The connection between Mackenzie Heldberg and Natalia Lynch goes as far back as kindergarten, so when one of the junior midfielders gets the ball, the other is confident that her best friend can finish the job, the girls said.
“When I look up, I know she’ll be there cutting and I know she does the same for me, so I think that’s the best friend thing,” Heldberg said of the connection. “We knew we were going to have to play hard, so it feels really good to take away the win.”
Smithtown West head coach Carie Bodo started off by addressing her previously 5-2 team before the game and telling them that it was a game of possession.
“Win the draw and take smart shots,” she said.
Her team did just that, as the Bulls topped the previously second-ranked North Babylon, 16-9.
In the first 10 minutes of the first half, Smithtown West rattled off six unanswered goals, with Heldberg tallying a hat trick and an assist, and Lynch adding a goal and an assist, before North Babylon scored its first goal.
“I think my team really came out with a lot of fire and we really wanted this, so it feels great to win,” Lynch said. “We knew that this game was really important to us, so once we got that lead, it really helped us.”
North Babylon managed to score just two goals before the halftime break, while the Bulls scored four more to break out to a 10-3 lead.
Heldberg remained strong on the draws, and gaining that possession at midfield proved to be the game-changer for Smithtown West.
“I think it’s a big aspect for possession and I think everyone is good at getting the loose ball of the draws, even in the air like Natalia [Lynch] did a few times,” Heldberg said. “I put them up to her and I know she’s going to get them, and having [Addie Stapleton] behind me helps, too.”
North Babylon scored the first two goals of the second half, but Smithtown West countered with another six-goal tare, with Heldberg and Lynch connecting for two of them, to bring the score to 16-5.
“We played together since second grade and ever since our first year together, we would always look for each other,” Lynch said. “She’s amazing on the draws and always knows where to put it to get it to me and sees me when I’m open, and I think that helps a lot with the connection that we have.”
North Babylon went on a 4-0 run to end the game, but the team’s comeback effort fell short.
Heldberg lead the team with five goals and two assists, while Lynch finished with two goals and four assists.
“I like passing it to my players,” Lynch said. “I have a lot of confidence in them when they get opened.”
Senior attack Kaitlin Unser and sophomore midfielder Kayla Kosubinsky finished with two goals and two assists apiece, and sophomore attack Chelsea Witteck tallied a hat trick in the win.
“We did exactly what we said we wanted to do,” Bodo said. “We wanted to fast break to them and we’re definitely a fast break team, so as soon as we win the center draw, we book it and it goes in.”
Once Smithtown West realized that North Babylon’s Ally Kennedy was the team’s scorer, after she scored the first six of her seven goals, the Bulls were able to isolate her and protect their lead.
One of the Bull’s greatest benefits came from multiple girls getting their names on the score sheet, with seven girls tallying goals and nine getting at least a point.
“If one of our girls get hurt or someone is having an off-game, someone else can step up, because everyone can score,” Lynch said. “There’s not one girl that is a weakness on the field and I think that’s a great thing.”