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Crusaders Captaincy proud milestone for Sofia Smithson


Serving as team captain of the Holy Cross Crusaders for the last two seasons, Sofia Smithson provided the budding program with consistency and reliability. Having first worn the Crusaders purple jersey in the autumn of 2019, one year after the program joined the Hockey East conference, Smithson’s growth as a leader has run parallel to an exciting era.

Appearing in all 33 games as a freshman, Smithson duplicated such durability as a senior. Gracing the ice in 34 games this season, adding a sense of full circle, the fans at Hart Center witnessed an offensive renaissance. Finishing second in team scoring, trailing only fellow senior Mary Edmonds, Smithson shone as a playmaker, leading all skaters with 11 assists, her leadership reaching an exciting new plateau.

Accumulating a career best 16 points, also registering a very respectable 22 blocked shots, Smithson, raised in Windsor, Ontario, surpassed her combined point total from the past three seasons. Enjoying three multi point performances in 2022-23, her finest involved a terrific three assist outburst versus the Merrimack Warriors on January 21. Part of the Warriors Skating Strides night, featuring pink laces and pink stick tape, Smithson logged an assist in each period, resulting in a 5-1 road victory.

The most memorable multi point performance took place in Smithson’s final appearance as a Crusader. Facing off versus the New Hampshire Wildcats in the Hockey East playoffs, the captain found the back of the net twice against Ava Boutilier. As a side note, Edmonds and freshman Lane Lewis earned the assists on both goals.

“Being able to be a captain for Holy Cross for the last two seasons is something I will alway be grateful for. As an underclassman, I always looked up to the older girls and continuously wanted to put my best foot forward for the team.

As I became an upperclassman, I had the same expectations for myself, but also became someone the girls could turn to. That is something that means a lot to me, being able to be trusted and respected by my teammates enough to have them feel comfortable talking to me as a teammate and friend.

I think the group of captains over my last two seasons, and the team as a whole, tried to create a culture that carried on for years to come. And, now that my time has come to a close at Holy Cross, I can say that I think we have completely turned this program around.”

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest highlights during Smithson’s compelling Crusaders career involved the opportunity to play at Fenway Park. Having taken on new life as a fascinating venue for outdoor hockey, the Frozen Fenway event is providing a generation of Hockey East competitors with a monumental milestone destined to be cherished long after hanging up the skates.

Challenging the Boston University Terriers, the epic January 6 event at Fenway held multiple meaning. Marking a new chapter in the Turnpike Trophy rivalry between the two Massachusetts based institutions, it also signified the first experience of an outdoor game for many of the Crusaders skaters.

Enveloped under a night sky, the Crusaders and Terriers played under the same lights as those which brighten the playing surface for Red Sox night games. With the iconic Green Monster adding to the majesty of the experience, the players were enraptured by the ambience.

Smiles all around, the feeling of accomplishment took on luster with a 3-2 win. Displaying a highly disciplined play, evidenced by an astounding 16 blocked shots, an impressive penalty kill unit nullified the Terriers offense. Casey Borgiel, a member of the Hockey East All-Rookie Team scored the game’s opening goal, setting an empowering tone for the Crusaders. Coincidentally, another rookie, Alexia Moreau recorded the game winning tally, while Madison Beck logged 24 saves, emerging as the number one goaltender for the season to come.

“I think Fenway Park is something I will never forget. I have never been a part of an atmosphere like that before. I think about it all the time. So many of the girls, including myself, had never stepped foot into Fenway prior to the weekend. All of our emotions were high and the energy was just through the roof.

We had so much support leading up to the game and having Holy Cross be a part of a historic win not only gave us a push for the last stretch of the season but gave our program the recognition it deserves. We may not have won every game this season, but we always put our best foot forward and I cannot wait to see what these girls do next.”

With a roster consisting of eight first year players, Senior Night represented an opportunity for them to appreciate the efforts of players such as Smithson, role models to emulate as their careers progress. Belonging to a Class of 2023 including Carly Beniek, Lily Cataldo, Edmonds, Darci Johal, who scored at Frozen Fenway, and Kailey Langefels, all hold an important place as pioneers, helping to herald the program into Hockey East.

As February 18 marked Senior Night, the Crusaders playing host to the Connecticut Huskies, celebration and admiration encompassed only part of Smithson’s sentiments. Recognizing the character of her fellow seniors, reflecting with great maturity on the effort involved during the nascent years of Hockey East play, their collective efforts served as inspiration.

“The class of 2023, specifically, will always have a place in my heart for being as resilient as we were. A program is not built overnight, but I genuinely believe we are leaving Holy Cross better than we found it.

Over my four years I think my favourite moment would have to be Fenway Park. Looking back on that night, all I can do is remember how proud everyone was of each other. We were all crying, laughing, screaming, we felt invincible. No words can describe how winning that game made me feel.

I will definitely miss my teammates the most. It is something you cannot replace once its over. Through the highs and lows, the past four years have given me memories, relationships, and experiences, that I am eternally grateful for. Holy Cross will always be a part of me and so will the people I shared my four years here with!”

All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated

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