5:23 AM EDT, November 2, 2012
MISHAWAKA -- It's one thing to be a hard-working, low-profile, teammate-focused, key component of a state champion.
It's something totally different to pitch a shutout in the title game and to be misidentified from start to recap.
Devon Smith can smile about it now, but she took some pretty good teasing this week at school.
The junior goalkeeper for Marian's girls soccer team was on her game Saturday when the Knights captured the Class 1-A state championship with a 2-0 win over Clarksville Providence. Six saves. Solid effort. A few diving stops.
Yet, from the opening introductions before the game to the story in Sunday's Tribune, Smith was identified as Makaela Douglas, Marian's senior goalie with whom she split time this season.
Smith wears No. 00. Douglas wears No. 0. In the official program, neither's number is listed.
"Nobody (from the IHSAA) ever came and asked me for my starting lineup," said Marian coach Djamel Charmat.
"I thought it was strange when I was introduced as Makaela," Smith said.
Who cares? This was the moment she'd been waiting for all season. For as focused as she was on the task at hand, they could have called her John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt.
Smith and Douglas have shared the goalkeeping duties for the past two years. During the regular season, they divvy up playing time by halves. They flip-flop starting from game to game.
"The two of them get along so well," Charmat said. "The chemistry is great."
Once the tournament begins, Charmat makes the decision. He goes with the hot hand. Smith played well in a 4-1 semistate championship win over Fort Wayne Luers. Like normal, Smith found out shortly before the game she was going to start.
"(Smith's) performance has been peaking in the tournament," Charmat said. "Devon has stepped in and did a fantastic job."
Charmat's gut feeling paid off. Smith was solid, and, when necessary, spectacular.
With about five minutes left in the game and the title all but in hand, Charmat turned to Douglas to have her loosen up in order to finish her high school career on the field.
"Makaela said, 'I got to play the whole (state championship) game last year (when Marian was runner-up). Let Devon finish,'" Charmat said. "I almost had tears in my eyes. That's really a great relationship between the two of them."
"We cheer for each other," Smith said. "Whoever's in, the other's there for support. We know what the other's going through.
"Sometimes, it's hard to stand there and watch. But I've got faith in my teammates. Sometimes my job is to be a supporter."
Marian and Providence have already established historical significance within the IHSAA. They will be the first two teams to be elevated a class because of the success rule that was recently passed.
Teams are allotted points for winning each stage of the tournament. A state title is worth four points. In a two-year classification period, any team with six or more points has to move up a class for the next two years. Both Marian and Providence now have seven points and will play in Class 2-A next year.
"I got bored when we won by a lot," said Smith. "I'm looking forward to the tougher competition. It's more fun. You feel more involved."
"When the other team doesn't even get into the box, it can get kind of boring for the goalie," Charmat said. "Devon's someone who likes the action."
No matter the competition, it won't change the way Smith plays the game.
"As a goalie, you always have to be confident and aggressive," said Smith, a 3.5 student who started playing goalie at age 10 because she hated to run. "A goalie has to keep control of the game.
"I've learned to always trust myself; go with my first instinct. Let the experience I've had help me in a tough situation."
And hope they get her name right the next time.
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