Midfielders are the workhorses of the soccer world.
They cover the most ground of any players and are simultaneously the most varied and versatile. Junior midfielder Lainey Smith knows she must be prepared to run for close to 80 minutes each time she takes the field for the Lady Cats.
It’s the responsibility that comes with the position, and she embraces that.
“I was always look at it like, ‘it’s not over until it’s over,” Smith said. “No matter how tired and exhausted you are you have to be able to push the entire team.”
Midfielders are fanatics about possession – both keeping it when their team has the ball and getting it back when the ball is lost to the opposition. They have the best sense of where they are on the field. This often results in a player like Smith running untethered in the center of the field. But playing in the middle of the field also demands creativity.
She has to closely analyze when to step to the ball and when to run or pass back to a teammate.
“(You’re) a crucial player out on the field,” she said. “You have to be able to look at everything.”
Much of Douglas’ success this season has come in the form of dominating possession, and midfielders like Smith, along with Katie Notman, Allie Peasley and Amber Hight have been critical pieces. The Lady Cats run with nine strong at midfield and are constantly making it difficult for opposing teams to rattle off shots on goal.
Smith credits the versatility at the position. But she also points to communication as a key variable.
“It all starts with Alexa (Williams) in the back,” Smith said of Douglas’ goalkeeper. “We can’t have everything working together without her. She’s always in our ears talking to us and making sure we know what’s going on.”
A good midfielder will always ask herself the same question: Where am I going to distribute the ball next? Smith is more of an offensive-minded midfielder, but still able to recognize when to hold back as is often required of the position.
She doesn’t bear the defensive responsibilities as much as other midfielders on the team, but the position can still include its fair share of physical abuse.
“It challenges you both physically and mentally,” Smith said.
FOLLOWED BY FIVE GOALS
The Lady Bison made it clear why they entered last Tuesday’s game at Douglas Middle School with just one loss on the season. A 2-0 Buffalo win was Douglas’ first shutout loss of the year and came after a 5-0 victory over Newcastle three days earlier.
Both teams are tied for the lead in 3A East with 19 points and will meet again on May 4 in the regular season finale.
Douglas got back to its high-powered ways two days later in Torrington with its third five goal performance of the season, a 5-1 win over the Lady Blazers. Andi Hunsicker netted her third hat trick of the season to push her season goal total to 17. Notman, and Peasley also found the back of the net for the Lady Cats.
“This is a big week for us,” head coach Skylar Hatanelas said prior to the start of Monday’s practice. “The Cody week will be telling.”
Douglas (6-3-1, 3-1-1) lost to the Lady Broncs (9-1, 5-0) by a final score of 8-2 back on March 26 in Park County. They’ve shutout four of their last five opponents since that win and appear to be marching toward another state championship berth.
Smith and the Lady Cats have other plans.
“We’re really going to be pushing each other this week,” Smith said. “This week will show us how much we’ve built since that loss.”
Friday’s opening kickoff at DMS is set for 3 p.m.