Before every soccer game, sisters Ashlyn and Heidi Smith each eat a banana.
It’s widely accepted that bananas are healthy and very nutritious. They can help with muscle cramps and sleep.
This particular banana consumption is a superstition. And superstitions are strange, especially when one doesn’t particularly like bananas.
“Yeah, I actually really hate bananas but that’s the only time I’ll eat them,” Heidi said.
Smith is a freshman striker at Snow Canyon. Her older sister Ashlyn is a senior defender at Dixie High.
Initially, it wasn’t supposed to work out that way, but the Smith family moved from Dixie High’s boundaries into Snow Canyon’s boundaries.
It was hard on the girls at first as they dealt with the fact they wouldn’t be playing on the same team, and instead would line up against each other.
So when it came time for the Sept. 20 match between Snow Canyon and Dixie, there were some nerves. They didn’t come from either Ashlyn or Heidi. It mainly came from the girls’ father, Joseph Smith.
“I was (nervous), my stomach was in knots 24 hours before, I mean I couldn’t sleep, I was just like ‘Oh man,’” he said. “I think it was worse on me and my wife than it was for them.”
Ashlyn and Heidi were actually both very excited to play against each other. Several times, both Ashlyn and Heidi were chasing the ball down at the same time.
“I think she’s awesome and playing against her was a wonderful opportunity,” Ashlyn said. “It definitely tested me mentally and physically, but I loved it.”
Heidi has been a test, and a pest, for Region 9 defenders all season. She is currently tied for the first in the region with 13 goals.
“I was actually really excited, ’cause I know my sister’s one of the best defenders out there in Utah right now and I knew playing against her could make me better,” Heidi said.
Snow Canyon won the first meeting between the two teams, 2-1. Heidi scored in the first half.
Much to Joseph’s relief, the girls gave each other a huge after the game and there was no animosity between them.
Heidi has been one of the region’s biggest surprises and biggest stars.
Snow Canyon began this season needing to both reload and rebuild after the Warriors graduated several seniors from last season’s state semifinal team.
“She’s got tremendous instincts on the field, something that’s really difficult to coach, those natural instincts of where to be and what to do with the ball and she’s got those kinds of things,” Warriors head coach Kenny Kunde said.
Heidi got her chance and took it — like she has on the field in many critical games. She scored a hat trick against Mountain View in the Warriors’ fourth game of the year, and also scored an extra-time winner against Desert Hills.
The second time the Warriors and Flyers met, playoff seeding was on the line. Snow Canyon won 2-1, again, and as a result, Dixie didn’t make the playoffs.
But Ashlyn’s soccer career isn’t ending with the narrow playoff miss.
Ashlynn recently verbally committed to play college soccer for Chowan University, a small private NCAA Division II university in Murfreesboro, North Carolina.
This past summer, Ashlyn went to North Carolina for a soccer camp held at the University of North Carolina.
She actually wasn’t on the field when Chowan coach Chris White discovered her.
“I was walking and I had ice all over me, I was like really sore, and he was like, ‘Now that’s what I like to see!’” Ashlyn recalled after a recent game.
Ashlyn said White was very direct about the recruiting process.
“He goes, ‘Are you good?’ I was like ‘ Yeah, I’m good; come watch me play!’ And he was like, ‘OK, I’ll come watch you play,'” Ashlyn said.
White later invited her to North Carolina for a campus visit in September. So Ashlyn jumped on a red-eye flight after the Warriors beat Pine View and flew to North Carolina.
“I liked what I saw, I liked the morals of the team, everybody was great and I was like, you know what this is something I want to do,” Ashlyn said.
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr on Twitter @PatrickCarr_ and on Facebook at Facebook.com/PatrickJosephCarr1/ or call him at (435) 231-3834.