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Archers’ Smugala signs with McKendree University

February 21, 2014

Jessica Smugala  
Jessica Smugala, center, signs a letter of intent to play
soccer at McKendree University. She is flanked by Alex
McDonald, left, assistant coach, and head coach Juergen

For those who followed the St. Louis Community College women’s soccer team closely over the past two seasons, there was little doubt that forward Jessica Smugala would continue her collegiate soccer career at a four-year program. The only question was where.

Smugala answered that question this week, when she signed her letter of intent to McKendree University. In doing so, she becomes the sixth member of last year’s national tournament-qualifying team to continue her career elsewhere.

In her two seasons with the Archers, Smugala scored more than any other player since STLCC moved to a districtwide athletics program in 2010, finishing with 32 career goals, including a team-record 20 in 2013.

Smugala cited the relationships built over her two seasons at STLCC as what she takes away the most from her time with the Archers. Smugala certainly played a key role in developing the team chemistry that became a hallmark of both NJCAA Tournament appearances during her tenure, as she served as the team’s captain in her sophomore year.

While head coach Juergen Huettner has been tasked with replacing multiple talented players in recent years, rarely has an individual provided both the level of production on the field, as well as the leadership off of it, as Smugala has during the past two seasons. Huettner referenced Smugala’s leadership style as perhaps her most valued asset during her time at STLCC, even when she and the Archers’ coach failed to reach consensus.

“That’s obviously part of it,” Huettner said in regard to the difficulty of replacing Smugala’s leadership. “The thing about Jessica is, we didn’t always agree, and she was very up front about the way she thought things should be done. You want that, to have a player who speaks her mind the way she did.”