Margaret Saurin must know the road to Columbus by now.
The IPFW women’s soccer coach has secured four commitments from Columbus girls in the past two years. The latest is from East senior Olivia Smith, who plans to join the Mastodons in 2014.
East’s Taylor Chitty and North’s Kelsie Carlson signed with IPFW in February 2012 and played there last fall, and North’s Malissa Hofmeister came on board this year. Chitty has since transferred to Florida Southern.
“There’s definitely a lot of talent in the Columbus area,” East coach Ilya Schwartzman said. “It does speak volumes for the quality of soccer players we turn out. It also speaks highly of the students we have because they’re looking for good students. It’s a good engineering school, which is what a lot of these kids are looking at.”
That includes Smith, who carries a 3.89 grade-point average.
“I like the coaching staff, and I love the school,” Smith said. “I’m looking to go into engineering, and it was a place where I can do both engineering and play soccer.”
Smith also likes the fact that she’ll know at least a few people on campus.
Besides the soccer players, East graduate Courtney Ogle is a sophomore on the women’s basketball team, and East’s Allyson Bunch is headed there next year to play basketball.
“It’s a good plus,” Smith said. “I didn’t take it into consideration, but it will definitely be helpful. It will make the transition easier.”
Smith was also considering Cincinnati. She can sign her national letter-of-intent in February.
“From a school perspective, I think it’s a great fit for her,” Schwartzman said. “She’s a player that can fit any system with her dedication and attitude.”
Schwartzman has mainly used Smith as an outside back but also as a center back and outside midfielder.
“She’s a great defender,” Schwartzman said. “She’s tenacious, aggressive, has speed strength, all the characteristics you’re looking for in a defensive back. She has soccer intelligence, understands the game well and is overall a very skilled player.
“She’s a very quiet leader, but she leads by example,” he said.
Smith also plays a defensive role for her Indianapolis Dynamo club team.
“I really like defense,” Smith said. “It’s where I feel the most comfortable.”
Last fall, Smith netted two goals and four assists from her defensive position in helping the Olympians to a 16-2-1 record and a Hoosier Hills Conference title. Schwartzman plans to have her more involved in the offensive attack this season.
They hope that leads to a long postseason run in October.
“We’re going to try to go as far as we can and grow on and off the field and get stronger,” Smith said.