BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — Maggie Smither, a 22-year-old South Dakota State University senior soccer goalkeeper and advertising major, loves soccer.
“I’ve just always loved team sports. So growing up I played basketball, I played softball for a little bit, but just always having that team sport, I didn’t really, I couldn’t ever wrap my head around individual sports,” Smither said. “I loved being a part of a group that is all fighting for one thing together, and soccer specifically, I just, I really fell in love with goalkeeping.”
Smither, who graduated from Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, fell in love with the position because of what it demands.
“I really like the pressure, I really like being able to be vocal and be a leader from the back,” Smither said.
SDSU women’s soccer head coach Brock Thompson believes she’s the best goalie in program history, highlighting her ability as a shot stopper and as a leader.
“She’s really the complete package,” Thompson said. “But maybe more so than all of that is she’s invested in growing her game, and she’s really invested in developing her craft, and each year she’s gotten better and better and better, and I think she was good her redshirt freshman year.”
It didn’t stop there.
“She kept, had this burning desire to keep getting better, and in the end developed herself into not just one of the best goalkeepers that we’ve ever had, or the best goalkeeper we have ever had, but one of the best goalkeepers in the country,” Thompson said.
Now, Smither is gunning for the pros, hoping to play in the National Women’s Soccer League.
“I want to give it my best shot,” Smither said.
Thompson said Smither has the capacity to play in the NWSL.
“She does,” Thompson said. “She’s a goalkeeper that can play at the professional level for sure.”
The league is small, though, with only nine teams.
“Because it’s such a small league, there’s a little bit of a, you just have to be in the right situation from that standpoint,” Thompson said. “And I know this, I wouldn’t bet against Maggie. I think if she gets in the right environment, she’ll shine through.”
Thompson highlights the goalkeeper’s drive.
“She has always probably been more driven than anybody else to just continue to grow, and as a coach, anytime you can coach a player like that it’s tremendously rewarding,” Thompson said.
Smither is trying to become a professional athlete because the fire driving her hasn’t stopped burning.
“I think for me I’ve just never had that love or that passion ever go away, and then being done with college soccer here, it’s just like really like, I’m not ready to be done,” Smither said. “I want to keep trying to do this thing that I’ve had for so long. I don’t remember not having soccer.”