Family more than a metaphor for Greensburg Salem girls soccer

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Monday, October 4, 2021 | 5:22 PM


“Hop in,” Kylie Smith tells her teammates as she picks them up to go to a game.

But these aren’t just teammates filling up her vehicle. No, this trip is all relative.

There’s two sisters and two cousins joining her, just like they do in the starting lineup for the Greensburg Salem girls soccer team.

A senior, Smith is the ringleader and top goal-scorer for a team that takes the oft-used “family” cliche to another level.

“It’s been so much fun,” Smith said. “We talked about it maybe two years ago that we’d have the chance to play together. We’re all excited that all five of us can be out there together.”

Ashley Smith is a junior and Olivia Smith is a freshman, giving Greensburg Salem a sibling trio packed with scoring ability.

Sophomore Taylor Carr and her sister, Brianna, a freshman, are cousins to the Smiths.

“It’s been really fun,” Taylor Carr said. “We were all looking forward to this season. It’s going to be sad when Kylie leaves. This is our last year with each other.

“We all pick each other up when we play.”

Athletics run in the Smith genes. The girls’ father is Billy Smith, a former standout wrestler at Greensburg Salem and West Virginia.

The Smith family owns a farm in Salem Township — Lone Star Dairy. The girls don’t have much time to kick soccer balls around the grounds; they get up early to milk hundreds of cows.

Wait, there’s more to this team’s family tree. There also is another pair of sisters in Hope and Grace Shrum, a freshman and sophomore who are key reserves.

“I knew a lot of these girls since they played in seventh grade,” Golden Lions coach Jessica Melodia said. “The girls like to have a good time at practice. But they get serious when it’s time to play. They are all such nice kids. The girls being related helps with the team dynamic. I am really proud of them.”

The Golden Lions are in the thick of the WPIAL Class 3A playoff chase. They were 5-4 overall and 5-2 in Section 2 with six section games to play. That is quite a turnaround after the team went 1-10-1 last season.

The team’s first winning season since 2014 is in reach.

“We just have to keep playing as hard as we can,” Kylie Smith said. “Playoffs would be amazing for us.”

Kylie Smith was leading the team with 19 goals. She scored five times against Uniontown.

“We work well together,” she said of her sisters and cousins. “We might yell at each other, but we know it’s just in the heat of the moment. It’s all right after the game.”

Melodia joined the team rather late in the game, taking over in early August after the resignation of Michael Rhea.

Her daughter, Maddy, is a senior forward/defender on the team who had team-high seven assists through eight games.

“The girls had a rough season last year,” Melodia said. “They came into the season thinking they were going to suffer the same fate. But they are learning how to play together and believing they can win.”

Coach Melodia, who played a few seasons with the Pittsburgh Passion women’s football team, also is a high school and college football official.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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