Los Angeles Times

CdM believes in 'Bean'

Go to a Corona del Mar High girls' lacrosse game, and you probably won't hear the name "Sabrina" uttered once by any of the Sea Kings.

Senior Sabrina Smith? She goes by "Bean," a funny nickname for the tall and slender Smith, who stands 5-foot-10.

When she was a baby Smith's parents, Todd and Sherry, called her "Sabrina Bo-Bina," which was soon shortened to "Bean." Then, in first grade, there was another Sabrina in her class at Harbor View Elementary. The teacher asked if either of the girls had a nickname.

"I said my nickname was 'Bean,' and it pretty much stuck from there," Sabrina Smith said. "Everyone that was in that class started calling me "Bean," and it just spread. It's pretty funny. My friends or my sister will introduce me as 'Bean.'"

But Smith is much more than just a nickname to the Sea Kings. Her presence amounts to much more than just a hill of beans.

The four-year varsity player is one of four team captains for CdM (13-3). She moved from midfielder to attack this year, partly so she wouldn't have to run as much as she has dealt with plantar fasciitis and shin splints.

Smith, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week, has played through the pain. Through Monday's league victory over Woodbridge, she has delivered 37 goals and 17 assists this year. She also has stepped up as the primary draw taker this year, taking over for graduate Molly Rovzar, who now plays at University of Colorado Boulder.

Through Monday, Smith had controlled 56 draws. If the ball goes in the air off the draw, Smith has an advantage with her height. If it doesn't, she can usually trust fellow senior captain Jamie Smith or sophomore Payton Carter to scoop up the ball.

"We've focused on draws a lot this year," Sabrina Smith said. "I couldn't do it alone, obviously ... I really trust them when they're on the circle."

The soft-spoken Smith is quick to spread the praise around. But individually, she had one of her best games as the Sea Kings shocked Foothill, 16-15, on April 14. It was a stunning upset of the No. 1-ranked team in the state by laxpower.com, and Smith played a big role.

She scored a season-high five goals, including the game-winner off an eight-meter shot with 36 seconds left. The total tied her for game-high honors with fellow senior captain Kacie Kline, and CdM escaped with the one-goal upset victory.

Coach Aly Simons, for one, was not surprised that "Bean" would deliver.

"She always has this calm composure," Simons said. "When she has the ball, I never see her get worked up. I never see her become disoriented."

Smith said that she sees her role on the team as being able to keep people calm. She said she enjoys helping people through problems, and encouraging them.

In terms of the team's results, Smith has been more than encouraged. Senior year is going better than the four captains, also including Kendall Mulvaney, could have dreamed. They have known each other for a long time because of sports, soccer and basketball at first. Now they are helping the girls' lacrosse team make history.

CdM is on a 11-game winning streak. The Sea Kings have upped their rankings to No. 2 in Orange County by the Register and No. 5 in Southern California by laxpower.com, higher than they ever have been before. If the Sea Kings win a key league game at Beckman on Monday at 4 p.m., they can wrestle the outright league title away from the Patriots for the first time in program history as well.

"Lacrosse over the years has become such a bigger sport in this area overall," Sabrina Smith said. "I think it's amazing that I was able to be a [part] of that and see it all happen. It's just so cool, to have been on this team for four years and finally be in the spot we're in."

For "Bean," who started with the Newport Wedge youth program in fifth grade, this certainly is a long time coming. Her and her older sister Gabby started the sport around the same time, though it was "Bean" who had the first interest in playing.

She remains very close with Gabby. In Gabby's senior year two years ago, she helped the Sea Kings pull a string of upsets to advance to the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division title game. Sabrina played a key role on that team as well as a sophomore, but now it is her turn to shine as a senior.

Gabby, who played lacrosse at Chapman University as a freshman last year, has kept up with the CdM program. The players called her after they upset Foothill last week. It was part of a big week overall, also including a nonleague road win at Temecula Valley and the team's sixth straight Battle of the Bay win. Sabrina Smith had two goals and an assist as CdM topped Newport Harbor, 16-6.

Again, "Bean" is quick to credit other players on the team, like the underclassmen. The Sea Kings have five freshmen on the team, and four are starting. Kennedy and Katherine Mulvaney, as well as Katie McCabe and defender Jensen Coop, have been key players for the Sea Kings. The final freshman, Lindsie Hoffman, backs up senior Kate Allen in goal.

And Carter has been on a scoring spree lately. Sabrina Smith knows that these developments bode well for the future of the program.

"We knew we were going to be a good team, but I don't think we realized how much potential we had coming into the season," she said. "We lost a lot of seniors, but we didn't really factor in how many amazing freshmen were coming in this year ... It's really cool to see. It makes you realize that the program has so many years that it's going to be good, if we have these freshmen coming in that are amazing players."

They are the next generation of CdM girls' lacrosse players. But the current generation can still go out with a bang, beating Beckman again and making a deep playoff run.

The game on Monday at the Patriots' field is huge. Beckman is currently ranked No. 6 by laxpower.com, right behind CdM. The Sea Kings came out strong the first time the teams played on April 2, hanging on for a 15-11 victory at CdM.

"I think it's going to be a really fun game," Smith said. "We're really trying to prepare this week, and obviously not let it go to our heads, our rankings. We're going to come out strong and hopefully come out with a win."

Sabrina Smith

Born: July 8, 1996

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 5-foot-10

Sport: Lacrosse

Year: Senior

Coach: Aly Simons

Favorite food: Mexican food

Favorite movie: "50 First Dates"

Favorite athletic moment: Helping CdM upset Foothill, 16-15, last week. The Knights were the top-ranked team in the state.

Week in review: Smith shared game-high honors with five goals as CdM upset Foothill on April 14. She had two goals in a road win against Temecula Valley two days later, and had two goals and an assist at CdM beat Newport Harbor, 16-6, in the Battle of the Bay on April 18.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times