University of Maine field hockey center back Poppy Lambert in a 2021 file photo. Credit: Courtesy of Seth Poplaski

Leslie Smith has joined the University of Maine’s field hockey coaching staff after spending the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Providence College.

This will be the first time the UMaine program has had two paid full-time assistants, with Smith joining associate head coach Michelle Simpson, who is in her seventh year at UMaine. Brooke Sulinski was a volunteer graduate assistant last fall.

The 31-year-old Smith, a former two-time All-Big Ten player at the University of Michigan, was the defensive strategist for the Friars and was also involved in recruiting and alumni outreach.

She worked under head coach Diane Madl, who spent nine seasons as an assistant coach at UMaine before becoming the head coach at Providence in 2002.

Smith also worked as an assistant coach at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, Colby College in Waterville and Middlebury College in Vermont.

The Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, native was a first team All-Big Ten selection in 2014 when she led the Wolverines in goals with 14. She was also an All-West Regional/National Field Hockey Coaches Association first team pick. She had been a second team selection in each in 2012.

Babineau said she is “excited” to have Smith as the program’s second assistant coach.

“She has coached at a number of different schools, she is competitive and she likes the game a lot just like Michelle and I do,” said Babineau. “This is a good fit for her.”

Babineau said it has been challenging to work one-on-one with players during the season with just her and Simpson as full-time coaches and that Smith enjoys doing that kind of additional work with players.

“We are thrilled to have a coach of her experience level and talent join our Black Bear program,” Babineau added.

She said Smith will be heavily involved in video and in recruiting.

The Black Bears, coming off back-to-back America East regular season championships, will be playing in their new stadium this season. Their tournament title in 2021 earned them their first NCAA Tournament berth.

The 110,000-square-foot UMaine Field Hockey Complex is expected to be completed early next month. It will include a two-tier synthetic turf surface with irrigation, bleacher seating for up to 500 fans and a two-story press box flanked by spacious team areas.

“The facility is going to be amazing. It exceeds my expectations,” said Babineau.

UMaine will play its first game on the new field at 1 p.m. Aug. 19, in an exhibition contest against Merrimack. The Black Bears will play their regular season opener at home against Boston College at 1 p.m. Aug. 25.