Emma Smith did whatever was needed for the Burlington-Edison High School girls' soccer team.

She could score goals, tally assists or do just about anything else.

"Emma is certainly one of the most committed and talented players to ever play at Burlington-Edison High School," said Tigers coach Ryan Kuttel. "Everyone on the team would agree she is our best player. We could put her anywhere we needed and it made our team better."

For her outstanding efforts, Smith is the Skagit Valley Herald Girls' Soccer Player of the Year.

She led a Burlington-Edison team that finished 17-3-1 with 17 goals this season, but also finished her high school career with a school-record 41 assists.

Playing an unselfish style of soccer has been Smith's trademark. She said while she looked to take more shots this season, she also kept an eye out for open teammates.

"It is all about connections with your teammates," she said. "You have been playing with them for a long time and you know what runs they are going to make."

As in previous years, Smith played where her coaches thought her skills would best serve the team. That meant moving from midfielder to forward.

"Our coaches knew going into this season that filling the forward position was going to be important with a couple of forwards having graduated," she said. "So they moved me and honestly, that is the position I feel most comfortable in."

The adjustment wasn't too much for Smith, who also plays the center forward position on her Northwest United club team.

"It worked really well for the team and we made it work as a team," she said.

And the goals followed.

Smith gave credit to teammate Liz Cisneros who passed the ball to her on a consistent basis. Smith said, "She found me in the box a lot this season."

Being more aggressive up front played a major part in Smith's success as well.

"I learned you can't be afraid to take the shots because you just never know," Smith said. "I was more focused this season and more aggressive at forward."

Then there was the leadership aspect of her game.

Kuttel describes Smith as a leader in every sense of the word.

It's an area where Smith said she made the most improvement this season.

"Really, being able to step into that captain role and be a true leader for the underclassmen as well as the juniors was big," she said. "I just wanted us to have a successful season."

Smith is looking forward to continue playing soccer at Western Oregon University, taking her 3.87 GPA to Monmouth where she plans to possibly study physical education.

"I am so excited," she said. "I visited the campus and got to play with the team this summer. I visited a couple other places, but for me Western Oregon was better than the other options. I love the area, I love the atmosphere and it's close to home. I got a real positive vibe from the program."

— Reporter Vince Richardson: 360-416-2181, vrichardson@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter:@goskagit, Facebook.com/VinceReports/

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