Kristina Kelly of Camden Hills finished with 159 career goals to place third on Maine’s all-time scoring list. The Windjammers won Class A state titles each of her four years. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

It’s not as if she had many weaknesses entering her final season of high school soccer. Still, Kristina Kelly of Camden Hills found a way to improve.

“She really worked on her fitness and her core strength, so she very rarely lost possession of the ball,” said Windjammers Coach Meredith Messer. “Her field awareness and her passing choices definitely were elevated this year, which made us as a team that much better.”

Kelly wrapped up a remarkable high school career by leading Camden Hills to a third straight unbeaten season and a fourth straight Class A state championship. Her 49 goals lifted her career total to 159, third on Maine’s all-time list behind Shelby Pickering (178) of Lee Academy and Jordan Pellerin (171) of Waterville.

Not only did Kelly make her mark in the state’s largest enrollment division, she did so under restrictions Messer deemed sporting: namely, that after reaching three goals in a game, a player should set up teammates rather than shoot again to inflate personal stats.

“It was only playoffs my senior year and the very first game my freshman year where I didn’t have that limit,” Kelly said. “I actually liked it. It showed that I wasn’t the type of player who would score as many as I could when the other team wasn’t that good.”

A three-time All-America selection, Kelly is the first Mainer to win National Player of the Year honors from the United Soccer Coaches. For the second year in a row, she is our choice as Varsity Maine Player of the Year in girls’ soccer.

The Windjammers compiled a record of 70-1-1 over the course of Kelly’s career, which she began as a quiet kid from Lincolnville, one of the five towns that send students to Camden Hills.

“It’s been a nice process watching her break out of her shell and be more confident,” Messer said. “She has established some great mentor relationships with the younger members of our team. That’s been incredibly valuable and will continue to be.”

After routing its first two playoff opponents this fall by a combined 23-1, Camden Hills prevailed in the North final over Bangor 1-0, and the state championship game over Scarborough, 2-1. Kelly converted in the 76th minute to beat Bangor on a cold, wet night in Bath. Four days later, she scored in the fourth minute against Scarborough to give her team a lead it never relinquished.

To preserve that lead, Messer moved Kelly to defense for the final 15 minutes, and she helped prevent the Red Storm from putting another shot on net the rest of the game.

“I used to be a defender in middle school, and I started practicing as soon as playoffs started so it wouldn’t be brand new if we did it in the state game,” Kelly said. “For the most part, I just had to be aggressive. I was back there for speed, in case the ball got by to make sure I could get to them before they could get a good shot off.”

Last winter, Kelly won a girls’ state championship in her first season of wrestling, in the 113-pound weight class. This wrestling season will be delayed until a hand injury heals. Kelly and her brother run a firewood business, and her thumb got stuck between the splitter and a piece of wood. Five stitches along her index finger and two in her thumb have since been removed, but she lost her thumb nail, leaving nerve endings exposed, so she’ll be on the sideline for several more weeks.

Next fall, she’ll continue her soccer career at Central Connecticut State, where she plans to study biology along with competing at the Division I level.

“As talented as she is as an individual, what’s best for her team is always at the front of her mind,” Messer said. “She was one of our best communicators this year.”

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