After guiding the Archers to a 7-12-2 record in his first season as a head coach, Tim Mosby spoke of the need to expand the program's reach in recruiting. He did that in 2015, reaching all the way across 'The Pond' to England for reinforcements. The Archers added a half-dozen British natives to help re-build their roster this fall—midfielders Dillon Smith, Pelius Britto, Jr., and Charlie Maddison, forward Adam DuToit and defenders Alfie Fletcher, Casey Bartlett Scott—and have reaped significant benefits.
Smith was not necessarily viewed as the top prospect among British Invasion at STLCC, initially. He wasn't the biggest, the fastest, or the most physically gifted of the first-year Archers. However, there has arguably been no one who has been more instrumental in the Archers' early-season return to prominence. Smith leads the Archers with 12 goals, a figure that ranks second nationally.
"I'm just being involved with the boys and I've just tried to play my game and find the net," Smith said. "I just take every ball as it comes."
The ball has been finding Smith in a favorable spot throughout his first season with the Archers, despite him taking a bit of an adjustment period to adapt to the American style of soccer. The adjustment has been a change of pace for each of the English Six, and making changes together has eased the process for each of them.
"In England, it's a different style of play," Smith said. "We're really comfortable playing our style of game here. There's a lot more finesse over in England than here. Here, it's just, what you win is what you win. It's a lot more scrappy here."
STLCC has certainly done plenty of winning so far, whether it's an individual battle for a ball in the midfield or a key regional game. The Archers enter play against East Central College on Thursday at 7-2, and winners of five of their last six games.
The more scrappy nature of play has done nothing to slow Smith's success, as well as that of the Archers as a whole, through the first month of the season. Smith enters play on Thursday ranked fifth nationally with 26 total points, supplied by his 12 goals and two assists. Smith's goals have hardly been an example of piling on in blowouts, as well. His first four goals of the season—which were amassed in just three games—all either tied the game or gave the Archers the lead. Despite his early-season success, Smith gives an understated description of his overall game.
The same cannot be said for Mosby, who had difficulty finding offense during key moments a year ago, but has seen Smith and others quickly fill that void.
"The guy has a numb mind, and it doesn't matter if we're down 1-0, the pressure is on, there are two defenders on him," Mosby said. "He gets the job done. He's athletic, he's fast, and obviously, he's very skilled with the ball. Teams don't realize it until he's already scored. He's been a great addition at a spot we didn't have last year.
While Mosby entered the year enthusiastic regarding his class, even he had to admit Smith's production so far has been beyond anything he could have anticipated.
"He has surprised us," Mosby said. "He wasn't rated as highly as other guys, but he's definitely come out and surprised. He shows up in games and he finishes."
It's a trend Mosby and company would certainly enjoy seeing in the season's second half, as the Archers look to compete for a regional title for the first time in the 'STLCC Archers' era. While STLCC has enjoyed a storied history, particularly from its previous Florissant Valley and Meramec programs, men's soccer is currently in search of its first winning season under the district-wide banner, which began in 2011.
If that is to happen this fall, Smith will undoubtedly be a key part of the postseason run.