Soccer takes priority for Denfeld's goalie -- and kicker -- Smith
Matt Smith couldn't make it to the start of Denfeld's football game against Thief River Falls last Friday night. "I had a soccer game," said Smith, a senior goaltender on the Hunters' soccer squad and the placekicker on the football team. "I was ...
Matt Smith couldn't make it to the start of Denfeld's football game against Thief River Falls last Friday night.
"I had a soccer game," said Smith, a senior goaltender on the Hunters' soccer squad and the placekicker on the football team.
"I was going to the football game as soon as our soccer game ended, and I had the game on the radio. The announcers said, 'One thing Denfeld has got to work on is their kicking game.'"
Smith got to Public Schools Stadium, ran out to join the team, and got a chance to boom a kickoff into the end zone.
"I guess the radio announcers said, 'Denfeld is trying their third kid as a kicker, and it looks like they finally found one who can kick,'" laughed Smith.
Smith faced similar conflicts all summer, when he played soccer and also American Legion baseball. By comparison, Monday night was easy, because Smith didn't have any conflict with Denfeld's slick, undefeated football team.
He focused on tending goal for the Hunters in their soccer rivalry against Duluth Central. Every sport in which Denfeld and Central compete is a major rivalry, and soccer is among the top ones with both teams off to strong starts.
Joe Olson scored a first-half goal for Denfeld Monday night, and Smith made it stand up with some outstanding saves against the quick-striking Trojans for a 1-0 victory.
The game was the second of a doubleheader sweep for Denfeld's soccer teams, as the Hunter girls beat Central 3-0 in the first game at PSS.
In the boys' game, however, Denfeld came in 4-1-1 and Central 4-1, with Denfeld having lost only to East, while Central's lone setback came against Grand Rapids.
"Joe Olson scored on a one-timer, off the pipe and in," said Smith, whose perspective from the far end of the field was unerring.
Central pressed to ignite its favored fast-breaking offense, but, with only three spare players, the Trojans may have run out of gas.
On the other hand, Denfeld's defense stacked up to prevent speedsters like sophomores Jamie Price and Ben Brose from popping into the clear.
"I didn't have as much work in the second half as I did in the first," said Smith. "I kind of like that."
The game featured a lot of offense for a 1-0 nail-biter, as junior James Blodgett made 10 saves for Central, while Smith made 17 saves to get the shutout.
"We were close," said Central coach Ryan Kern. "We had a couple chances, and we shot just over the net or their goalie made the save."
Unheralded Central is now 4-2 overall, and Denfeld -- even more unheralded -- improved to 5-1-1 overall.
"It's such a great race, anyone can beat anyone else," said Kern.
But you might want to try to schedule the Hunters on football night.