Lynch and Steeves Now Share a Championship Bond
Dec 31, 2018 06:00AM
● By Kenneth Hamwey
In the midst of her triumphant team members, Bellingham's Katie Lynch holds the plaque for the first-ever soccer championship won by Mount St. Charles
written by KEN HAMWEY, Bulletin Sports Editor
Katie Lynch and Natalie Steeves have a lot in common, but the way these two Bellingham natives wrapped up their varsity soccer careers at Mount St. Charles and Blackstone Valley Tech, respectively, not only had a happy ending, but it also put them directly in the spotlight.
Lynch and Steeves were born and raised in Bellingham, both went to South Elementary and the Memorial Middle School, and then both opted to attend high school elsewhere. They played youth soccer in Bellingham and later sharpened their skills at the club level. The girls, who are 18-year-old seniors and played as midfielders, live about five minutes from each other and they’ve remained friendly.
When Massachusetts and Rhode Island conducted their interscholastic soccer tournaments last November, Lynch and Steeves saved their best for last.
The 5-foot-2 Lynch scored the tying goal in the State final against Pilgrim High of Warwick, forcing two overtimes. With the score still knotted at 2-2, after the o.t. sessions, penalty kicks were needed to determine the outcome. Lynch connected on Mount’s first attempt, getting her second goal of the contest, and her team eventually won, 4-2, capturing the first State title in Mount’s history. MSC advanced to the State final by defeating West Warwick and Moses Brown.
Lynch’s first goal was a hard shot from 18 yards out, beating the goalie to the lower left. Her penalty-kick goal beat the goalie again on the left.
“Getting the first penalty-kick goal helped get us off to a positive start,” said Lynch, who also excels in basketball and lacrosse. “Winning the State title is the top thrill of my career. It’s the icing on the cake. A lot of hard work at practice is what led to this accomplishment, and it’s a big deal to have helped win the first girls State championship in soccer for Mount.”
Lynch, whose style focuses on patience and adept passing, has all the attributes needed for success. She may not be fast but she’s a smart player, definitely a competitor with a high soccer IQ. She’s also instinctive and has superb field sense. “I like to pass the ball, and my shot is hard off my left foot,” Lynch added.
The outcome for BVT and the 5-foot-5 Steeves (pictured right) also had some drama. No vocational school had ever won the Central Mass. Division 3 Sectional Tournament but, when the Beavers blanked rival Nipmuc, 1-0, thanks to Steeves’ goal, BVT shattered the voke-school jinx and was finally in line to order a championship banner. The Sectional crown may not be as dynamic as a State title, but for Steeves it provided lots of joy.
“It was such a thrill to win the Sectional,” Steeves said. “All the seniors were so happy, jumping up and down at the end. We were so pleased because we all knew this was our last year playing together.”
BVT advanced to the State semifinals but lost to South Hadley, the western section champion. The Beavers arrived at the Sectional final by downing Bay Path, Quabbin and Sutton, and it was Steeves’ stellar play during the season that helped the Beavers to eventually face off against Nipmuc.
An aggressive play-maker who scored eight goals as a center midfielder, Steeves relied on a plethora of assets. “I’d like to think that my strengths include endurance, mental toughness, a solid soccer IQ, field awareness and quickness in transition,” she said.
Steeves scored the game-winner with six minutes left in regulation. “I sprinted toward the goal, took a pass from Emma Ballard and beat the goalie from about seven feet out,” Steeves recalled. “That game will always be so memorable. It was my best overall effort.”
The future for both girls no doubt will be bright because both are good students (Steeves is a National Honor Society member). Lynch isn’t sure where she’ll attend college but plans to major in marketing, possibly at Roger Williams University. Steeves, whose course focus at BVT is in culinary arts, plans to attend Johnson & Wales and major in food science.
Neither is definite about playing sports in college. Steeves would zero in on soccer but Lynch could choose soccer, lacrosse or basketball. She’s a high-scoring point guard who averaged 15 points as a junior and is only 300 points shy of 1,000. A four-year varsity player in three sports, she scored 50 goals last year in lacrosse as a midfielder. Lynch also has been a captain in all three sports.
Natalie Steeves led BVT to win the Central MA sectional crown—a first for all vocational schools in Division 3
Both Lynch and Steeves are on the same page as competitors. They play to win but they also strive to reach their potential and to enjoy their athletic experiences, and both girls understand the valuable life lessons that sports can provide.
“Athletics teaches the value of teamwork,” Lynch said. “Respect for coaches and teammates also can be learned along with being able to overcome problems or adverse situations. Our soccer coach (Phil Pincince) stressed that it’s ‘we not me’ when we compete.”
Steeves says sports have helped her to better organize and manage her time. “Sports also help to build relationships, to be resilient, to overcome adversity and to be responsible,” she emphasized.
Katie Lynch and Natalie Steeves do indeed have a lot in common. They’ve traveled similar paths and they’ve excelled at the most opportune time by helping their schools capture soccer championships.
They’re not only top-notch student-athletes, but they’re also dynamic ambassadors for Mount St. Charles and Blackstone Valley Tech.