Spotlight - Natalie Boyd in Northern Ireland

Stephen Hamilton Photography

LANGLEY, British Columbia – Natalie Boyd is trying her luck with the Irish. And so far there seems to be an abundance of three-leaf clovers in her path.

After finishing her second year with the Trinity Western University women’s soccer team, the Spartans midfielder has taken her game to Northern Ireland this summer and is currently playing, and playing well, for the Belfast-based Crusaders Newtonabbey Strikers, who compete in the Northern Ireland Women’s Football Association, which is the country’s top women’s league.

“I am hoping that playing overseas will bring a new dimension to my style of play and that being in a soccer dispersed culture will help me grow in my understanding of the game,” Boyd said. “The players over here are technically sound and have an incredible knowledge for the game.”

And in just a few weeks abroad, the 5-foot-5, Surrey, B.C. product, who was a Canada West First Team All-Star and CIS Second Team All-Star this year, has already made her mark.

After arriving on May 4, Boyd saw her first game action on May 18 as a second half substitute and immediately proved her worth on the pitch. With her Strikers trailing 1-0, Boyd was substituted into the game shortly after halftime and as a league report stated, she “…made a vital impact [to] the game. [Boyd] was on the end of three cleverly crafted moves between [Helen] McKenna, [Lynsey] Patterson and [Nikki] McWilliams before she finally slotted a low shot past the despairing Ballymena keeper on 72 minutes.”

From there, the Boyd-aided attack continued to push forward and eventually the Strikers got the winning goal to give the now 4-0-1 Newtonabbey bunch the victory.

The following day, she further impressed the locals when, while playing with the reserves, she scored three goals for the Strikers in a 3-2 win.

“She is engulfed in a soccer crazy culture,” said Trinity Western coach Graham Roxburgh. “She gets to train and play with a club team there that probably has a different style of playing and a different style of coaching, which will be good for her to mature as a player.

“Even as a person, when you live overseas for three months, you have to find your way through new cultures and you just grow as a person. I’m really excited about what this can do not only for her long-term soccer career but also for both her personal growth and maybe what this will do for our program in the next few years.”

While her on-field exploits have quickly become apparent, off the field, Boyd has been no less busy.

Boyd has been helping former Spartans men’s soccer player Paul Ballard and his wife Roslynn with Athletes in Action Ireland. Most recently she was involved in a stationary bike cycle-a-thon in which she peddled for more than three hours to help raise funds for AIA trips to Moldova and Malawi.

And if that wasn’t enough, Boyd has also helped run a local girls’ school district seven aside soccer tournament and, all the while, has been taking her UEFA Level 1 Coaching Education.

Boyd, who was recently named, along with five of her Spartans teammates, to Team Canada for this summer’s FISU Games in Shenzhen, China Aug.12-23, will return to Canada July 20 and will begin training with the national university team, which is coached by Roxburgh, July 27.

-TW-

Last Updated: 2011-07-05
Author: Mark Janzen