For lacrosse senior Eric Smith, UD was better fit than OSU
Published: Monday, April 22, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 18:04
After playing one game for Ohio State in 2009 and finding that he did not mesh well with the new coach, men’s lacrosse attacker Eric Smith wound up joining Delaware and quickly found his niche for the Hens, playing backup in 15 games and scoring a goal.
Head coach Bob Shillinglaw said he could see Smith would be a good fit for Delaware, thanks to a tip from the coach at Boys’ Latin in Baltimore.
“He gave a great recommendation on Eric as an on-the-field player, good leadership qualities,” Shillinglaw said. He described him as a quarterback, great intelligence, great lacrosse IQ. One of his descriptions was that he was like another coach on the field, and basically that’s what he’s been for us.”
Playing high school lacrosse, Smith started on a team that made it to the championship three times in a row and won 36 consecutive games. Senior year also saw him change positions on the field. Despite the switch, Smith continued to flourish, scoring 21 goals.
Smith said the position change helped make him a better all-round player and prepared him to play at the collegiate level.
“I did very well, leading scorer on the team for middies,” Smith said. “It was a good learning experience for me because I got to play a different position and expand my game a little bit before going to college.”
Now at the end of his Delaware career, Smith has had 18 goals and 11 assists in 14 games this season. Despite suffering a sports hernia in March, Smith has continued to play throughout.
Smith said even though the injury has given him another challenge, he is going to give his all to help the team to victory.
“This season’s been a decent season for myself, I drew a lot of key guys, key defenders, the whole guys,” Smith said. “It was tough at times. I also had a sports hernia about halfway through the season, I think it was Hofstra where I received that, and I’ve been dealing with some injuries that have plagued me and it’s been tough to stay healthy, be a hundred percent, but I’ve done the best that I can to give our team the best chance to win.”
Smith has seen his share of injuries over the past two seasons. Last year, he suffered a back injury during a fall practice, forcing him to sit out the season, though he maintained co-captaincy from the sidelines.
Smith’s teammate and roommate, senior midfielder Nick Diachenko said he was impressed by Smith’s work ethic and dedication to the team to return from injury.
“It was a tough injury to come back from,” Diachenko said. “It was a back injury, he basically broke his back, so he had to go to rehab every day, but he also had to wear a back brace for a long period of time. I actually wore it a couple times just to see how it felt, and it was the most annoying thing you could ever imagine, so just having the dedication to wear that thing around, to class every day and basically just putting the work to go down to the Field House and see our athletic trainer and do physical therapy.”
Smith has continued to be co-captain of the team. Diachenko said Smith’s leadership on the field has also transferred into their friendship as roommates, with Smith helping to make sure Diachenko is focused.
After Smith graduates, he said he expects to move into Major League Lacrosse. He also said he will own the restaurant Ouzo Bay in Baltimore with his brother Alex, a former lacrosse player for the Hens who is now currently in MLL with the Baltimore Bayhawks. Smith also said the pair hopes to open another restaurant in the next couple of years.
“The next thing for me is last year I got drafted by the Charlotte Hounds, so I’m gonna see if they want me to come down and join their practice squad, see if I can make their roster spot in the MLL,” he said.
Diachenko said he and Smith hang out often, going to dinner frequently at Ouzo Bay. Diachenko’s favorite memory of Smith is both an example of Smith’s leadership and how highly the coaches think of him. Diachenko said Smith pushed to get him playing time in a game last year while Smith was injured
“I was having a really good game and the coaches weren’t necessarily putting me in as much as I would like and Eric said I was definitely in the zone and that I could bring something to the game,” he said. “So even though the coaches weren’t playing me, he went out of his way and he went to coach Shillinglaw and was like ‘he’s hot, you have to put him in’ and because he’s so respected by the coaching staff he put me in and I scored on that next play.”