Girls Soccer: Kelly, back from concussion, returns to form

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07/31/2014 9:13 PM |
Shoreham-Wading River's Alexandra Kuhnle, on the ball, and Megan Kelly during Thursday's quarterfinal against Center Moriches. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Shoreham-Wading River’s Alexandra Kuhnle, on the ball, and Megan Kelly during Thursday’s quarterfinal against Center Moriches. (Credit: Garret Meade)

For the record, the Shoreham-Wading River summer girls soccer team doesn’t have two players wearing No. 9 uniforms. It may seem that way sometimes, but that’s only because Megan Kelly can appear to be in two places at the same time.

The truth is, Kelly doesn’t have a clone on the field with her. She just does a lot of running and covers a lot of ground.

The junior striker is omnipresent, pressing defenders and causing turnovers, following up rebounds of her own shots. In one instant, with the ball at her feet, she’s taking on a defender. Moments later, she is 50 yards back in her team’s half of the field, winning the ball back.

Shoreham-Wading River’s coach, Adrian Gilmore, can testify to Kelly’s abilities.

“She’s unbelievable,” Gilmore said. “She’s a great kid. The Bayport coach once said she’s the most dangerous kid in the league. He was like, ‘I don’t know what she’s going to do.’ He said: ‘I don’t know if she’s going to score on me. I don’t know if she’s going to take one of my players down.’ You know, she’s such an aggressive kid and she just makes such smart decisions on the field. She’s worked very hard the last two years to control her first touch.”

Kelly made her return to the field Thursday evening, ending a two-week hiatus after suffering a concussion. She was arguably the best player on the field, scoring a goal as Shoreham handled Center Moriches, 2-0, in a Town of Brookhaven Summer League small school quarterfinal at Diamond in the Pines in Coram.

“I think I played good for not playing in two weeks,” she said.

While playing for her club team, Farmingdale Legacy, in a national tournament in North Carolina, Kelly banged heads with an opposing goalkeeper and suffered a concussion. She said she had blurry vision and headaches. But those weren’t her initial concerns.

“When I first got hit, I felt that my tooth fell out, so that’s what I was afraid of,” she said.

As for the concussion, her first, she said, “It wasn’t a bad one, but still.”

The Wildcats were undoubtedly relieved to see Kelly back on the field, doing her stuff.

It didn’t take her long to make an impact on the game. Working the ball along the endline, she drew it back toward the middle and pounded a shot into the net in the 12th minute for a 1-0 lead. Mackenzie Roberts assisted.

Courtney Clasen made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute. A Center Moriches defender tried to clear a ball up the middle, but it went straight to Clasen, who drilled it to the low left corner.

The final score was kind to Center Moriches. Shoreham controlled possession, boxed the Red Devils in their own half of the field for much of the match, limiting them to occasional forays beyond the midfield line.

The lead looked safe, and Shoreham goalkeepers Lydia Kessel and Lauren Marigliano had little to do.

The Wildcats will play Port Jefferson in a semifinal Friday evening at The Wedge in Mount Sinai.

This has been a wonderful summer for the unbeaten Wildcats. They finished the regular season in first place with a 6-0-3 record. In the 10 games they have played, they have outscored teams, 18-2. Their goalkeepers have recorded seven shutouts.

Impressive stuff. The sort of stuff one might think possible from a talented group that includes 10 returning players from the school’s varsity team.

The loss to graduation of goalkeeper Kelly Wynkoop and some other defensive personnel had worried junior stopper Emily Sopko.

“I thought it was going to be bad, but a lot of people have stepped up and I think we’re ready,” she said.

It certainly looks that way. The Wildcats have depth as well as quality with the likes of Clasen, an All-State player, and Alex Kuhnle and Kelly, who were both All-County players last year.

Kelly said she wasn’t nervous about her return to action on Thursday. She said, “I just hope that I don’t get another concussion so I have to sit out.”

bliepa@timesreview.com