Senior biology major Tyler Smith went from being injured his freshman lacrosse season in 2016 and being granted medical hardship at the University of Dallas, to scoring a team-high of 29 goals as well as being the lacrosse team MVP in 2018. He credits his success to having played lacrosse from a young age.
“I started playing in sixth grade,” Smith said. “I used to play baseball, but my dad played [lacrosse] back in high school. He found out that my high school was starting a team the year that I stopped playing baseball, and he told me to go out and try it. I’ve loved it ever since.”
In high school, Smith played for the Seattle Starz club team and garnered several awards. Smith was four time Defensive MVP, made the All-Conference team twice and was once awarded Academic All-American. During this time, he acquired the knowledge and skills of the game that he would bring with him to UD.
“I got two different experiences in high school,” Smith said. “My high school team was somewhat of a lower level. I played high school and club ball. My travel team was the Seattle Starz, and they were the top team in the west. From there I got to learn a lot more about my position. I learned the specifics of playing defense at the time. I play midfield now, so it’s a little different. My high school team had fewer numbers and guys that weren’t as skilled. I played different positions and learned every aspect of the game, so I think that actually prepared me for the game.”
Smith scored one goal in 2016 and tallied 15 goals in the 2017 season. In 2018, Smith really took off as he led the team with 39 points, scoring a team-high 29 goals and registering five hat tricks during that season. The extra effort outside of practice helped contribute to his success on the field.
“We would all kind of stay afterward and take shooting reps for practice,” Smith said. “The most important part of that was that we finally gelled as an offense. The past few years our team was focused on defense, and last year we kind of figured it out and found an offensive set that was good for us. It really helps me focus on my strengths as a player.”
The Crusaders faced a change at the helm during this off-season, with coach Keith Loftis taking over as the new UD men’s lacrosse head coach for the 2019 season. Smith gave the impression that he is excited about the change.
“[Coach Loftis] is awesome,” Smith said. “I interviewed Keith when he came down here. He seemed like a good guy in general and it seemed like the point in his career that he’s at is what the UD team is looking for right now…someone who will stay with the program. In the past, we have had coaches that have [been] here for two years and then left. He knows a lot about the game. As a coach, I love him. He’s doing a great job so far.”
With a newly gelled offense lead by a new head coach, the UD men’s lacrosse team is ready and primed for the upcoming 2019 season.