PLAYER OF THE WEEK: PNG’s Halley Smith plays head first on soccer field

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Senior Halley Smith is known for using her head on the soccer field. Literally.

“Most of my goals have come off of headers this year,” Smith said. “They look to hit me back post, and I’ll just come in and hit it with my head. I have a lot of control. I use my head to beat people to the ball, and I know how to angle it and hit it just right to where it goes where I want it. There’s a lot of power that comes off of corners, especially from Kaylee Landry. She’s kicks them for us. She has a strong leg and as it hits my head, it’s a rocket into the goal.”

Smith scored within the first five minutes of Friday’s game between the Port Neches-Groves Indians and Nederland Bulldogs off of a header, the fourth goal for her this year. The Port Arthur News Girl Player of the Week is fearless, PNG head coach Aimee Bates said.

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“They set it in, she hit it back post and it was beautiful,” Bates said. “That just goes to show you she has no fear.”

Her headers are part of a pattern of physicality that Smith says makes her an asset.

“I have a pretty strong shot and I’m very physical,” she said. “People know me for bodying people. I’d say I’m pretty physical, tough and aggressive. You can’t just push me off the ball, and I’m fast.”

Bates calls Smith’s tenacity “relentless,” adding she’s versatile enough to be play all over the field.

“We sometimes use her in the back line, sometimes we use her in the midfield and we put her up front, so because of her soccer skills we can use her anywhere on the field,” he said. “She is a relentless player, she is fearless, she goes up and wins the air balls.”

Recently, Bates says Smith learned to slow down and keep her composure, allowing her to serve as a more effective playmaker.

“She can be a 10, our playmaker for us,” Bates said. “The girls know she is one of the hardest workers on the team. She sets the pace for everybody to chase. She’s a leader, she takes care of her classroom duties, she’s Academic All-State this year and just her level of play is always up there. She makes the team better because they look to her and our level comes up.”

Smith loves soccer, and hopes to continue playing in college. She has her eyes on colleges close to home, but not too close. She started as PNG’s libero for varsity volleyball in the last season, but soccer is her passion.

“I think it’s just more physical, more contact,” she said. “I naturally have a lot of energy and it’s just fun to be all over the place and be able to be physical about it and compete. It’s just so fun, I’m in love with it.”