Newcomer Smith fit right in with winning tradition
June 3, 2016
As an incoming transfer to a highly successful program, Alexa Smith knew she was going to have to earn her place in the lineup.
She did that. Then she did a lot more.
Smith, a junior striker for the Stuttgart Panthers, scored 35 goals over the course of a spring season that ended with the school’s second straight DODEA-Europe Division I girls soccer championship. As a result of her efforts, she is the 2016 Stars and Stripes girls soccer Athlete of the Year.
“I knew from the beginning we had a lot of great players. Everyone on our team was really, really good.” said Smith, who totaled 23 goals and eight assists in the regular season and 12 goals and five assists in the European tournament. “I knew that I was going to have to work hard and definitely prove myself.”
A lifelong resident of North Carolina and a rising prospect on the local prep and club scenes, Smith learned last spring that she would be moving to Germany. She also learned that she’d have unexpected company - in addition to her younger sister, fellow soccer standout Emily, local club compatriot Lexi Mclellan would also be moving to Stuttgart.
“I was a little nervous to play here because I didn’t know if it would be different,” Smith said. “We fit right in.”
That’s a serious understatement. The Smith sisters and Mclellan teamed with incumbent striker Kat Farrar, the 2015 Stars and Stripes girls soccer Athlete of the Year, to revamp what was already an explosive offense.
“We all kind of clicked,” Smith said. “We formed our offense early on during the season and just got to improve (as the season went on).”
Smith’s skills slotted in perfectly for the Panthers. Stuttgart coach Daniel Coapstick said Smith is a willing and “intuitive” passer with “great vision,” particularly adept at incorporating trailing midfielders in a developing attack. But she was also a lethal, decisive finisher when presented the opportunity.
“She can do it all,” Coapstick said. “Headers, the breakaway run, body positioning, distance shooting.”
Smith’s various contributions were a key factor as the Panthers went undefeated, took command of their ongoing rivalry with Ramstein and claimed a second straight European championship. Smith scored three goals and assisted Farrar on the other in Stuttgart’s 4-0 title-game rout of Naples.
Winning, after all, is the true end game for even the most accomplished striker.
“We just wanted to come out with a championship,” Smith said. “We worked really hard.”