SPRINGFIELD, MO.: It wasn’t the ending Haley Smith and her ISU Red Birds wanted, but looking at the overall season it was a success.
Smith, a Fall River product, made five saves in the Missouri Valley Conference women’s soccer championship, but her Red Birds fell 2-0 to Loyola Chicago Ramblers.
The Redbirds finish the year, 14-6, while the Ramblers improve to 14-4-1 and secured the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
At the conclusion of the game, Smith, along with two teammates, were announced as MVC All-Tournament Team selections.
However, for Smith the season was one of accomplishment. One of those was breaking the career shutout record held by the Red Birds.
“As my career was coming to an end, it was most important to me to assure the standard for the program was left as high as possible,” Smith told The Laker on Nov. 19. “It is important to me that after I complete my time at Illinois State the next generations to come are better than I was.”
She spoke about setting a new shutout record.
“Breaking the shutout record was important to my team and is a credit to everyone who played in front of me and trained beside me,” she said. “The 2019 team set a high standard for future Redbirds but we hope the program will continue to build off of this year’s success.”
Smith said making it to the conference finals this year got us closer to a championship season than we have been the last two years, but the team fell short of their goal.
“We did our best to prepare for our second match up against them,” she said. “However, they were the better team on game day.”
She said with the eight seniors graduating, the Redbirds program will remain in a good place.
“Our senior class wanted to end with a championship, but even though we did not get it, we left our team in a good place to build off of this year’s success moving into next season,” said Smith.