Chris Smith's first trip out of the country has him ready for more.
Smith, a 2020 graduate of North Forsyth, traveled to Portugal last month to represent the United States in the Lisbon Cup, which featured lacrosse teams from countries across Europe.
The United States went 3-1 in the tournament, collecting wins against Portugal and Spain to reach the championship match, where they fell to Italy.
“For me, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Smith said. "I mean, how often do you get to say you went and played lacrosse in another country?”
The trip was initially planned for Ireland last summer, which would have coincided with Smith's high school graduation.
But the COVID-19 pandemic postponed that trip, and after a second postponement this year, Smith's first foray into international lacrosse was set for Portugal.
“It’s a beautiful country," Smith said. "The people are really nice and the food is amazing. Over there they’re known for their seafood, so it’s like calamari, fish, crab legs – anything you could think of with seafood was really big over there.”
Fellow North Forsyth grad James Vincent also played on the team. Smith said the two have been close friend since fourth grade.
“There was a total of five kids that I knew on the whole trip," Smith said. "It wasn’t like you were meeting new people and didn’t know anybody. Pretty much the first day we got there we all go along. From day one, we were all joking around with each other and messing around. It was like we all met each other before the trip even started.”
The team had plenty of time to get acclimated. After a three-hour bus ride from the airport in Lisbon, they spent three days in Spain, where they spent time at the beach and toured castles.
June 26 marked the first day of competition, which saw the United States beat Portugal 11-1, then Spain 6-5 to reach the semifinals, where they knocked off Spain again, 2-1.
The United States ended its run in the championship match with a 10-5 loss to Italy. Smith scored three goals in the match and was named the championship game's most valuable player.
“Personally, I feel like I could have done better," Smith said. "I’m not a big one-person guy. I couldn’t have gotten it just because of me doing something; it’s all my teammates helping me and my coaches.”
Smith, a rising sophomore at Montreat College, will head back to North Carolina in the fall but hopes to return to international competition in the future.
“I hope to go on this trip again," Smith said. "They’re planning on doing it again next year, so if I can get on it and do it next year, I’d gladly do it again.”