Women’s lacrosse freshman goalkeeper Emi Smith had her first NCAA start Saturday in the team’s 13-12 overtime exhibition win against Penn.
Coach Missy Doherty named Smith starting goalkeeper earlier this month after a tough preseason battle with senior keeper Ayla Halus.
“I was really excited about [Smith’s performance]. She has continued to get better and better all year, and she has just played like a solid goalkeeper in the cage,” Doherty said. “She has made the saves that she should, and she has backed up the D well, and I hope it gave her a lot of confidence going into the season.”
Smith came into the game confident in the support she would receive from her team to keep her going in her first collegiate start.
“It was nerve-racking, but I knew that my whole entire team was behind me, and supporting me the entire way through,” Smith said. “They’re just such a great team to be a part of. I wouldn’t have started without them. They gave me the confidence to build up my energy, so I could play for them and with them like one team.”
Halus started the second half to give her experience in a game setting, but Smith returned for overtime play.
"[Smith] played pretty consistently all game, so I think it is kind of hard to go out, and then come back in [overtime], but she responded well," Doherty said.
Smith said she was confident going into overtime because of her ability to perform well in pressured situations.
“I love pressure because it just gets the butterflies in the stomach going—I just love it,” she added. “I just wanted to do the best that I could. I just wanted to stand behind my team and put forth my best effort that I had and use all of my energy.”
If Smith continues to start, she will face many older, experienced opponents head on.
“That [will] just motivate me further to do well, and say, 'Hey, I’m a freshman. If I can stuff a senior or a junior, that’s awesome,' ” Smith said.