In the final minute of a 1-0 victory over Scarborough in the Class A state championship game last month in Bath, Kristina Kelly played her own version of keep-away.

She dribbled the ball in the offensive third, wary Scarborough defenders keeping their distance rather than attacking, and simply ran out the clock on a third straight Class A state title for Camden Hills.

That the Red Storm, desperately in need of possession, respected Kelly’s speed and skill too much to force the issue says much about her stature in state soccer circles. Fast enough to run past defenders and strong enough to ward them off if they bump her, Kelly is a two-time All-America selection by the Maine Soccer Coaches Association who has drawn interest from Division I coaches.

In three varsity seasons, Kelly has scored in 51 of 54 games, amassed 110 goals and ended each autumn with a state title celebration.

Only a junior, she is now 11th on the all-time state scoring list, and everybody above her played in smaller school classifications.

Kelly, who scored 39 of those goals this fall, is our choice as Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year for girls’ soccer.

“Ability wise, she has two things make her really special,” said Camden Hills Coach Meredith Messer. “One is that she’s the same speed with the ball on her foot as when it’s not on her foot. That’s really uncommon. The other piece is that (at 5-foot-3) she has such a low center of gravity that her turns are very quick. When she cuts with the ball, it’s pretty much impossible to defend her.”

In her Dutch Soccer Academy program started by the Krul family – whose daughters Kassie and Kaylyn are Windjammers teammates – Kelly will play this winter on a boys’ team “to try to prepare me physically for college,” she said.

The recruiting process has been a bit overwhelming but she said she’s enjoying it. She plans to stay in New England and is leaning toward studying biology.

Kelly isn’t your typical soccer specialist who plays one sport year-round. This winter she’s the only girl on the Camden Hills wrestling team, coached by her uncle, Patrick Kelly. Her older brother Andrew is a senior wrestler.

“I figured it was a great way to stay in shape and develop some skills that might come in handy,” she said. “I was trying to find a way to build up my muscles, not just the muscles that I use for soccer, but muscles that surround the important soccer ones, if that makes any sense.”

As a ninth grader she played basketball and ran track. She said she’ll probably try another sport this spring. For the past two summers she and her brother have cut, split and delivered firewood. Their family lives in Lincolnville but has a camp in Jackman, where she’s fond of riding dirt bikes and snowmobiles and hunting deer. Soccer took priority this fall, but in her two previous autumns she bagged a doe and a four-point buck.

For the past four years, Kristina and Andrew fished roughly 150 lobster traps in Penobscot Bay. Their season ended prematurely this summer when his boat flipped over in a storm. Since turning 16 in August, her preferred mode of transportation is a Kawasaki Ninja 650 motorcycle.

“She’s really a down-to-earth, hard-working Maine girl,” Messer said. “There’s something that makes her different, and it’s so hard to bottle or describe. She just has a willingness to be challenged all the time.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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