By Jennifer Toland
Telegram & Gazette Staff
After Lindsey Keith dislocated her patella and tore a tendon while playing soccer as an eighth-grader, a doctor told her she would not play the game again.
"It was very emotional, said Keith, who is now a senior at Becker. "I couldn't believe that. I knew I had to get a second opinion."
Keith got a much more hopeful prognosis from another doctor, had surgery, and spent two grueling years recovering, rehabbing and getting back to top form.
In 2013, as a junior, Keith helped Sutton High to a state championship. This fall, she is closing in on Becker's all-time goals and points records.
"I was driven to be the best that I could and not take any game for granted," Keith said.
Keith's experience with her knee set the course for her future profession. At Becker, she is majoring in exercise science and minoring in psychology with plans to become a sports psychologist.
"Through my injury, I was able to see the mental aspect," Keith said, "and I was able to overcome that and have success."
Keith scored four goals, including three in the second half, in the Hawks' come-from-behind 4-2 win over Thomas College on Sunday. The output gave Keith 56 career goals and 132 career points.
She is very much in reach of Caroline Plunkett's school records for goals (66) and points (141), set from 2009-12.
"It is a goal of mine to achieve that accomplishment," Keith said, "but my biggest goal is a conference championship."
The Hawks advanced to the semifinals of the NECC Tournament in 2017 and 2015 and the quarterfinals in 2016.
Keith is a three-time All-NECC selection. Last season, she led the conference in points with 48 and goals with 21, while ranking 11th nationally in goals scored. She earned United Soccer Coaches All-New England third-team honors.
In four games this year, Keith already has seven goals for the Hawks (2-1-1).
She owes her production to her offseason training, which included multiple drills two hours a day with teammates and her boyfriend, Nathan Cornejo, a senior captain of the Becker men's soccer team.
"I wanted to stay at my highest level possible, especially my senior year. I don't want to have any regrets," Keith said. "When I came into preseason, I already had my endurance up."
Keith came up through Sutton's renowned youth program and played for the Fuller Hamlets. She also helped the Suzies to a Central Mass. title her sophomore year and was a team captain as a senior.
In between, Sutton beat Austin Prep, 2-1, for the Division 4 state crown.
"It was an amazing experience to be able to go through that with all my teammates because we were such a close-knit team," Keith said. "As a college player, I would love to be able to win a championship with my teammates now."