleats in her formative grade school years, and her efforts and desires to succeed have parlayed the way to her being a sound and speedy second-year sensation.
The Valley Regional High School sophomore started her journey towards becoming a pitch prodigy in second grade and stuck with it, in addition to partaking in basketball, softball, and tennis during that time. With Ella up front on offense at the forward position, she has helped the Warriors race out to a spry 4-1 start with a youthful bunch that has fired 18 goals through the first five contests of 2023.
“I just love the camaraderie of the sport, plus the fast pace of play with soccer. I have just never gotten tired of the sport; it is so much fun to play,” says Ella. “One thing that really helped my success with soccer is joining a travel team. I really notice I improved a lot in my skills, so the travel soccer has helped me a lot. [Valley girls’ soccer Head Coach] Lloyd Warren has helped me a lot. I learned some good techniques from him, and he is a really great coach. My twin sister [Hannah] has helped, because we really push each other on the team, and she is a great teammate.”
Warren notes that Ella has worked quite diligently to finally earn her minutes and moments at the top of Valley’s depth chart. Now on that varsity turf, she attacks with a vibrant energy and generates offense with her fearlessness near the net.
“Ella has this year stepped up into a much bigger role on the varsity roster. She was a squad player last year who got some varsity opportunities to help prepare her for the bigger role she was going to take up with the team going forward. Now, Ella is a vital player in how we wish to play this year,” says Warren. “Ella is a player that brings energy into the game. She further improved her ability to match her unrivaled pace with better technical ability with the ball, which is creating many more opportunities in front of goal. The team is recognizing these strengths and is finding ways to get the ball in dangerous areas which Ella can attack, which has helped us to score a lot more goals already this season.”
He adds that a lot of Ella’s success has been fueled by the backing of her teammates, enabling a young Warriors’ squad to charge up the league standings.
“Ella is supported by some great teammates, including her sister Hannah,” says Warren. “This has given Valley a well-balanced team, which even though is very young, is able to compete with anyone in the Shoreline Conference.”
As a focal point of the offense, Ella aims to produce points in any capacity possible. She explains that she loves winning footraces to the ball that jettison those strikes to the net.
“I just love scoring as a forward,” Ella says. “I love running up the side of the field and just running to the ball in general. I love having that opportunity to score. When I score a goal with the ball out there, it just makes me feel good.”
Whether it be facilitating the ball with her foot, or bending it in just the right spot to put in behind any opposing netminder in the Shoreline Conference, Ella has noticed marked improvements with her offensive skill set. Yet conversely, she knows it will not always be smooth sailing on the turf, and that is where the true reveal of an athlete’s character comes forth.
“I think I have improved on my passing abilities and shooting the ball,” Ella says. “Mentally, I have learned how to just relax more when something is going wrong; you just have to move onto the next thing. I have also learned to just stay positive and give my teammates positive comments.”
Synergy starts from the top when it comes to the grand opening of the Warriors’ 2023 campaign and trek towards the top of the league. Ella mentions that the squad captains have really helped provide guidance in all movements around the program–even when it comes to decision making before maneuvers are made.
“The biggest key for our start this year has been our captains,” says Ella. “They have really helped with pushing us and communicating on the field and what to do before a pass is even made. I really have to thank those captains because they have helped us with our skills and really put this team together.”
Regardless of how the rest of Valley’s season this fall pans out, Ella is sticking with the squad for her future upperclassmen years as a junior and senior. Additionally in preparing herself for the future, she has unearthed the personal benefits of being part of a club with common goals.
“For the rest of my years at Valley, I will play soccer, and I am more about the team’s success, and I hope we are successful, and I hope to be successful in my soccer career, too,” says Ella. “I have learned through soccer to be competitive and how to lose, but how to come back from a loss. I also learned that in order to be a part of a team, you really have to be a part of it and know it is not about you.”