Royals' Smith Signs to Play Soccer at VCU
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Feb 11, 2013, 12:26
Prince George High School senior Dallas Smith (center) signs a National Letter of Intent signifying her commitment to play soccer at Virginia Commonwealth University on Wednesday. She is flanked by her mother, Becky Smith, and father, Thomas Richard Smith, Jr (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
PRINCE GEORGE – Virginia State Cup champion. Three-time All-Central District performer. Midfield maestro. NCAA Division I signee.
All of the above are fitting descriptors of Prince George High School soccer standout Dallas Smith. But the senior center midfielder said she hopes to be remembered as a team player rather than for her individual accolades.
“This team means so much to me,” she said.
It should come as little surprise, therefore, that Smith sifted through her handful of scholarship offers in search of a school capable of filling the sizable void she’ll be left with when her high school career comes to an end this spring.
She found one in Richmond.
Surrounded by her parents, coaches and teammates, Smith solidified her commitment to play at Virginia Commonwealth University by signing a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday in the Prince George High School library.
She selected VCU from a stack of college suitors that also included William & Mary, James Madison, Pittsburgh, Richmond and Radford.
“I chose VCU because I was really looking for a family atmosphere,” Smith said. “When I went there, the coaches were so much more welcoming than everywhere else I went. The team was welcoming, too, and it just made me feel like I was supposed to go there.”
The family ambiance is not a substitute for competitive soccer. Last season, the Rams posted a 12-5-5 record and reached the Atlantic 10 championship game in their first year in the conference.
Co-head coaches Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak and Tim Sahaydak boast boatloads of experience between them. Tiffany won a World Cup with the United States Women’s National team while Tim, her husband, played professionally for several Major League Soccer teams.
“It’s going to be awesome to have the privilege to be coached by [them],” Smith said.
Though she anchors the Royals’ midfield, Smith said she has discussed making the transition to forward with the Rams coaching staff. Regardless of position, she hopes to contribute in some capacity as a true freshman.
“I hope that I can come in and bring something to the table,” Smith said. “I don’t know if I’ll start my freshman year, but hopefully I can help the team out somehow.”
Prince George coach Kendell Warren knows first hand the impact Smith can have on a game. He pointed to Smith’s wide-ranging contributions in last year’s postseason clash with Matoaca as a prime example. Smith opened the scoring with a free kick goal and dictated the play in signature style. Warren said she “singlehandedly took it to” the Warriors, leading the Royals to a 4-2 victory in the district tournament semifinal.
In three years with the varsity team, Smith has amassed 37 goals and 28 assists. It’s that offensive ingenuity, Warren said, that makes Smith special.
“Dallas is a very creative type of player,” Warren said. “She’s not really restricted in what exactly we ask her to do because she can turn a game 180 degrees very quickly. She can do some spectacular things.”
Smith plays year-round with her Richmond Kickers travel team. That squad won the Virginia State Cup in 2009 and prevailed in its division of the renowned Disney Showcase in December. Despite her ever-growing trophy collection, there’s one prize that has eluded Smith and her high school teammates.
The Royals have not won a district regular-season or tournament title in Warren’s 15-year tenure. Perennial powerhouse Thomas Dale has swept those honors, but Warren said Smith’s commitment could provide the springboard his team needs to finally get over the hump.
“This could be a special year for her and for the team, depending on how they respond to a little notoriety,” Warren said. “This is unique. We haven’t had a major college Division I girl since I think 1997.”