Hard Work Paying Off for Former Arundel Soccer Player
After playing a secondary scoring role during her first three seasons at George Washington University, Arundel grad Sierra Smidinger has established herself as the Colonials' top goal scorer as a senior.
Feeling like her team was on the cusp of a potentially special season, George Washington University women’s soccer coach Tanya Vogel decided to set up meetings with each of her players towards the end of the spring, during which she explained her goals, plans and expectations for each individual player.
But while she told some players that they would play key roles in the Colonials’ defense and others that they would be relied on to be facilitators for the team’s offense, Vogel’s message to midfielder Sierra Smidinger was brief and simple.
“What I pointed out to Sierra, as a center midfielder, was that we really needed to get more goal production out of our center midfielders,” Vogel said.
The 2008 Arundel High School grad, now a senior with the Colonials, has been a full-time starter since her sophomore season. Until this year, though, Smidinger had always been more of a secondary scoring option for George Washington, tallying just two goals during her first three college seasons.
Challenged by Vogel to take on more of a scoring role this year, Smidinger was determined to do just that, and she has.
Although the Colonials have struggled some as a team – posting a 3-7 record through their first 10 games – Smidinger, a team captain, has quickly established herself as the team’s top goal scorer. She leads the team with four goals.
“Sierra’s done a great job,” Vogel said. “She’s stepped up tremendously.”
Vogel attributes Smidinger’s success to the work she put in during the offseason.
According to Vogel, Smidinger spent the entire summer at George Washington vigorously training in preparation for the season. As a result, she says Smidinger “is now in peak physical condition.”
Vogel noted, “Her physical presence is the difference with her this year. She’s always been a strong player, but she’s so fit right now that the amount of territory that she can cover in a game has increased drastically even just from last year.”
At Arundel, Smidinger was a first-team all-county performer during each of her four high school seasons. She was also a team captain each of her last two years with the Wildcats, including as a senior when she recorded nine goals and 12 assists.
Despite the success in high school, though, Smidinger says she has progressively become a much more confident player during her time at George Washington.
Like Vogel, she also believes the work she put in during the summer has paid tremendous dividends this season.
“I just feel healthier, faster and stronger,” Smidinger said. “I’ve definitely improved in all of those areas.”
And while she’s been happy to see that work translate into goals, Smidinger is also hoping to be able to help the Colonials recover from their slow start.
“It’s definitely been nice to some goals in the back of the net,” Smidinger said. “As a team, though, we’ve gotten off to a rocky start, but my number one focus is to help this team be as successful as possible. I just want us to be able to make the conference tournament and be able to put ourselves in a position to win that tournament.”
Vogel voiced a similar goal and said that Smidinger will play a key role in helping the Colonials achieve that.
“We obviously want to go the conference championship and win it,” Vogel said. “And Sierra’s going to be a huge part of that. She’s got to be a 90-minute player for us, she’s got to be the best ball-winner on the field, has got to be able to keep the ball for us and then has to be able to put the ball in the back of net, too.
“All of that will be absolutely essential in allowing us to win the [conference] championship this year.”