BY John R. Johnson
Globe Correspondent / April 19, 2012
Kelsey Reilly takes great satisfaction in shutting down an offensive foray, forcing a turnover by an opposing player to trigger the Stonehill women's lacrosse squad on the attack. And sometimes, she will finish off the play with a goal of her own.
Aside from her primary role as a defensive-minded midfielder for the Skyhawks, Reilly has scored 11 goals and added 12 assists for the Skyhawks (10-2 overall, 8-1 Northeast-10 Conference), ranked sixth nationally in Division 2.
"She scores quite a bit, and that's not even her strength. That's how good she is,'' said Stonehill fourth-year coach Katie Conover.
"She's an unbelievable defender, probably the best we have at midfield.''
The junior All-American from Hingham was at her best in Stonehill's 12-8 NE-10 victory over 11th-ranked Merrimack last Thursday. After a difficult 19-7 loss to Adelphi, the Skyhawks bounced back with a crucial win over the Warriors, with Reilly contributing two goals and three assists from Reilly.
The Notre Dame Academy grad dominated on both ends of the field, leading her team with eight ground balls, eight caused turnovers and six draw controls.
"The Adelphi loss was a pretty tough loss, so we needed to come back strong,'' said Reilly, who played lacrosse and basketball at Notre Dame, winning the Division 2 state title on the court in 2009.
"The Merrimack game was a big step for us. It was a huge game, and I knew that we only had five games left and that a win would be the key to a strong finish to the season. I just wanted to go out and try my hardest.''
That's usually the case.
As a sophomore, the 5-foot-9 Reilly scored 36 goals and added nine assists en route to earning All-American honors.
While the offensive numbers are impressive, Conover stresses that Reilly's most important facet of the game is defense.
"Kelsey definitely has the best instincts of anybody I've coached in the last few years,'' said Conover, who, as a player, is the only four-time All-American in program history.
"She has all the intangibles you look for in a player. We get some scoring from her and her speed is phenomenal. She plays the role of attacker but on defense is where you really notice her.''
With 75 career goals, the fact that Reilly enjoys defense the most is a strong statement. She leads the squad in ground balls (36) and in turnovers created (24), and her 72 draw controls is second in the NE-10.
"If you don't have the ball you can't score. So being a midfielder, my speed and draw control is a big part of my game,'' said Reilly. "Obviously scoring a goal is important, but I love causing turnovers and being able to to set up my teammates up for a goal, or even finishing it off myself.''