Records falling at KSC

Sami Smith may play coy almost as well as she scores goals for the Keene State College field hockey team.

The forward, who was a four-year starter at Merrimack High School before graduating to college in 2013, has had a senior campaign full of milestones for the Owls. Not that she’d ever let you know it with a little prodding.

With a goal and assist in Tuesday’s 7-1 win over Johnson and Wales (R.I.)., Smith has amassed 75 goals and 26 assists for 176 points over the last four years. She’s now the program’s leading goal and points scorer. Both records that had been in place for 31 years.

"It definitely hasn’t hit me yet," Smith said of the team records. "I’m just taking it all in stride. I’m trying to stay humble and not really dwell on the individual stuff."

That individual stuff is helping the KSC in its quest to win a fourth straight Little East Conference title and earn another NCAA tournament berth, which it has also earned the last three years – including two trips to the Sweet 16.

Smith has been a major factor in the overall success of these Owls (10-3 overall, 6-0 LEC).

As a freshman, she appeared in 24 games (10 starts) and registered 13 goals and eight assists (34 points) on her way to LEC Rookie of the Year honors. Her first career goal came in her first game, a 7-0 win at Western New England.

As a sophomore, she started all 24 games for the Owls – finishing with a team-high 16 goals and adding six assists for 38 points. She recorded her first career hat trick in a 5-0 win over Framingham State and scored six game-winning goals on her way to being named to the LEC All-
Conference second team.

Her junior year was even more productive. The LEC Academic All-Conference athlete played in all 25 games, turning in one of the best offensive seasons in KSC history with 25 goals and six assists for LEC
Offensive Player of the Year honors, a spot on the LEC All-Conference first team, as well as being an NFHCA All-American third team selection.

She had four hat-tricks on the season, and scored KSC’s lone goal in an NCAA second round game against Bowdoin.

This fall has been more of the same.

She became the Owls all-time points leader with a pair of goals, her 11th and 12th on the season, in a 6-1 conference win over Western Connecticut State on Sept. 17. With 155 points at the time, Smith surpassed KSC Hall of Famer Kay Mulcahy (70 goals, 12 assists), who played from 1982-85.

Smith tied Mulcahy’s goal-scoring mark five days later, with two more, her 15th and 16th on the season, in a 3-2 non-conference loss to Trinity (conn.) College on Sept. 22.

The former Tomahawks great claimed the top spot in goals scored on Sept. 24, scoring her 71st career goal with four minutes to play in a 3-1 conference win over Westfield State University. Smith also personally outshot Westfield State 17-12, while KSC piled up 34 shots as a team.

To think her main focus growing up was playing basketball in college. She didn’t know anything about the sport of field hockey until the seventh grade, despite her mom, Marion, being a high school standout in Wilmington, Mass. She has no qualms outing her father, Fred, as being athletically challenged. However, like her mom, Smith’s younger sister, Casi, is no slouch on the field. She’s a junior defender for the Owls.

"Honestly, it’s weird to look back on all I’ve accomplished in field hockey," Smith said. "I was playing basketball – AAU, Suburban League, middle school – since first grade. I was all about basketball.

"My middle school coach, Jill Silano, got me into field hockey. It was something new for me. Unlike basketball I was struggling at first and that made me more determined to stick with it and get better. I guess it was just my competitive nature pushing me to be the best I could at something I wasn’t so good at to start."

The rest is history.

Smith’s 21 goals (six assists, 48 points) through 13 games has her on pace for 32 this season, which would give her the single-season goals record. The current record of 30 was set by Tanya Strong in 2003.

"Honestly, I could not have done anything without my teammates and friends over these last four years," Smith said. "That’s who I give credit to. Without them, there’s no way I’d have as many points or goals as I do. I can’t thank them or my coaching staff enough."

Notes

The North Atlantic Conference tabbed Merrimack native Jarrod Ottman with Men’s Cross Country Rookie of the Week for three consecutive weeks earlier this fall. The Thomas College (Waterville, Maine) freshman crossed the finish line third overall and first for the Terriers with a time of 27:25 in the 8K Johnson State Invitational on Sept. 17. Ottman finished 19 seconds behind winner Robbie Hollis of the University of Maine at Farmington and one second behind second place finisher Lukas Patrizio of Clarkson University.

Saint Michael’s College women’s cross country first-year runner Abby French, of Nashua (Academy of Notre Dame), was named to the Northeast-10 Conference Weekly Honor Roll for the week ending on Sept. 17, landing the accolade for the second time.

Plymouth State University sophomore Mitch Banuskevich, of Milford, was named to the MASCAC Weekly Honor Roll on Sept. 19. He played a pivotal role in PSU’s 27-19 triumph over Western Connecticut State University in the 2016 conference opener. A 5-11, 170-pound running back, Banuskevich accumulated 126 yards from scrimmage to backbone the Panthers’ offense. He gained 78 yards on 15 carries (5.2 average) and caught three passes for 48 yards (16.0 average).