Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Lacrosse: No. 1 Northwestern’s ‘Smithsters’ form key draw circle tandem

Henry Frieman/The Daily Northwestern
Left: Samantha Smith celebrates after scoring a goal against Florida Friday. Right: Madison Smith in the postgame handshake line following Northwestern’s win over Florida Friday.

CARY, N.C. –– Facing Florida draw specialist Liz Harrison, who reeled in 228 draw controls entering Friday’s clash with Northwestern, junior midfielder Samantha Smith stepped into the circle as Friday’s semifinal match got underway.

Smith prevailed, snagging eight draw controls to Harrison’s two, as the Wildcats (18-2, 5-1 Big Ten) topped the Gators (20-3, 6-0 AAC) 15-11, punching their ticket to the NCAA title game.

Just feet away from the draw circle stood Smith’s sister, Madison, who has played significant minutes as a freshman for NU.

Madison Smith, a defender, has been labeled as a “competitor, like her sister” by NU coach Kelly Amonte Hiller throughout the season.

This season is the first time the two Smiths, affectionately dubbed the “Smithsters” by graduate student attacker Erin Coykendall, have played organized lacrosse together.

Madison and Samantha Smith (right) jog off the field together during a game earlier this season.

“It’s everything you dream of,” Samantha Smith said of being able to play with her sister. “You grow up in your backyard playing lacrosse, you get to watch the national championships together … to be able to be with her while we get to play in this stage is so amazing.”

Though both Smiths attended and played lacrosse at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California, they were unable to take the field at the same time. During Samantha Smith’s junior year, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and then Madison Smith was injured during her sophomore year, so the two never overlapped.

The pandemic brought the two closer together. Confined to their backyard, the duo practiced their lacrosse skills daily, forming a lifelong bond in the process. 

“She’s my best friend,” Madison Smith said of her sister. “Northwestern is an amazing school and I was like, ‘yeah, I need to go there with her.’”

Once Samantha Smith arrived at NU, she took the knowledge gained from coach Kelly Amonte Hiller and passed it on to her younger sibling. Now, with both Smiths in Evanston, the two can rekindle their backyard practice routine. 

“We’re both just learning from each other every day and getting better at the draw,” Samantha Smith said. 

“And we’re also super competitive with each other,” Madison Smith added. “So, it’s very game-like because we both want the ball so bad. It really makes us better.”

Against Maryland on April 6, both Smiths showed up on the stat sheet. Samantha Smith scooped three balls, and Madison Smith garnered two controls. Their father, Mike Smith, said one of his favorite moments this season was when the two connected in the draw circle. 

“Their relentlessness is pretty fun to watch,” Mike Smith said. “When you combine it all in one play, it’s like a couple of dogs chasing a frisbee. It’s fun to watch them with that kind of effort.”

Before every game, during the designated warm-up period, the Smith sisters line up in a makeshift draw circle to get set for the first control. Samantha Smith takes the first draw every game. Against Boston College tomorrow, winning the draw will be a pivotal task. 

Mike Smith says he texts the two a succinct message before every game: “Show ’em.”

“It’s just really trying to bolster their motivation and their confidence,” Mike Smith said. “The only thing that’s standing in their way is just their belief in themselves.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @HenryFrieman

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