Ashburn, VA (November 7, 2016) – Broad Run Alumni and Eastern Kentucky senior Cassie Smith is a name etched all over the Eastern Kentucky University soccer program’s record book.
The lightning-quick forward from Ashburn, Virginia holds the career records for goals (21) and points (48), and she is tied for second on the career assists list (six).
Only two active Ohio Valley Conference players – Southeast Missouri’s Natasha Minor (26) and Austin Peay’s Gina Fabbro (25) – have scored more goals in their careers.
She has made a business out of terrorizing OVC opponents. Of her 21 career goals, 13 have come at the expense of league foes.
Smith is fast, agile, dynamic and savvy – the quintessential striker.
However, one thing has eluded her during her illustrious, and record-shattering, Colonel career … recognition.
Smith has never been voted to an All-OVC team, first or second. She has played over 40 weeks of collegiate soccer without being named OVC Offensive Player of the Week.
Arguably the greatest offensive player in the history of EKU soccer, Smith has nearly reached the end of her career without a single, significant accolade.
There are a few theories at play.
One is that – until this year – Smith had not been a part of a great deal of team success at EKU.
Smith, along with fellow senior Mikayla Brillon, is one of only two Colonels to link all four eras of EKU soccer.
She was recruited by Lindsay Basalyga, who was the head coach of the program at its inception in 2005. However, by the time Smith signed in early 2013, Basalyga had taken the head job at Bowling Green State.
“I actually signed with no coaching staff,” Smith remembered, laughing.
Smith played for two different coaches over her first three seasons, during which time the Colonels won only 13 games and never qualified for the OVC Tournament
Yet, in spite of all the tumult and adversity, Smith just kept scoring goals …
Another theory concerns Smith’s demure personality. She simply does not draw a lot of attention to herself.
From the flashy (Cristiano Ronaldo) to the brash (Clint Dempsey), goal scorers typically attract the spotlight. Smith breaks that mold.
“I’m not a very vocal person, per se …” she admitted.
“Cassie is more of a “set the example” type of a leader, rather than a vocal one,” first-year head coach Nick Flohre said.
Smith is soft-spoken, friendly and affable.
“I think the players respect her so much,” Flohre said. “She supports and gets along with everyone. You’ll see her having a conversation with the freshmen just as often as you’ll see her interacting with the older players.”
Flohre, however, warns not to mistake Smith’s tranquil demeanor for weakness.
“Cassie is a competitor,” he said. “She doesn’t like to say when she isn’t feeling well because she wants to play. I don’t think she’s been 100% since the first couple weeks of the season, but she still fights through nagging injuries and doesn’t dwell on them. She’ll just tell you she feels fine and goes right back to training.”
One statistic that flies under the radar with Smith is that she has never missed a game in her Colonel career. She has played in all 73 EKU games since the start of the 2013 season.
In spite of the grind, and the nagging injuries prevalent in a physical sport like soccer, Smith just keeps playing, and keeps scoring goals.
This year, Smith is forcing OVC voters to take notice. At the end of the regular season, she ranks second in the league in goals (five) and leads the league in game-winning goals (three) during OVC play.
Now in the finale of her stellar career, Smith has elevated her game one last time … and it has elevated EKU in the process.
The Colonels were picked to finish 10th out of 11 OVC teams at the beginning of the season. Last Thursday night, they proved all the doubters wrong by securing a share of the program’s first-ever OVC regular season title.
On Friday, Smith – one of the most feared scorers in the league over the last four years – will finally get a chance to put her skills on display at the OVC Tournament.
“It’s awesome,” Smith said. “It’s a good way to go out … winning a ring and making it to the tournament.”
“For a player to contribute so much to this program, you want them to be able to compete for an OVC Tournament Championship,” Flohre added. “This goes for Mikayla Brillon as well. Both Cassie and Mikayla deserve to have a chance to win a trophy and, fortunately, they will get that chance this season.”
Maybe, with the success EKU has had this season, Smith will finally receive the recognition that has eluded her for so many years.
“I’ve never really thought about it all that much, just because I’ve been too focused on trying to win games and make it to the tournament,” Smith said. “There’s just so many other things, I think, that are more important than awards.”
Then she stopped … and smiled.
“… but it would be nice.”
To view the original article on EKUSports.com click here.