Nov. 4, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. -
LeeAndra Smith, a Tucson native, is living her dream as a freshman playing for the University of Arizona Women's Soccer team. Although she's just a freshman, Smith brings an experienced background to the team.
Smith was a team captain all four years at Palo Verde High School in Tucson, playing under coach Jim Mentz. In her sophomore year, Smith was voted a first team all-city selection and Southern Arizona's leading scorer. As a freshman, she was named second team all-city, and led her area in goals scored. In addition to being an all star on the field, Smith was well-decorated as a student-athlete in her career. She was named Hispanic Student-Athlete of the Year, earning Palo Verde's Leadership Award and was a member of the National Honor Society.
Smith started her career in soccer at the age of four, following in the footsteps of her older brother, Anthony. After rising through the ranks, Smith's dream of playing for her hometown quickly became a reality. After high school, she was recruited to play for Arizona as a midfielder, and enjoyed her first collegiate goal this season in the team's matchup against Oklahoma on September 11th.
"I just wanted to do everything I could to help my team," Smith said of her first goal. "We had nothing to lose. We were down 2-0, looking for something we could do when the opportunity presented itself. I saw my chance and I finished it."
Although the 2011 season has not been as successful as the Wildcats had hoped, Smith is confident her team is un-deserving of their record (1-15-2).
"Aside from some basic changes, there's not much to work on," Smith said. "I really feel this season we've just been really unlucky. If I had to name a few things that we need to work on it would be things like finishing and capitalizing when we're presented with opportunities. But I think its more about just gaining that confidence to win and about getting those first few wins under our belt to show ourselves how good we really are."
This season, Smith has played an important role on the team, offering a wealth of experience to the midfield. The team has a strong pool of athletes to work with and is expecting to improve off the mistakes of this season. The younger players like Smith have a strong group of older players to learn from and are eager to learn more about the game.
"So far, it has been tough," Smith said. "The speed of the game is a lot faster than it was in high school and I still have to adjust to it. Everything is a learning process. The older girls have a lot to offer in terms of experience. They're just much more composed on the field, and are generally calmer under pressure, but in all I think we have a great team to work with. I feel like we really play well together, this season has just been an unlucky one."
Before they start thinking about next season, Arizona has arguably its biggest game of the season still left to play. Smith will lead the wildcats to versus in-state rival Arizona State on Friday, November 4th.