Team of the Decade: Kristina Peso
Completing our starting eleven, we welcome Kristina “Pace” Smith to our women’s Team of the Decade!
Kristina Smith (nee Peso), or Pace as we all like to call her, is quite possibly the classiest centre half you will ever see.
Upon arriving at the club from her native Canada, Kristina announced herself as a former winger/striker who had reinvented herself as a central defender. Not many players make the shift in that direction on the pitch purely out of choice, particularly when they are as quick and agile as Kristina is, but she genuinely delights in frustrating opposition forwards and bringing flair to the back line.
Kristina’s trademark move is to sit off her opponent and make them think they have time on the ball, only to nip in at the last second and stride speedily out of the back with the ball at her feet and the opposition in her wake.
Some may suggest (at their peril) that centre half is not a position from which you can express your creativity, but Kristina certainly puts that theory to bed. It’s testament to her outstanding ability that it’s actually not heart-stopping at all to watch her perform a Cruyff turn in her own 6-yard box with 3 attackers surrounding her; those who have had the pleasure of playing alongside her have every faith that she’ll emerge with the ball and reliably distribute it to a teammate.
Perhaps the most unique thing about Kristina, though, is that alongside the aforementioned creative abilities, she is also incredibly tough. Able to throw in a strong challenge where required, a great header of the ball, and always willing to put her body on the line for the team. A stand-out moment from the 2019 season was her double diving block on the line at Old Xaverians when we were down to 10 players and clinging to a slender lead. A season-defining moment from a season-defining player.
Kristina made her MUSC debut in 2016 and put in a vital contribution to the team’s 2nd place finish, and it was with great excitement that we welcomed her back in 2019 to lead the defence. With characteristic determination, she made sure she wouldn’t miss out on a winners medal this time around, stocking up the trophy cabinet with a league and grand final double, as well as the much-coveted Best and Fairest award in what was a fantastic season for her personally, and for the team.
Sadly for us Kristina made a well-timed pre-lockdown move up to Queensland where she continues her playing career, but there will always be a space at this club for such a special player and person if she ever makes her way back down to Melbourne.