Boise, ID, midfielder Sammy Smith receives U-17 soccer invite

Boise, ID, midfielder Sammy Smith receives U-17 soccer invite

Boise sophomore Sammy Smith passes to center against Eagle in a 5A SIC girls soccer game Sept. 30 at Fort Boise. Smith is one of just 36 soccer players nationwide invited to attend training camp for the Under-17 U.S. Women’s National Team.

Boise sophomore Sammy Smith passes to center against Eagle in a 5A SIC girls soccer game Sept. 30 at Fort Boise. Smith is one of just 36 soccer players nationwide invited to attend training camp for the Under-17 U.S. Women’s National Team.

doswald@idahostatesman.com

Boise High sophomore Sammy Smith is one of just 36 soccer players nationwide invited to attend training camp for the Under-17 U.S. Women’s National Team, which is preparing for the 2022 FIFA Youth Women’s World Cup in India.

The camp starts Sunday and runs through Oct. 17 at the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista, California. It is the final camp before the World Cup roster is announced.

“It wasn’t until about two weeks ago when I found out,” Smith told the Idaho Statesman last week. “I’ve just been looking forward to it so much.”

This is the third camp invite Smith has received, something very few Idaho players can claim.

Perhaps the Gem State’s most notable women’s soccer star is Centennial High graduate Sofia Huerta, who made her debut with the USWNT in 2017, playing in three games and registering one assist in 156 minutes of action. Huerta appeared in four more international matches in 2018 and was on the provisional roster for the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, but ultimately was not named to the final 20-player roster. She is currently a forward for the NWSL’s OL Reign.

Boise High graduate Grace Hancock, who played college soccer at Washington State, was first invited to compete at the national level as part of a U-17 training camp in 2013.

Smith, who just turned 16 in September, now has a chance to become the youngest Idahoan to make a USWNT roster.

“Sammy is just pure athleticism,” said Boise coach Nicole Arsenault, who is the Communication, Education and Technical Lead for the Idaho Youth Soccer Association. “She’s technical, she’s athletic, she’s strong, she’s gifted in the air, she’s very accurate. She is literally the entire package. She defends and attacks, she’s a very well-rounded player.”

Smith, who also is the reigning individual 5A state champion in cross country and a member of the Brave’s state champion track and field team, has 13 goals and 12 assists this season.

“For Sammy, it was never a how, it was always going to be a when,” Arsenault said. “Whereas I think Sofia and Grace helped pave the way, Sammy has set the new standard of what that elite player looks like.”

Boise will be the No. 2 seed at the 5A District Three Tournament, which begins Friday with four play-in games and runs through Oct. 13 at Rocky Mountain and Centennial high schools. The Brave earned a first-round bye but will have to earn their state tournament ticket without the help of their star midfielder, who will be in California competing for a spot on the U-17 national team.

The 5A state tournament is scheduled for Oct. 21-23 at Rocky Mountain.

“While it’s always hard to miss a key player on your team going into postseason play, we are so excited for Sammy to have earned the opportunity she has,” Arsenault said. “We will be rooting for her from here and will do our best to continue to get results in district. It’s an amazing opportunity for her, and we know she will represent Boise Brave and the state of Idaho well.”

At the 5A state track meet in May, Smith won the 1,600 (4 minutes, 50.6 seconds) and 3,200 (10:33.71) meters as a freshman. She also ran a leg on Boise’s championship 4×400 (3:58.76) and 4×800 (9:09.65) relay teams. The 4×800 relay team set an overall state meet record.

If that wasn’t enough, Smith is also an elite Nordic skier and has tried a little bit of everything growing up, including swimming, hockey, lacrosse and tackle football.

Should Smith make the final roster, the U-17 USWNT will gather again in Chula Vista from Nov. 17-24 in preparation for World Cup qualifying competition early next year.

“With international competition right around the corner, we’re really looking forward to seeing our U-20 and U-17 USWNTs get back together on the field,” said USWNT General Manager Kate Markgraf in a news release.

“After scouting players across the country in their club competitions virtually and in-person, and evaluating them at Regional ID Centers, as well as during the last cycles before COVID, these camps are a critical opportunity to bring the player pools together and familiarize them with our staff and each other. It’s an important early step to prepare for qualifying, which is coming up quickly.”

The U-17 USWNT is preparing for its first CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship since 2018 after the 2020 edition was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Players born on or after Jan. 1, 2005, are age-eligible for the tournament.

The current 36-player training camp roster features 31 players born in 2005 — including Smith — four born in 2006 and one born in 2007. The players hail from 16 states, with Smith being the only one from Idaho.

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