In four years at Camden Hills, Kristina Kelly scored 159 goals and had 58 assists as the Windjammers won Class A state titles each season. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

At just under 5-foot-4, Kristina Kelly does not present an imposing figure on the soccer field or the wrestling mat.

But then you watch her compete.

No soccer player in the state did it better than Kelly, a Camden Hills Regional High graduate who will next play at Division I Central Connecticut State University. And few girls’ wrestlers were better.

Kelly led the Windjammers to their fourth consecutive Class A soccer title last fall, compiling 49 goals and 20 assists, and then finished second in the 120-pound weight class at the girls’ wrestling state meet in February.

She is our choice as the 2019-20 Varsity Maine Female Athlete of the Year.

Kelly finished with 159 career goals and 58 assists, using speed, agility and tremendous foot skills. In December, she was named the National Player of the Year by the United Soccer Coaches organization.

“She’ll be remembered not just for the goals she scored,” said Meredith Messer, the girls’ soccer coach at Camden Hills. “She set a bar in terms of what you can do if you put your mind to something.”

When Kelly arrived at Camden Hills as a freshman, Messer said she was shy, quiet and about 5-feet tall, not exactly projecting the image of the state’s next great player. “I didn’t even think I’d make the varsity as a freshman,” said Kelly.

But she learned a lot that year, watching the seniors carry the Windjammers to the Class A state title. And she went to work making herself better.

“One of the things that made Kris so special is that she had the natural athletic ability, clearly, but she was not a kid who can sit still,” said Messer. “She took advantage of every opportunity she had to get better. And then she created her own. Not every high school kid can have that focus, they feel they’re missing out on other things. For her, that wasn’t an issue. She loved what she was doing.”

“She’s a phenomenal player,” said Scarborough Coach Mike Farley, whose team lost to Camden Hills in each of the last three state finals. “I think she’s the best girls’ soccer player I’ve seen in a long time.”

Farley said it’s not surprising that she wrestled as well. “You can see it, because she is a tough girl on the field,” he said. “And she’s fierce. She’s a small girl that doesn’t look fierce, but when they blow the whistle and the game starts, she’s the fiercest player I saw.”

Kelly took up wrestling as a junior because, well, everyone in her family wrestles, including her father, Jack, her brother, Drew, and her uncle, Patrick, who is the Windjammers’ coach. As a junior, she won the 113-pound girls’ state championship.

“I never had any intentions of competing (in wrestling),” said Kelly. “I just thought I’d be in the room getting stronger (for soccer). It just so happened they needed somebody my weight to compete. That gave me a lot of mat time and experience.”

These days, she’s doing some dirt biking with her brother and running with her three dogs as she prepares to head off to college. She’ll study human biology on a premed track, with hopes of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

She’s thankful for the opportunities she had at Camden Hills, and especially for Messer.

“She was always pushing me to be my best,” said Kelly. “The last three years, I’ve grown way more than I could have imagined, and a lot of it is because of her. She never told me I was a great player. She always told me I could become a better player.”

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