In her two years as a starter on the Summit girls soccer team, Jeanene Smith said she and her young teammates have paid their dues and learned many lessons.
The rising junior said having a team without All State-level talent requires everyone to work together and all-out, all the time.
“Everyone has to give 100 percent all the time to get the best results,” Smith said. “I don’t think we have star standout players. We graduated some of those, but we’re more than skilled enough to contribute at this level. A team that is full of people player together is better than having one player that’s a standout.”
The Lady Jaguars lost in the first round of the playoffs last year to Kennedale but the improvement over her freshman year was distinctive, said Smith.
With more district teams having risen in talent, including Lake Ridge’s marked surge, the Lady Jaguars had earned a second-place finish versus the previous year’s fourth place.
“Everyone was on a bit more even footing,” Smith said of the district competition.
With two years of varsity experience under her belt, Smith said the new district will be just as challenging, but with the team chemistry and the understanding of how hard work can overcome standout talent, Smith is confident for another successful run.
“I definitely think we can do better than last year,” Smith said. “My freshman year, we weren’t close and my sophomore year it got better. In a big game against Crowley, we came together and played well from that point on,” she said.
One of the reasons Smith feels she will have a better year is that she’s learned that she needs to control her mental game.
“I need to work more on being a level-headed player and my skills on the ball,” Smith said. “I’m passionate about what I do, but for my teammates, I can’t fly off the handle. In high-stress situations I get so nervous about how important things are. I want to be my best for me and my team.”
Smith has received only one yellow card, but she admits there’s plenty of rude comments made on the field of battle and she has a tendency to join in on occasion.
“I want to work on not letting that get to me and focus on what I love,” she said.
Controlling her aggression is key for her defensive play, a spot on the field she relishes.
“I’ve been at defensive positions since my freshman year and moved around a little on offense,” Smith said, but she feels the defensive side of the field is where her best chance to contribute may lie.
Smith does enjoy a stint or two at forward, where she can make an offensive contribution, she admits.
“Everyone definitely thinks scoring goals is what you want to do,” Smith said. “No one thinks, ‘that was an awesome defensive game.’ You hear about scoring goals.”
Smith said she is on the rotation for shootout kicks and other penalty kicks.
She continues to work on her skills during her time on the Texas Lightning, especially during the summer.
Smith will continue playing with the Lightning right up until the start of the varsity season but looks to improve on her conditioning in order that she can be ready to go for the Lady Jaguars.
“Every new year is kind of scary because you don’t know the new girls coming in, but we’ve got quite a few solid freshmen from last year which helped the team,” she said. “We’re very optimistic.”
With just four seniors, Smith will help take on a leadership role with all the younger players.
“I’ll try to give good advice based on what I’ve learned as I’ve played,” she said.
Sharing her lessons learned will help Summit be a contender once more.