Sophomore Erika Kelly has broken the program's single season goals and scoring records. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)
BY Marvin Pave
At Stonehill, Kelly finds scoring touch
Erika Kelly netted eight goals and two assists as a freshman last season on the Stonehill College field hockey team.
She was named to the All-Rookie team in the Northeast-10 Conference for her performance.
But Kelly, the Globe's two-time Division 2 Player of the Year at Watertown High, felt she was capable of much more.
She proved her point in this fall's season opener against perennial Division 2 power Bloomsburg, scoring all three of Stonehill's goals, including the winner in overtime.
"I was a little shy last year, just trying to find my spot on the team, but I became more confident as the season wore on and last summer I did all I could to get physically and mentally ready," said Kelly, who won three state championships at Watertown High School for coach Eileen Donahue . "After the Bloomsburg game, I was really amped up."
Kelly has maintained that torrid pace for the third-ranked Skyhawks, who improved to 13-0 (6-0 NE-10) after Tuesday's 2-1, double-overtime win against American International College.
Heading into Saturday's conference game against Southern Connecticut State University, the three-time NE-10 Player of the Week this season was leading Division 2 in goals (24) and points (49), both single-season records at Stonehill.
Sophomore Lauren Giordano is second on the team in scoring. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)
The 5-foot-6 Kelly leads the conference in game-winning goals (7) and is six tallies shy of the NE-10 single-season record.
"Erika has a natural instinct for the game, and you can tell by the way she stick handles that she had an ice hockey background," said Stonehill head coach Shelly Morris.
"She's found her comfort level and is having the kind of season she had as a high school senior. She's scored several breakaway goals this season, and has great composure under pressure. She's dynamic, she's a workhorse, and her teammates feed off that energy."
Kelly credits Donahue for her development as a complete player, and Morris has helped her grow into her role.
"Now when I get possession of the ball I have the confidence to keep it, get off an accurate pass, and then get in position to receive it," she said.
Sideris, back in the lineup after an early season injury, scored the game-winner against AIC, while Giordano opened the scoring.
The two, who share the same birth date, June 6, 1994, are like sisters.
Junior All-American Emily Sideris has two gamewinning goals this season. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)
"Back in high school they used to call us the magnets because we knew each other so well on and off the field," said Kelly, who was the first to commit to the Easton college. They are also close to Sideris.
Sideris, a second-team All-American last year, is "a great playmaker who is just starting to get back into form, and Lauren is a terrific all-around player," Morris said.
Kelly's father, Bob, who played hockey for Watertown High and coached his two coached daughters with the Minuteman Lady Flames ice hockey team, is a patrolman on the Watertown police force. He was on a motorcycle detail and close to the scene when Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apprehended. Giordano's father, Rich, is a Waltham officer.
"My dad's a hero to me," said Kelly. "I didn't know how close he was to the suspect that night until he told me. Dad has always been there for me."
Her younger sister, Lauren , a senior three-sport athlete at the Winchendon School, will attend Northeastern University on an ice hockey scholarship. On the ice as a senior at Watertown, Erika led the state in scoring with 70 points.
Bob Kelly, his wife, Cheryl, and father-in-law, Joe Tardif, who recently celebrated his 60th Watertown High reunion, make sure they get to as many of Erika's and Lauren's games as possible.
"Erika always had big stats, but what I'm most proud of is that she was first and foremost a team player," said her father. "Both of our daughters brought out the best in one another — as teammates and in the backyard as adversaries — and it seems like we're going 100 miles an hour just to keep up with them."
Gina Sheehan , a senior defender from Shrewsbury High, has started every game for the Skyhawks since her freshman year, while sophomore Elizabeth Thornton, a Needham High grad, has cracked the starting lineup at midfield and has "been a great find for us," said Morris.
Morris said Sheehan creates offense out of the backfield and provides veteran leadership.