Donny Smith immediately notices a connection between himself and his daughter Kelsi when the Moline senior forward steps onto the soccer field.|
"We both are fairly good shooters of the ball," said Donny, a 1989 Moline graduate. "That's where the similarities end."
Speed appears to be the glaring difference, with dad actually holding an edge.
"I can't keep up with him," Kelsi said. "Even at this age."
Perhaps the quickness gene skipped a generation, but the true link between the two goes beyond the bloodline. What really defines this father-daughter relationship is their impact on the Moline soccer program.
Two generations played a significant role in the Maroons' success.
"She's left her mark," Donny said.
So did dad.
"I hear he was a great player," Kelsi said. "I hear about how much of an all-star he was. I'm always hearing about him."
Both were winners, with Donny leading the Maroons to a third-place finish at the 1988 single-class state tournament as a senior. To this day, that is the only trophy in program history.On the other side is Kelsi, who helped Moline to the outright Western Big 6 Conference title this season. Before that, the Maroons had not won the league in 11 years.
Besides the victories, Donny ended his career as the unofficial all-time leading scorer in Moline history with 100 goals. As of today, Kelsi has 67.
Topping it off, both were four-year starters.
"Very proud," Donny said. "It's great to see her accomplishments on the field."
Especially this season, the moments are special considering their relationship and what soccer means to them. Donny guesses Kelsi was three or four when she was first introduced to the sport.
With his background in soccer, it was inevitable she would play.
"You kind of hope so, but we put her in everything," Donny said. "We gave her an opportunity to find her own path and choose what she wanted to do. We're not disappointed she chose soccer."
Gravitating toward soccer, Kelsi developed her skills and passion with her dad alongside. Donny spent most of the time as her coach, cultivating a relationship that featured plenty of special memories.
Still, having dad as a coach provided obstacles.
"Hard at times," Kelsi said. "As I got older, I realized he wasn't being mean. It took a while to get that balance."
Time allowed things to smooth over.
"I was trying to learn how to coach and be a dad at the same time," Donny said. "As she's gotten to high school, we've gotten a lot better and understand each other."
Over time, the relationship evolved into something special. So did the respect between them.
"I never second-guess anything he has to say," Kelsi said. "There's no way I'd be where I am today without him."
Where Kelsi stands today has her among the all-time leading scorers in the history of the girls' soccer program.
"At the younger age, she was more aggressive than the (other) kids," Donny said. "She's always had that competitiveness and desire."
The only thing missing is speed.
"I would like to be a lot faster," Kelsi said, "but it is what it is."
That does not mean she's lacking skills.
"She's more technical than I was," Donny said. "She's a better dribbler and pretty cool under pressure."
Kelsi also has one other title that sets her apart. Dad claims he never won a Big 6 title, so that ends that conversation.
Actually, Kelsi will keep bringing that fact up.
"It will be a long time," Kelsi said. "I'll keep it in his head."
Girls' soccer postseason preview capsules
Class 1A Bloomington Central Catholic SectionalWhere: White Oak Park, Bloomington
Tuesday's semifinal: Alleman vs. Quincy Notre Dame, 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday's semifinal: Champaign St. Thomas More vs. Peoria Christian, 4:30 p.m.
Championship: 4:30 p.m. Friday
FYI: Alleman (12-3) is appearing in the sectionals for the third time in program history and first since 2003. ... Quincy Notre Dame (16-1-2) is the reigning Class 1A state champion. The Lady Raiders won the 2010 Class 1A state title as well. ... Alleman has never won a sectional match. ... The sectional winner meets the Palos Heights Chicago Christian Sectional champion in the Mendota Super-Sectional on May 21.
Class 2A Dunlap RegionalWhere: Dunlap High School, Dunlap
Wednesday's semifinals: No. 1 Dunlap vs. No. 4 Bartonville Limestone, 4:30 p.m.; No. 2 Galesburg vs. No. 3 Orion-Sherrard, 6:30 p.m.
Championship: 6 p.m. Friday
FYI: Orion-Sherrard (13-4-2) enters on a 13-match unbeaten streak. ... During its streak, Orion-Sherrard's defense has allowed two goals. ... Baillie McCunn (18 goals) and Malerie West (16) are the team's leading scorers. ... The regional winner faces the Peoria Notre Dame Regional champion in the Peoria Notre Dame Sectional semifinals on May 21.
Class 2A United Township RegionalWhere: Panther Pitch Silvis
Tuesday's semifinal: No. 1 United Township vs. No. 5 Dixon, 5 p.m.
Wednesday's semifinal: No. 2 Geneseo vs. No. 3 Rock Island, 5 p.m.
Championship: 5 p.m. Friday
FYI: United Township (9-7) earned the No. 1 seed by going undefeated against the field. The Panthers topped Geneseo, 1-0, in the only meeting between the two. ... The Maple Leafs (14-2-1) have won 10 consecutive regional matches. Each victory was a shutout. ... Geneseo earned a 6-0 win over Rock Island two weeks ago. ... The regional winner meets the Metamora Regional champion in the Peoria Notre Dame Sectional semifinal on May 21.
Class 3A Normal Community RegionalWhere: Normal Community High School, Normal
Tuesday's semifinals: No. 1 Normal Community vs. No. 4 Bradley-Bourbonnais, 4:30 p.m.; No. 2 Moline vs. No. 3 Pekin, 6:30 p.m.
Championship: 5 p.m. Friday
FYI: The Maroons (13-5) have won five of their previous six matches. ... Moline suffered a 5-1 loss to Normal Community in its season opener. ... The Maroons have advanced to the regional final twice since the IHSA split into three classes in 2009. ... The regional winners meets the Joliet Central Regional champion in the Collinsville Sectional semifinal on May 21.
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