By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/24/12
Dale Smith endured his share of adversity in his two years at Onondaga Community College (N.Y.), and this spring his perseverance paid off.
Smith, a Ridley graduate, returned from a serious illness and a major injury and played a key role as a second-line midfielder for Onondaga, a Syracuse power that won its fourth straight National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championship.
Onondaga defeated Nassau County Community College (N.Y.), 15-6, to claim the crown last month and extend its winning streak to an amazing 52 games.
Smith finished with 10 goals. Not bad for the only Philly guy to head north to Onondaga in a long time. And not bad for a player who missed his freshman season with mononucleosis and last year’s fall ball season with a broken wrist.
Smith got cleared to play just as practice began for the 2012 season and he emerged as a major contributor for a team that has won six of the last seven National Juco championships with players from Upstate New York, Native American reservations and also from many non-traditional lacrosse regions.
“I was bummed that I couldn’t play as a freshman,” he said. “But this year was more than I could expect.
“I had a great time with all my friends on the team. And in the championship game it was pretty intense. We were only up by two at halftime and then we put it away in the second half, but I was glad (it was close). It was a fun game
“It was pretty surreal, when look at the fact we have kids from Washington, Hawaii and Florida and players from Canada and from reservations.”
Smith said returning from the broken wrist was a challenge at first, but he quickly regained his form.
“I got cleared to play over the winter break,” he said. “I have a rod in my wrist that’s going to stay forever, but only when it’s cold did it hurt. Still, it didn’t bother me during the season.”
“I knew I could play (at that level) because I played in Fall Ball during freshman year and I just had to adjust when I came back,” he said. “I just needed to show I could withstand a check.
“I was a little scared of getting hurt right when I came back, but after that it was fine.”
Smith’s 2012 season went well enough for him to get interested from many Division III powers. This week he committed to Roanoke College.
At Onondaga, he took a regular shift as coach Chuck Wilbur gave many players a role by rotating his lines regularly.
“I played on either the second or third line and I got time on man up and different situations,” he said. “The backups played just as much as the starters because we would blow teams out. Everyone got equal time, and coach Wilbur stresses getting the ball out of the stick.
“We played an up tempo and we were so fast that teams couldn’t keep up with us.”