By Matt Jenkins
---- — First-year Pingree girls lacrosse coach Sam Taylor was so confident in freshman Mollie Smith’s ability this spring that she used her anywhere on the field.
In the future, lacrosse could take Smith anywhere she’d like.
Smith, now a rising sophomore from Marblehead, is finishing up a tremendous summer that included a spot in the Under-16 Uncommitted game at the Under Armour All-American games last month at Towson University in Maryland.
Smith went through a rigorous tryout process and ended up as one of only five players from the Northeast selected in her age group.
The success hardly came as a surprise to Taylor, who witnessed Smith’s talent, athleticism, and work ethic first-hand this spring. Even though Smith was just a freshman on a senior-laden team, there was no way Taylor could keep her off the field.
“The Pingree team had eight seniors and seven were on the defensive end. She was first off the bench and played a ton. She’s a super scrappy and athletic kid that every coach wants to have on their team,” Taylor said. “She came in as a defender, I told her we needed her at middie, and she played some attack with some injuries. Whatever we told her to do, she did. She’s a great kid to have and an amazing player.”
Smith, who turns 16 in September, is confident in her ability, but wasn’t sure she’d be good enough to make it through the tryout.
She traveled to Connecticut with two friends for the tryout. She went through group sessions in the morning and played games in the afternoon with coaches watching carefully. From there, the top 50 players were selected, split into teams, then played for another 45 minutes with the best players chosen for the Under Armour All-American games.
“I felt good going into it, confident in my ability, but it was a huge honor and a great surprise to be picked for the top 50 let alone the 2016 Uncommitted team,” Smith said. “At the tryout that was more of what I was used to. I’ve played against all those girls before. I was kind of used to that level, it was more my comfort zone. In Maryland, it was an incredible experience. I got to play with the best lacrosse players in my age group. The level of play was extremely high and the coaches felt I belonged. That was a huge honor.”
Smith’s White team ended up losing to the Red team, but that didn’t spoil the experience.
An event like this could be a springboard for a player of Smith’s ability. She’s full of potential and she doesn’t have much experience with the sport.
Even though both of Smith’s parents played in college — mom Claire at Princeton and dad Christopher at Trinity — she has spent most of her youth focusing on soccer. She didn’t pick up lacrosse until the seventh grade.
Smith’s family moved to Colorado when she was in the second grade and while she was there she played year-round competitive soccer.
They returned to Marblehead when she was in the seventh grade and that’s when she started lacrosse.
Lacrosse remains relatively new to Smith, and she’s still learning about the game and her place in it.
“My natural position is a defender. I’ve been transitioning to D wing, right D wing or low defender because I do like to run,” Smith said. “I feel comfortable running the whole game down the field.
“Both my parents played in college and I had known about the sport, but I played (soccer) at a nationally ranked club level in Colorado and going from that level to lacrosse, where I didn’t know what I was doing. It was rocky but I had great teammates and role models who were in the eighth grade and I fell in love with the game.”
In addition to being athletic, Smith is a standout in the classroom.
She also played varsity soccer at Pingree last fall and was a varsity swimmer. She’s also a Pingree Scholar, which is a scholarship given to two members of each incoming class based on their work in the classroom, in the community, and in extra-curricular activities.
“She definitely has a really big goal of playing Division 1 lacrosse and she’s already getting recruited by a lot of Div. 1 schools, a lot of Ivy League schools,” Taylor said. “That would be perfect for her because she’s so smart.”
Smith is aiming high for college and will keep her eyes on the future without overlooking everything that’s right in front of her.
She’s still very excited about what can be accomplished at Pingree.
“Expectations are set extremely high. We had an amazing season with a brand new coach, but she couldn’t be more perfect for Pingree and our lacrosse team,” Smith said. “We had an awesome season and it’s so sad that we’re missing a lot of seniors because we were so close to them, but we’re excited to see the juniors step up and be the leaders I know they can be. This is going to be a great season. I’m so excited for the spring already.”