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Jun 18, 2019 1:10 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

A Dream Come True: Isabelle Smith Named To U.S. Lacrosse U19 Women's Team

Westhampton Beach junior Isabelle Smith endured a 10-month process of trying out for the U.S. Lacrosse U19 team. On Monday, Smith was named to the final squad. US LACROSSE
Jun 18, 2019 1:25 PM

For a player of Isabelle Smith’s caliber to say something was her greatest accomplishment, it must have been a big deal.

The Westhampton Beach junior officially made the final cut for the 2019 U.S. Lacrosse women’s under-19 team on Monday, successfully completing what was nearly a year-long tryout for the team.

“Making the team, it’s been the biggest accomplishment of my career thus far,” she said on Monday, not long after the official word came out. “This was a journey that began 10 months ago with 500 other applicants. I’ve set goals to achieve my whole life, and this was one of the biggest and for it to actually happen is really an amazing feeling.

“It makes me really appreciate the people that have helped me along the way,” Smith added. “Of course my parents and my family, but all of my coaches along the way, even those who have coached against me, and my teammates, are a big part of it also. Nothing would be possible without any of those people.”

Late last summer, Smith, who has been verbally committed to Boston College since the eighth grade, found out she was one of 110 players from across the country who were chosen out of more than 500 applicants to try out for the squad. Tryouts were held in early August at the U.S. Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Maryland. The group included players from 16 states, with six players that just finished their freshman season of college lacrosse, 50 high school seniors, 34 high school juniors and 20 high school sophomores from the 2017-18 academic year.

Of the 110 that tried out for the team, Smith was one of the 36 named to the training team, which traveled around the country the following months practicing and playing against other teams. Over that time, Smith had to make many sacrifices, including missing some time with the numerous school and travel teams she plays on in order to achieve what has truly been a lifelong goal of hers, to play for and represent her country. The U.S. U19 team is primarily selected to play in the upcoming 2019 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s U19 World Championship held August 1 to 10, 2019, in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

For the past several months, Smith has continually made cut after cut, including this past January, when the 36-player training team was dwindled down to 23. Earlier this month, the U.S. U19 team held another training camp at the U.S. Lacrosse headquarters in Maryland where it made its final cut to trim the roster down to its maximum limit of 18 players allowed under World Lacrosse rules.

On Monday, U.S. Lacrosse Magazine made the official announcement of the final roster, which included Smith as well as Eastport/South Manor senior Kasey Choma. Smith, Choma and 2017 Wantagh High School graduate Alexandra Murphy, who also made the team, all play, or have played for, the same Long Island Yellow Jackets travel program.

“We could have picked any of these players,” U19 head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller told U.S. Lacrosse. “They’re all unbelievable with great attitudes and are just a joy to work with. This was truly a very hard decision to make. We had a lot of considerations, including our style of play and how we could be successful with our choices. The depth of talent in the United States is unbelievable. It’s been really fun to work with all of them, and it’s unfortunate to see some of them go.”

Smith is one of just three current juniors selected to the team and one of six current high school players selected. The rest of the team is made up of older players who currently play at universities. While it may be overbearing for some to be able to play with older players who already have college experience, Smith said age isn’t a factor on the team, it’s about ability.

“Early on in the process, it was a goal of mine to never let them view me as being a high school junior and make it known that age isn’t a factor,” she said. “All of the girls get along great. There are a bunch of them who are older than me, but when I set out 10 years ago to make this team, I not only knew that I would be trying out with girls who are older than me, but it would be with amazing college players who I have looked up to, and inspire me.”

Smith will be focusing and committing all of her training this summer to the U.S. U19 team, which means she has to take a step back from the Yellow Jackets and any and all training from the other sports she plays—Smith is a standout three-sport athlete at Westhampton Beach, playing volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and lacrosse in the spring.

The U19 team has a pair of camps scheduled just prior to the world championships in August. It will be at Northwestern University from July 8 to July 10 and then it will have a camp at Niagara University leading up to the 10-day tournament in August. Smith said she received her workout packet and has been in constant contact with coaches and trainers from U.S. Lacrosse since she found out she’d be making the team.

“It will be 10 days of all lacrosse so you want to perform at your best,” Smith said. “There will be a few more training camps in July that we’re doing to prepare us.”

The U.S. is scheduled to play its first game of the championship tournament on August 2 against Australia. It’s looking to reclaim gold after a string of four straight world championships ended with a loss to Canada in the gold medal game in 2015 at the last U19 world championship in Scotland. The U.S. has won four of the six previous World Lacrosse Women’s U19 championships (1999, 2003, 2007, 2011) while Australia (1995) and Canada (2015) have each won once.

Smith said that with a very big accomplishment now under her belt she’ll keep striving for more.

“It’s awesome to be given this opportunity, but the overall goal throughout this entire process is to bring a gold medal back to the U.S.,” she said. “Lacrosse is the ultimate team sport. It takes excellent, committed players and coaching to be the best of the best. When I look at the people I am surrounded by on the U.S.A. team, and eventually when I get to BC, I see the potential to accomplish great things.”

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