There's a new queen in the world of prep field hockey, and her coronation has been a long time coming.
As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer and a handful of other sources, Florence (N.J.) High field hockey star Lexi Smith set a national record when she scored her 175th career goal during a Florence victory against Riverside (N.J.) High. The 175th goal broke a longstanding record which was set by Sharon Landau (now Sharon Berney), who scored 174 goals during a magical high school career for Mamaroneck (N.Y.) Rye Neck High.
"To me, that was everything," Lexi Smith told the Inquirer. "To be able to run over to my mom, to see her tearing up, it was the best feeling.
"I cherish that. I cherish being able to do this with the people around me who have supported me."
When Smith ran over to her mother, she was also running over to her coach. Gina Smith has spent 15 years leading the Florence program, building it into a field hockey juggernaut in the state of New Jersey.
Still, her longest-lasting legacy will almost certainly be her daughter's spectacular achievement. Though the younger Smith's achievement has come with a steady flourish of goals, her mother said that she often dealt with guilt that her daughter would feel a need to follow in her footsteps, something she desperately hoped to avoid providing pressure toward.
"I was afraid that she would feel like she had to follow in my shoes," Gina Smith told the Inquirer. "I didn't want her to live in my shadow."
Just as Gina Smith had an indelible impact on her daughter, Lexi Smith has had a major impact on the younger generation in Florence. Lexi Smith convinced her mother to start a youth field hockey program to try and get elementary school students involved in the sport while the new national scoring leader was still on her way up.
Now, Florence youngsters are just as likely to be playing with crooked sticks as they are with soccer balls throughout the fall.
And, in a touching capstone to Smith's achievement, the woman whose remarkable record she finally passed was on hand to congratulate her first hand on the achievement.
"I'm so proud of her," Berney said.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Gina Smith