Girls Soccer: Vision loss hasn’t stopped SWR’s Kelly

Shoreham-Wading River's Megan Kelly leaves a Port Jefferson defender in her wake as she moves the ball up the field. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)
Shoreham-Wading River’s Megan Kelly leaves a Port Jefferson defender in her wake as she moves the ball up the field. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

It’s hard to believe for a soccer player with such good field vision, but Megan Kelly doesn’t have peripheral vision in her right eye.

During a game four years ago, while a defender cleared a ball, it pegged Kelly in the face, causing the vision loss. As bad as it was, it was close to being even worse.

“I was really lucky that it wasn’t my permanent eyesight,” she said. “It was like, I don’t even know, millimeters away from losing full vision.”

Kelly wore goggles for a while, but not any more. The loss of the peripheral vision, she said, doesn’t affect her game.

It sure doesn’t seem like it has. Last year the Shoreham-Wading River High School standout was named to the all-state team as a junior.

Kelly is a dynamic forward who can play any of the field positions. A joy to watch on the soccer field, she has the foot skill and the speed to tear opposing defenses apart.

A fine example of what Kelly can do was seen Tuesday evening when the Wildcats kicked off their Town of Brookhaven Summer League season. After collecting a pass from Sarah Stietzle, Kelly charged forward in fluid motion. Nudging the ball from one side to another and operating on instinct, she evaded Port Jefferson defenders and then slipped the ball between the legs of a final defender, Alexa Wakefield, before depositing a shot under Port Jefferson goalkeeper Brianna Scarda in the 28th minute.

Pretty slick stuff.

Asked for an assessment, Kelly conceded, “It was pretty good.”

It was the second goal in Shoreham’s 5-0 blanking of a shorthanded Port Jefferson team at the Patchogue-Medford Youth Soccer Complex in Medford.

“Her foot skill is like awesome,” Shoreham center midfielder Sam Higgins said. “She’s definitely one of the best players on the field and I really look up to her. The way that she can outrun people, it’s pretty awesome.”

It was quite a performance by Kelly, who scored twice from five shots. She might have had another goal, but Scarda did well to push one of her shots off the top of the crossbar.

The Wildcats didn’t have any trouble against Port Jefferson, which started the game with nine players, was reduced to eight for a while in the first half because of injury, and played shorthanded the entire 60-minute match.

Second-half goals were supplied by Grace Blomberg (assisted by Rachel Suarez), Sophia Triandafils (assisted by Higgins) and Alessi Rikkimarie, who landed a shot in moments after sending an attempt off the crossbar.

The Wildcats held a 21-1 shots advantage. Their goalkeeper, Lydia Kessel, didn’t touch the ball until the 49th minute when a teammate gave her a back pass. Kessel’s only other two touches were also from back passes.

At various times during the game, Kelly played center midfielder, defense or forward. It’s all good with her.

“I just always have fun when I’m on the field, no matter where I am,” she said.

Kelly, a varsity player since her freshman year, will play in college. She has committed to Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, an NCAA Division II school.

“It’s my last year of high school ball,” she said. “It’s crazy. It is hard to believe.”

The Wildcats are a young bunch. Aside from Kelly, the only other incoming seniors on the summer team’s 23-player roster are Makayla Meeker, Victoria Stirpe and Suarez.

As a senior leader, Kelly said she feels an added responsibility this year.

“The whole game is changing this year,” she said. “We’re relying on different players to make wins happen, so now we have to really stand up on the field and help the younger girls because we’re such a young team now.”

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