Brooke Smith is Overlooked No More, Wins Midwest Player of the Year

Brook Smith finished her senior season with 118 points on 79 goals and 39 assists.


Going into this season, Brooke Smith was a bit overshadowed by some of her peers within a senior class at Upper Arlington (Ohio) that was as talented as any in the Midwest.

By her junior season in 2017, Smith had carved out a niche of being a reliable goal-scorer and playmaker, scoring 26 goals and adding 21 assists. Yet, she was Upper Arlington’s fourth-highest returning scorer, behind Lauren Farber, Megan Kozar and Brooke’s twin sister Brenna Smith.

But with a few tweaks to coach Wendy Pinta’s offensive attack, Brooke Smith’s production came alive in 2018. Smith had a team-leading 79 goals and led the squad with 118 points after adding in 39 assists.

“We made some changes to the offense and how we were running it, and it brought the ball through her hands more often just because we were more comfortable with her,” Pinta said. “She was not only a great scorer, but she was reading her teammates well and she was one of our leading assist makers. I think the game opened up for her because of what her strengths were and [how we] played to them.”

Smith played a key role in leading Upper Arlington to a perfect 24-0 record, an Ohio Division I state title and a No. 1 ranking in the US Lacrosse Midwest region. She is the Brine/US Lacrosse Midwest Girls’ Player of the Year.

It was a memorable finish to an impressive career.

“We had really good chemistry,” Smith said about her classmates. “Me and my sister player well together and look for each other. Lauren Farber won most of the draws, and our defense played very well.”

Smith and Upper Arlington’s senior class graduates with four state titles. The Golden Bears only lost four games over the course of four years.

Her final game at Upper Arlington took on special meaning, as Smith and her fellow classmates attempted to seal that fourth title. In the state final against New Albany (Ohio), Smith stepped up, leading the team with four goals in an 11-5 win.

“Going into [the state championship], I had so many nerves,” Smith said. “I just focused on this being the last game playing with my teammates and my twin sister. The whole atmosphere, and we had so many fans there cheering for us, I was zoned in. It still gives me chills thinking about it. It was definitely one of my favorite memories.”

In big games like the state final, Smith just seemed to have a knack for scoring goals.

Top players step up when it matters most, and Smith certainly fits that bill.

“Brooke plays big in big games,” Pinta said. “She is able to pick apart, especially a crease defender and a goalie, and capitalize and open up plays for herself, and that is what happened in the state championship game. … I have never seen a high school player make some of the catches she made. I kept saying, ‘She is not seven feet tall. Why are we throwing these passes to her?’”

When not playing lacrosse, Smith was a member of Upper Arlington’s soccer squad. She credits soccer with helping her keep in great shape for lacrosse.

The two sports took up most of her free time, she said, but yet Smith still found time to do other important things. She was the Central Ohio nominee for US Lacrosse’s Jackie Pitts Award, which recognizes a senior player in each area who goes above and beyond in service to her team, school and community.

Now, as she transitions to college, she will shift her focus almost completely toward academics. She is going to Miami University in Ohio to study biology with the hopes of going into medicine; however, Miami does not have a varsity lacrosse program, so she’ll play for the school’s club team.

Smith leaves high school as one of the top players to wear a lacrosse uniform at Upper Arlington. Pinta has coached eight state championship teams at Upper Arlington and said that Smith led the program’s best attack during that time.

“She was definitely an emotional leader,” Pinta said. “I think this is the best team Arlington has seen in all the years I have coached.”

BRINE/US LACROSSE
MIDWEST GIRLS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR

BROOKE SMITH

School: Upper Arlington (Ohio)

Year: Senior

Position: Attacker

Stats: 79 goals, 39 assists

Coach Wendy Pinta: “She was our chapter’s recipient of the (US Lacrosse) Jackie Pitts award for her service and leadership in lacrosse. She has participated in virtually every single Upper Arlington youth lacrosse camp or clinic ever put on. She ran her own winter camp for elementary students. She is just one of those kids who like to give back to the sport and a great ambassador of the game.”

Also considered: Riley Dolan, Loyola Academy (Ill.); Lucy Murray, New Trier (Ill.); Brooklyn Neumen, Rockford (Mich.)







NIKE/US LACROSSE
MIDWEST GIRLS’ TOP 10

SEASON REWIND

1. Upper Arlington (Ohio), 24-0

The Golden Bears earned their fourth straight Ohio Division I title after defeating New Albany (Ohio) 11-5 in the state final on June 2. Upper Arlington’s season also was highlighted by a win over New Trier (Ill.) on March 24. Brooke Smith led the Bears with 79 goals and 39 assists this season, while Lauren Farber had 66 goals and 17 assists.

2. Rockford (Mich.), 19-2

The Rams won a sixth straight state title with a 25-5 win over Brighton (Mich.) on June 9. Brooklyn Neumen led Rockford with 77 goals, 31 assists and 65 groundballs, while teammate MeKenzie Vander Molen added 54 goals, 31 assists and 34 groundballs.

3. Hinsdale Central (Ill.), 18-5

The upset-minded Red Devils stunned Loyola Academy (Ill.) and New Trier (Ill.) en route to a state title. Lally Johnson had 47 goals and 47 assists to lead Hinsdale Central in total points for the season, while Jenna Collignon had a team-high 57 goals.

4. Loyola Academy (Ill.), 22-4

The Ramblers fell short of winning their 10th state title in a row after falling in the semifinals to Hinsdale Central (Ill.) on June 1, but they bounced back to beat Naperville North (Ill.) in the consolation game on June 2 to finish third. Loyola’s regular season was highlighted by wins over Rockford (Mich.), Eden Prairie (Minn.) and New Trier (Ill.). Riley Dolan led the squad with 65 goals and 22 assists.

5. New Trier (Ill.), 20-4

After advancing to the state final, the Trevians fell to Hinsdale Central (Ill.) on June 2 to finish as Illinois runners up. New Trier was led by Dartmouth recruit Lucy Murray, who finished the season with 83 goals and 52 assists.

6. Carmel (Ind.), 24-2

The Greyhounds won Indiana’s state title with a 13-6 win over Cathedral (Ind.) on June 2. Kelly Csenar led Carmel with 104 goals this season.

7. New Albany (Ohio), 21-2

The Eagles lost to Upper Arlington 11-5 in the state final on June 2. Emily Rezabek, an Ohio State recruit, was the team’s leading goal scorer with 65 tallies.

8. Cathedral (Ind.), 18-4

The Irish were unable to defend their 2017 state title, losing to Carmel (Ind.), 13-6, in the final June 2. Katherine Burnside had a state-leading 105 goals for the season.

9. Apple Valley (Minn.), 18-1

The Eagles concluded the 2018 campaign with an 11-10 win over three-time defending champion Eden Prairie (Minn.) on June 16 to claim their first state title and become just the third team to win a title since lacrosse became a state-sponsored sport in 2007. Midfielder Reagan Roelofs had a team-leading 72 goals and 49 assists, while fellow midfielder Molly Moynihan contributed 60 tallies and 48 helpers. 

10. MICDS (Mo.), 19-2

The Rams won their fifth state title in six years on May 26, defeating Marquette 20-7. Mollie Schmid led MICDS with 66 goals and 45 assists.

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