Smithfield High girls soccer team returns to states, advances to semifinals

Published 4:17 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023

By Matthew Hatfield

Contributing writer

For the first time in school history, the Smithfield High girls soccer team reached the Virginia High School League State Tournament in 2022. 

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Though that squad concluded 18-2 overall with a tough loss to Tuscarora in the semifinal round, expectations were high heading into this season, and so far the Packers are passing the tests with flying colors, sitting at 18-3 overall after another regional title. In fact, they’re among four spring sports teams at the school qualifying for the state playoffs. SHS won its quarterfinal match against Hanover in a shootout Tuesday night to advance to Friday’s semifinals in Spotsylvania.

“Watching our community and school surround each of these teams this year has been pretty amazing,” said head coach Nathan Jones. “Our success stemming from last year obviously helps with all of that and carried into this season. Having the support and backing has really helped our program succeed. You really start to see the culmination of all of that.”

It all starts with the senior quartet of Sydney Schwarz, Emma Forbes, Kaitlyn Worrell (25 goals) and Old Dominion commit Katie Lutz (19 goals). According to Jones, they’ve put together an impressive 61-7 record at the varsity and junior varsity levels during their careers, which included the COVID-19 year and a shortened 10-game sophomore campaign.

 “I can’t say enough about our four senior captains this year in Katie, Emma, Sydney and Kaitlyn Worrell. They really showed that true leadership and I feel they’re setting the stage for what we want to see at Smithfield going forward,” Jones said. 

“Last year, we had a pretty good team as far as leadership. They were juniors and we had a good senior class to go along with them to provide that experience. They’re the only four seniors we have on our team this year and we’re not as deep. We brought along some younger girls and were able to get them up to speed from the beginning of the season to the end of the year.” 

This Smithfield team also had to overcome some adversity when one of its key players, Brianna Curro (10 goals, 16 assists), went down with a broken ankle and sprained her ACL in the Bay Rivers District Tournament Championship against Jamestown.

“To make a run through the regional tournament without her on the field is really special for us and really bodes well for what we see in the future,” Jones said.

Clearly the defining moment came in the 3-2 double-overtime win over Great Bridge in the Region 4A Championship, following shutouts of Deep Creek (6-0) in the semis and Grafton (4-0) in the quarterfinals.

“Great Bridge has a great team over there. I’m telling you, it was probably one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of,” Jones said. “They got us 2-1 earlier in the season. We knew what they had to bring to the table with Audrey Orrock, who is a phenomenal player. We really had to lay it all on the line with what they have in terms of speed and heart. Both teams laid it all on the field, wanted it and felt it could’ve gone either way, but I was really happy for our girls. Katie stepped up big-time for us in that game. It was two heavyweight teams going at it, and we were fortunate enough to come out on top.”

It’s conceivable the Wildcats and Packers meet again in the state championship game on Saturday, but the next order of business for Smithfield is a rematch with last year’s semifinal opponent, Tuscarora, at 11 a.m. Friday in Spotsylvania.

“When you get to the state level, every game is not easy,” Jones said. “Our girls want more, so the biggest thing for us is not to be complacent on just winning the regional. Bring the fire like we did in the regional tourney, and if we do that, I like our chances. We worked so hard all year to get homefield advantage, so hopefully that plays in our favor.”