Senior Soccer Player Already Achieved Dream

Ryan Coyle, Sports Reporter

As as high school soccer player in Mount Vernon, Washington, Bryson Smith had one goal: to play college soccer. The senior accounting major made the cross country trek to Dallas, Pa. to do just that.

Smith set this goal during his early high school years, and he was willing to do anything to achieve it—even if that meant moving 2,800 miles across the country.

“Early on in my high school career, around my sophomore year, my goal was to play college soccer and continue my education. My high school coach and guidance counselor really helped me through this process by helping me set up recruiting sites, contact information for coaches, highlight videos, et cetera,” said Smith.

He attributes his knowledge of Misericordia to his high school coach, who played at Grove City College and shared information with him about college soccer in the northeastern U.S.

Smith said most of the schools that were interested in him were Division III institutions, so he knew if he wanted to achieve his goals he was probably going to have to move across the country and embark on a new journey.

“I believe out of the 412 D III soccer programs, 360 plus are in the Northeast. So, the number of players, teams and opportunities out here do not compare to the West Coast,” he said.

Smith was all in to give up his life in Washington to become a Cougar because of the relationship he established with head coach Andy Loughnane from the get-go.

“After being in contact with Coach Loughnane for a year, we finally set up a date where I could fly out and see the campus and I absolutely fell in love,” he said. “I visited with my mom and we were blown away by the facilities and the community here. I also felt very comfortable with Coach Loughnane. He is a caring, disciplined, detailed leader that pushes his players to become not only the best soccer players that they can be but also develops you as a man and challenges you to make bold decisions on and off the field.”

Smith chases the ball down the field during a game. (Courtesy of Misericordia Athletics)

He said after that initial visit, he became even more excited to make a more permanent move.

“I wanted to experience life, meet new people, live in an area where I have never been before and also have the ability to play soccer at a high level while pursuing an education,” Smith said.

With his senior year in limbo due to COVID-19, Smith has been taking extra time to soak in all the memories he has made playing soccer for the Cougars, especially his first ever collegiate goal in a game against Rutgers-Camden.

“Our starting forward got hurt a minute into the game, so I came in and played the rest of the half and played the best game of my early career at Misericordia. I scored a goal at the beginning of the second half to get our team back in the game and I thought scoring goals in high school was fun, but there was nothing like seeing the ball hit the back of the net at the collegiate level, it made me realize that I actually can play at this level and that this is actually happening,” he said.

After that score, Smith realized he had lived his dreams just as he sought out to as a young high schooler. Smith said the transition from watching Misericordia soccer games on his laptop during the recruiting process to putting a ball in the back of the net himself was one of the best moments of his life.

With the MAC Conference cancelling competition for fall athletics, Smith hopes to lead the Cougars on the pitch in a different kind of season in spring 2021.