Her hair color has changed, but Cayla Smith is still scoring goals from her forward spot on the Mountain Pointe girls soccer team.
“I’ve always played forward, and I’m comfortable there,” said the Pride senior, who switched from being a blonde to a brunette last year.
It was one of the few alterations Smith has made since she started playing soccer as a 6-year-old.
“I guess I wanted a change,” Smith said.
Mountain Pointe coach Mark Wilson hasn’t modified her role on the Pride team much, either.
Wilson likes to move players around during the season, but he has been keeping her at the forward position, occasionally moving her back to midfield, most of this year.
But change doesn’t come easy for Smith, including her hair color.
“I’m naturally a blonde,” she said, “but before the first game of our playoffs last year I decided to dye it brown. The dye didn’t come out right, and it turned out to be more maroon.”
At least she stayed with one of the Pride’s primary colors.
Smith’s speed also earned her a spot on the Pride girls track team, but two high ankle sprains in her right ankle last spring had her off the track and the soccer field from February through August.
“She’s been broken, so I’ve been trying to play her enough to keep her in shape,” Wilson said, “but at the same time, hopefully get her healed in time for state.”
Wilson had also been shuttling senior midfielder Gina Buschatzke in and out of the lineup while she recovered from a medial collateral ligament tear in her right knee from the Mesa Dobson soccer tournament over the Christmas break last year.
“They’re both crucial,” Wilson said.
Smith is a year-round player who got involved with soccer early.
“I was kind of an active kid like my brother who played football at Mountain Pointe,” she explained. “I think I tried almost every sport there was, but I liked soccer from the first day I tried it.”
Smith started playing on a YMCA team, and when she was 8 she was recruited for a club team that included several players who play or have played for rival Desert Vista.
Smith continues to be a year-round player who is involved in club soccer during the high school off-season.
But she also saw limited playing time after the club season resumed in August.
“Even after club started this fall, I really didn’t play that much,” she said.
Last season Smith scored 13 goals, had nine assists and had a team-high 35 points playing up front with Colleen Musgrove.
Before Musgrove graduated last spring she had scored a team-high 14 goals and had six assists, and the duo accounted for 27 of the Pride’s 46 goals.
“We were friends, too, so we had that chemistry last year,” Smith said. “Having someone else up there is different, but we’re all close friends on the team, too, so it wasn’t hard to get used to.”
This season Smith has been nursing a sore right foot.
But It would be a mistake to call her hobbled.
Smith has scored a team-high six goals, has two assists and piled up 14 points after seeing a limited amount of minutes early in the season.
“It’s kind of hard to heel something that doesn’t want to heel in a short amount of time, but I’m trying to do as much as I can,” she said.