October 16, 2019
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Active outdoors lifestyle helps versatile junior emerge as Camden Hills’ career soccer scoring leader

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
Kristina Kelly of Camden Hills High School has emerged as one of the state's most prolific scorers while leading the Windjammers to the brink of a third consecutive Class A North title. Kelly's interests off the pitch include riding motorcyles, ATVs and snowmobiles.

Kristina Kelly has a wide variety of interests.

The Camden Hills High School junior rides a motorcycle and just about anything else she can get her hands on including dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles.

She loves to hunt, especially near the family camp in Jackman.

Her summer job is splitting wood with her older brother Andrew.

During the fall, Kelly also is one of the state’s most prolific goal scorers for the Camden Hills girls soccer team.

She has scored 109 goals and is the school’s all-time leading scorer. She has tallied 38 this season after a 32-goal freshman season and a 39-goal campaign in 2017.

“She is one of the best players I’ve ever seen,” said Bangor High coach Joe Johnson. “She’s very strong and very explosive. She’s fast, she shoots well and she is very unselfish. She has more dimensions to her game than some of the other great players I’ve seen.”

Kelly’s goal total might be significantly higher, but Camden Hills head coach Meredith Messer implemented a three-goal rule during the regular season. If a player scores three goals in a game, she is not allowed to shoot after that.

Two-time defending Class A state champion Camden Hills (16-0), the No. 1 seed, hosts No. 3 Messalonskee of Oakland (15-1) in Wednesday’s Class A North final.

“Kris is a very special player and a very special person,” said Camden Hills senior midfielder Kassie Krul. “She continues to amaze me every single day. I’m honored to be able to play with her.

“She wants the ball. She’s hungry to score. She’s passionate,” said Krul.

The daughter of Jack and Erika Kelly considers herself a late bloomer when it comes to scoring goals.

“I came from a small school in Lincolnville and I was a midfielder (in middle school). I didn’t score many goals compared to how many I’ve scored now,” said Kelly, who played in the Pen Bay club soccer program and for the Dutch Soccer Academy teams run by Krul’s parents, Tammy and Robbie.

Kelly admitted that she was shy as a freshman and was reluctant to call for the ball.

“People couldn’t find me because I was too nervous to talk and they couldn’t find me,” she said.

“She was really quiet and shy. She was a little intimidated to ask questions,” said Messer.

But that has changed.

Kelly, who plays on the wing, is much more outgoing and communicates with her teammates all the time.

“The biggest change has been my confidence,” said Kelly. “Now I’m trying to step up and make it a lot easier for my teammates to find me by checking into (open) space.

Her speed is one of her best assets. She needs it to help overcome double- and triple-teaming by opponents.

“It definitely makes it easier but, in some ways, it hurts me because I don’t have to focus on my moves,” Kelly said of her speed.

She has worked on her shot over the years and feels she has developed more power.

“She has a rocket shot but he biggest thing I’ve noticed is she has been so poised and has been able to place her shots. She makes it look so effortless,” said Krul who complimented Kelly’s willingness to hustle back in the defensive third.

The 5-foot-3, 115-pound Kelly also has registered 10 assists this season.

Kelly played basketball her freshman year at Camden Hills High but decided to play soccer last winter. This year, she intends to compete on the Windjammers wrestling team for her uncle Patrick Kelly, who is the coach.

“My brother is going to be a senior on the team and it will be a great way to spend time with him before he goes off to college,” said Kristina Kelly. “I’m looking to stay in shape and learn the techniques.”

Kelly said she has improved her overall strength over the years which has helped her protect the ball rather than rely on sheer speed.

When she isn’t on the soccer field, Kelly loves to jump on her motorcycle.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m having a good day or a bad day. Whenever I have free time, I take my motorcycle for a ride,” said Kelly. “I also try to hunt as much as I can.”

Messer said Kelly’s involvement in so many activities, including CrossFit training, has helped her develop her muscles and build a strong core.

“She is a very goal-driven kid,” Messer said. “She has endurance. She’s explosively quick and she can do it consistently the entire game.”

Kelly enjoys scoring goals but values winning above any personal accomplishments.

“It doesn’t matter who scores the goals. We’re all having a good time and we want to make it to another state game and win it again,” said Kelly.

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