(Photo Courtesy of Delaware Athletics)
The faceoff position in lacrosse as a whole has gone under an immense evolution over the past decade plus. From the further specialization and coaching of the position to rule changes that have brought new tactics to the faceoff dot, the position is not what is used to be.
Everyone knows how dominate Trevor Baptise and TD Ierlan were during their college careers. But one of the first true faceoff men who asserted his dominance and helped spark this trend towards FOGO’s during his college days was Delaware faceoff man Alex Smith.
A Timonium, Md. native and Boys Latin product, Smith was one of the first truly dominant faceoff men in college lacrosse, helping to pave the way for the position to become as crucial as it is today.
Over the course of his college career, Smith went 1,027-457 (.692%) at the faceoff dot and scooped up 553 ground balls. He set NCAA career records in faceoffs taken (1,484), faceoffs won, and career ground balls. All three records were broken by Bryant’s Kenny Massa in 2015 and are now held by either TD Ierlan or Trevor Baptiste. Smith also previously held NCAA records for faceoff wins and attempts in a single-season, as well.
While Smith’s entire career at Delaware was spectacular, his senior season in 2007 was perhaps his best and most memorable.
During that 2007 season Smith helped lead the Blue Hens to a CAA title, NCAA tournament berth, and their first and only appearance at Championship Weekend. The unseeded Blue Hens upset the No. 2 seeded and defending national champion Virginia Cavaliers on their field, 14-8, in the first round of the NCAA tournament. They went on to defeat UMBC, who had upset No. 7 seeded Maryland, by a score of 10-6 in the quarterfinals. The Blue Hens lost 8-3 in the semifinals to the eventual champion Johns Hopkins.
Smith went 311-119 at the faceoff dot (.723%) and recorded 170 ground balls during that historic 2007 season for the Blue Hens. He was the unrivaled star of that 2007 team, which also featured a freshman Curtis Dickson, Evan Washburn, Dan Decklebaum, and Jordan Hall.
In a New York Times article, Smith’s dominance and stardom was compared to a kicker leading an NFL team deep into the playoffs – which says a lot about how the faceoff position was looked at at the time and how far it has come, in part because of guys like Smith who took it to another level in the mid and late 2000s.