Whitby soccer star signs pro contract with Portuguese club

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Published July 25, 2023 at 2:21 pm

Photo Canada Soccer

Whitby soccer star Olivia Smith, currently in Australia with Canada’s national team at the World Cup, has signed with Portugal’s Sporting CP through 2025.

Smith, who can play both forward and attacking midfielder, has been one of Canada’s top prospects for several years and became the youngest player ever capped for Canada when she suited up for two games as a 15 year-old in a tournament in China in November 2019.

Smith’s first game for the senior national team was against Brazil and her idol Marta, who she had met as an 11 year-old in Montreal at the 2015 World Cup.

She was named Canada’s top youth international that year and as a Canada youth player Smith is in rarified air with 24 career goals, second only to the legendary Christine Sinclair’s 27.

While the 18 year-old was not on the preliminary senior team roster for the World Cup, Smith played her way onto the squad and was named to the team by national team coach Bev Priestman; the youngest player selected. With Canada in need of some goals as they prepare for tomorrow’s second tournament game, she may make an appearance sooner rather than later.

Smith played for Penn State in the NCAA in the fall of 2022 but announced recently that she planned to leave school and turn pro.

“To be honest, she’s been absolutely outstanding,” Canada coach Bev Priestman said in naming her to the roster. “I can tell the players are blown away with her impact coming in.

“She very much earned this call-up,” Priestman added. “She very much has held her own in this environment … she was exciting from the minute she came in.”

Smith follows fellow Canadian Cloe Lacasse to the Portuguese women’s league. Lacasse, also at the World Cup, won titles with Benfica and was named the Portugal league’s top player before signing with Arsenal in England’s Premier League in late June.

Smith, who scored four goals for Canada in the recent CONCACAF U20 Championships – including the crucial tying goal in Canada’s come from behind 5-3 extra time win over Costa Rica to send the red and white to next year’s U20 World Cup – made the decision in early June to forgo the rest of her NCAA scholarship at Penn State and turn pro.

“The time is now,” Smith told Canpl.ca contributor Benedict Rhodes in an interview posted on Twitter. “Soccer-wise, I’m ready,” she said in the interview. “It’s been a dream of mine to play pro overseas and I think the time is right now.”

Smith, who made 16 appearances at Penn State last season, first played house league with Whitby Soccer, before playing at the competitive level with Oshawa Kicks, Ajax and Markham FC.

She played last summer with the North Toronto Nitros of League 1 Ontario, where she was named Young Player of the Season and Forward of the Year, winning the Golden Boot with 18 goals in just 11 games.

With files from Canadian Press

Photo Canadian Press

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