It is the only thing standing in the way of coach Beth Smiley’s plan to turn the fledgling Philip Simmons High School girls’ lacrosse program into a perennial state power.
Smiley was named coach of the program and oversaw the junior varsity team last year. The Iron Horses were 3-0 when the COVID-19 pandemic brought the season to a premature end.
This spring, PSHS fielded a varsity team for the first time, and the Iron Horses have taken some lumps. They were 1-4 to begin the season with its first-ever victory coming March 9 against the James Island Trojans.
But it’s been a learning experience as the Iron Horses battle more experienced teams. But time is on the Iron Horses’ side, the way Smiley talks.
There were some defections from last year’s program, but the team has 22 girls on the roster.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is 10 players are in their first year, and are brand new when it comes to the LAX experience, including the team’s starting goalkeeper.
Most of the players who are getting the majority of the playing time don’t have the LAX background that other great teams have. But that should change in a few years as most of the seventh- and eighth-graders do have that LAX pedigree, which includes playing at the club level.
As those players work their way through the program, as they age and mature, the Philip Simmons program hopes to be a force that can compete with the likes of the Bishop Englands and Wandos of the LAX universe in the Palmetto State.
Until then, the mission is much more simple.
”We spend all our energy getting better every day,” Smiley said.
That just might have been her mantra when she picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time.
Although Smiley had not seen the sport until she arrived on campus of Widener University in Pennsylvania, she started playing her freshman year and was a four-year starter on her college team.
She figures if she can do it, so can the players. All it takes is grit, talent and a good coach.
That’s where Smiley enters the picture. She played the sport up North and received excellent coaching. Now, she shares that wealth of experience she gained with LAX players of all ages. If she’s not coaching, she’s running clinics for players who are the future of the sport here in the Lowcountry.
Some of the key players for the Iron Horses this spring include senior Hayden Lauderback and her sister Lauren. Junior Sydney Barton has played at high levels and has earned so much respect that she is a team captain.
Senior Olivia Holleman is getting better with every game while freshman Emmy Wood has the potential to be a star.
Sophomore goalkeeper Mallory Holleman is in her first year in the program.
“This is a season of firsts,” Smiley said. “We’re celebrating firsts in our program such as our first captains, our first victory and things like that.”
And in a few seasons, the Iron Horses could celebrate much bigger accomplishments. It’s only a matter of time.