Boston High School: Kevin Macmillan

D1 boys soccer: Needham 1, Amherst 0

November, 16, 2012
WORCESTER, Mass. -- The Steeves family has a history with Worcester State University's Coughlin Field.

While he was a player for Needham, Jay Steeves, who currently serves as an assistant coach with the Rockets, lost a state final in the dying seconds on that very pitch.

On Friday night, his son Mac wrote a new history for himself and the Rockets.

Mac Steeves scored a stunning late goal to lift the Rockets (21-1-3) to a 1-0 victory over Amherst (12-3-5) and clinched the program’s fourth state title in its seventh championship game appearance.

In the process, Steeves cemented his legacy as the best soccer player in the long and proud history of Needham High.

Head coach Don Brock -- who is not only the soccer program’s only coach, but also its founder -- knew that Steeves would be able to come through for the team in the big game.

“To get the winning goal is pretty special," Brock said. "He’s been playing hurt. We got so beat up from the South (sectional) I’m surprised he played as well as he did, but he came through. He’s done it all year long.”

Following the game, a bruised and battered Steeves reflected on an amazing four year run at Needham High.

“It means a whole lot," he said. "I’m at a loss for words...I’m so excited right now. It’s a dream come true really. It’s amazing.”

The goal came with only 11 minutes remaining. Senior captain Will Corkery played a long ball over the top and Steeves raced alongside the last defender. With goalkeeper Curtis Barnes bearing down on him, Steeves lifted a high chip into the box that bounced once before ending up in the back of the net.

It was an instinctive play all-around. Steeves, who was injured in the collision with Barnes but returned to the game, could not describe the play in detail, but Corkery explained that it developed from years of playing togther.

“We’ve played with each other since fourth grade so we have great chemistry and that obviously showed there," Corkery said. "I didn’t even hear him yell, I just knew he’d be there.”

Despite Needham taking a late lead, Amherst continued to battle and with mere seconds remaining had another chance for Cody Baglow to get in another long flip-throw. The ball bounced of Rockets, Hurricanes, the referee, and then sat in the Needham penalty area for what felt like minutes before finally being cleared away.

As soon as the ball was rifled down field, the ref blew three short bursts and one long, shrill whistle sending the Needham bench and the huge contingent of Rockets fans storming onto the field.

Although the game ended in defeat, there was a lot of positives for head coach Mike Rudd and the rest of the Hurricanes to take from the game.

“I was very proud of the boys tonight," Rudd said. "We played a great Needham team, certainly the best team we’ve seen this season. We stuck around, we played hard, tried to play with purpose, tried to possess, but we played a very good opponent.”

The game was played at a high pace, but both teams struggled to create chances. In fact, both keepers finished with one save apiece.

Amherst had chances at the midway point of the second half to break the deadlock. First, on a curling shot from Eric Gooden and then just minutes later on a through ball that squirted away from Needham keeper Kevin MacMillan before being covered up.

Steeves had several chances for Needham before finally putting away the goal. In the final 20 minutes, he eluded two defenders and sent a cross straight through the box that no one could get on the end of and in the 28th minute received a pass from Brandon Miskin but flashed his shot wide of the far post.

Rudd, in his first year as Amherst head coach, led the Hurricanes to their first-ever West sectional title and upended perennial power Ludlow in the process. He hopes this will be a building block for the program.

“I did expect to be right here," he said. "Now that we have climbed that mountain of Ludlow, maybe we will be back here more often in the future.”

For Mac Steeves, and the rest of the nine seniors on the roster, this is the perfect ending to a remarkable four-year career. According to Brock, “It’s been a long stretch between...been 10 or so years since the last time we’ve been here. It’s just such a great group of kids. They work so hard."

Recap: No. 6 Needham 1, No. 1 Weymouth 0

October, 16, 2012
(Video highlights courtesy of the Needham Channel)

NEEDHAM, Mass, -- The Needham Rockets caused what should be another shake-up at the top of the ESPN Boston boys' soccer poll and a certain shift in the Bay State Conference standings with a 1-0 win over No. 1 Weymouth on Tuesday night at Memorial Park.

Mac Steeves scored the game’s lone goal for the No. 6 Rockets on a well-struck shot into the bottom corner that took a slight deflection to sneak under the body of Weymouth keeper Lucas Rezende-Verge. Senior Jack Nardi got the assist on the goal.

Steeves created several other chances for himself in the first half, but struggled to keep the ball on frame as Rezende-Vega would only be called into action twice in the game. In the second half, Needham (11-1-3) pushed numbers behind the ball and soaked up Weymouth pressure. Steeves was called into action on the defensive side and won a number of headers in his own box against Wildcats star forward Mike Lynch.

Needham coach Don Brock, who saw his team give up a 1-0 lead in the teams’ first meeting, was happy to see the Rockets hold on defensively.

“We knew it was going to be a good ballgame. Wish we could have put a couple more in, but we kept them off the board. The defense has been playing well the last six or seven games.”

Needham’s goalscorer was glad to get a win over Weymouth, but just as happy to see his three fellow captains (Sam Tillotson, Brandon Miskin, and William Corkery) on the field together. Steeves pointed out, “This is our first game that we’ve actually had everyone healthy on the team. As a group collectively, I think we played great. It’s the first time this season we’ve gotten to play together.”

The Wildcats (12-1-3) showed tenacity and urgency down the stretch as they tried to find an equalizer, but the Needham defense limited Weymouth, almost exclusively, to shots from long distance. The best chances for Weymouth came in the final minutes of each half.

Senior forward Akere Tambi turned his defender inside the box, but skied his shot over the bar with nearly the last kick of the first half. In the dying moments of the game, midfielder Joshua Berg had a shot on the half-volley, but was not able to put the shot on target.

It was a frustrating game for head coach Bill McEachern but one that is typical of the rivalry and the level of respect each program has for its counterpart.

“When you get a big match like this it’s who works to get the bounces. Mac [Steeves] worked for it, under high pressure and he’s that kind of player that he can put it away."

McEachern added with a wry smile, "There is a lot of respect, but it was a big challenge for us and a tough situation but…we’ll see them again."

During the postgame handshake, most of the players shared the same sentiments.

Needham goalie Kevin Macmillan kept his shutout streak alive with five saves, the best of which may have been his quick reactions to a Lynch free kick just 10 minutes into the game.

Weymouth is now a point behind Needham in the BSC standings with three league matches remaining. Next up for the Wildcats is a game Thursday against Brookline.

Needham will host Braintree on Senior Day, Thursday, at DeFazio Field.