Friends and family celebrate Sophia Smith’s return to Colorado with the USWNT – Greeley Tribune
COMMERCE CITY — Jeremy Brandon laughed as he recalled all the times he used to excuse Sophia Smith from her class so she could go to soccer camps and tournaments.
Now, all these years later, the Fossil Ridge High School Spanish teacher can only marvel at what all those extra hours in the field have produced.
Brandon was among 17,143 people who crammed into Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night to watch the United States Women’s National Team’s first game in Colorado since 2019 – a 3-0 win over Colombia in a an international friendly football match.
What they witnessed was a fairy tale night for Smith, the Windsor native who scored twice in her first appearance in front of friends and family in her home state as part of the USWNT .
“I saw people I hadn’t seen in years, it was amazing to see that support,” Smith said. “Scoring two goals was the icing on the cake and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to play in front of the people I love.”
It was a looping moment for Smith and his family, including his sisters Savannah and Gabrielle Smith, who were in the stands cheering on their younger sibling.
“It’s so exciting, I’m so emotional,” Savannah Smith said before the game. “I remember she used to play here when she was little, so it’s fun to watch her grow up and play at such a high level. She’s wanted to be here since she was a little girl.
Brandon added, “I know it’s huge for her to have everyone here and I know her family is so supportive of her, so it’s really cool to be a part of that.”
Smith was one of three Colorado natives in the starting XI on Saturday night, with Highlands Ranch’s Mallory Pugh and Golden’s Lindsay Horan also making returns to the Centennial State. Former CU Buffs midfielder Taylor Kornieck also appeared and scored the USWNT’s third and final goal in overtime to cap off his own special comeback.
Pugh also scored twice during a USWNT appearance at Dicks Sporting Goods Park, so she could relate to the emotions Smith felt during her performance on Saturday night.
“I’m so happy for Soph,” Pugh said. “I think any time you can come home and play like that, it’s super special.”
Of course, it was also a special night for those who knew Smith before she rose to football stardom.
Brandon said he’s followed Smith’s career every step of the way since he was his Spanish teacher during his first, second and third years at Fossil Ridge.
Brandon remembered her as a kind and shy student in high school and he loved watching her grow into one of the top players on a loaded American roster. He said he and Smith always stayed in touch and she would always respond when he congratulated her on a game or a goal.
“It’s really cool that she’s come this far but is still the same person,” Brandon said.