Sophomore Darian Smith (9) celebrates with her Smoky Hill teammates after scoring a goal in the third period of a game against the Poudre School District on Sept. 6, 2022, at Stutler Bowl. A 1-0 victory snapped a 75-game winless streak stretching back to 2016 for the program. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

GREENWOOD VILLAGE | The streak is over for the Smoky Hill field hockey team as the sweet taste of victory came Tuesday night.

The Buffaloes triumphed 1-0 over the Poudre School District at Stutler Bowl to snap a winless stretch that went back 75 games, all the way to Oct. 8, 2016, when they defeated Cheyenne Mountain 2-1.

Smoky Hill was 0-74-1 since that victory, but snapped the streak as sophomore Darian Smith’s transition goal with less than two minutes gone in the third period held up to the final horn. The Buffaloes improved 1-5 on the season under new coach Lisa Griffiths.

“They knew they hadn’t won a game in six seasons, but I don’t know if they knew the exact total,” Griffiths told the Sentinel. “It was pretty unbelievable. …When the game was over, they celebrated like they won the national championship. They were going wild.”

The Buffaloes — a co-op team that also includes athletes from Cherokee Trail and Eaglecrest this season — celebrated wildly and for good reason.

Holdovers from last season remember a campaign in which they finished 0-14 and scored just a single goal, while allowing 74. That came in the wake of an 0-8 mark in the coronavirus pandemic-shortened 2020 season, 0-15 in 2019 (when they also scored just one goal), 0-13-1 in 2018, 0-15 in 2017 and a 4-10-1 season in 2016 in which they lost the last four games of the season after their win over Cheyenne Mountain.

Griffiths — a native of Australia — had previous coaching stops at Mountain Vista, Palmer Ridge and Cherry Creek, where she was an assistant before she applied for and landed the Smoky Hill job for this season.

She took over in April and had 20-25 players throughout the summer activity, which surprised even her given the program’s lack of recent success.

“Me personally, I don’t understand how they kept coming back (in past seasons),” she said. “But this is just a positive bunch of kids.”

Griffiths and her new staff focused more on developing skills than on fitness and she believes she has seen it pay off in the first handful of games. The Buffaloes lost their opener by just one goal (2-1 to Dakota Ridge) and then had three tough contests against two-time defending state champion Regis Jesuit, Kent Denver, Arapahoe and Denver East.

Smoky Hill put it all together against the Poudre School District team that came in off a 2-0 win over Grandview in its previous game. The Buffaloes’ defense kept goalie Meghan Bird — who had made a whopping 93 saves in the first five games — from touching the ball, while Smith took care of the offense by scoring the team’s first goal since sophomore Elyse Bailey scored in the season-opener.

The sophomore pushed the ball up the field through multiple defenders and pushed a shot across the front of the goal that made it in and ignited a large celebration. The score held up the rest of the way.

Griffiths believes the win won’t be an isolated incident, as she could see the team winning two to three more games and possibly qualifying for the postseason.

“Initially, I didn’t think so, but the more games we play, I see the growth,” she said. “I’m 100 percent confident we can get at least two more wins this season.”

Next up for Smoky Hill is a 4:30 p.m. game Friday against Palmer Ridge (3-2).

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

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