UNLV defender Grant Smyth fell in love with the team aspect of soccer early on, once he started playing at 4-years-old. This season marking his 16th year.
Smyth grew up in Las Vegas, playing on local teams including Downtown Las Vegas Soccer Club, during their run to the 2018 USYS National Championship Match.
During high school, he attended and played for Coronado High School, helping the team win the 2017 state title while posting seven goals and 16 assists for 30 points his senior year.
For his freshman year of college, Smyth attended Notre Dame de Namur in Belmont, California, where he started in all 28 games. The following year, he transferred to UNLV to play Division I soccer, but only appeared in three games for the Rebels. It marked the first time in his career that he wasn’t a starter.
"I always wanted to play for UNLV. I grew up watching them play so to be able to play in front of my home city is just great,” Smyth said. “The players would walk off and I’d ask for signatures and it’s just amazing that I’ve become one of those players now.”
As a junior on the team, he was able to play through college-level games pre-pandemic and has managed to adjust to the shortened, COVID restricted season.
The team gets tested three times a week, and with one positive test, everything would shut down for two weeks to prevent further spread. The Rebels have been lucky enough to avoid any shutdowns, during their spring 2021 season.
Smyth has only started in two out of the seven games played this year, but appeared in six of those seven. In the most recent game the Rebels played against California Baptist, he was out with a sprained ankle but returned to practice three days later.
The game against Utah Valley was his longest played this season, as he played the full 96 minutes from regulation to overtime. Even after spraining his ankle during the game, he stayed in to play those crucial minutes for the Rebels, as the team rose to victory.
"College practices are a lot more demanding. I would do weights on my own in high school, but it wasn’t a requirement for practice,” he said. “It’s definitely tough, especially after the pandemic and having a lot of time off and not being able to play a game in over a year and a half.”
Through the ups and downs of the year, the Rebels have been able to keep a clean sheet at home, as they defend Johann Memorial Field.
The UNLV men’s team has demonstrated an amazing defensive line on the field, including Smyth’s ability to keep the ball flowing forward to the team’s strikers, as they’ve managed to prevent every opponent from scoring a single goal at home.
Smyth looks forward to continuing to work hard and prove himself on the field as this season begins to wind down and the start of his senior season inches closer day by day.