Former Watertown field hockey standout Erika Kelly continued to star in college, and in her senior year the Stonehill College player was named the Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II National Player of the Year.
Kelly wracked up some stellar statistics for the Skyhawks, scoring 98 goals and 21 assists – for a total of 217 points. Her goal-scoring was the second highest in NCAA Div. II ever, and sets the mark as the highest scoring player all-time in the Northeast-10 Conference. She is one of just five players ever to eclipse the 200 point mark.
Despite these numbers, Kelly said she did not anticipate receiving the player of the year accolade.
“It came to me as a surprise. At the same time I worked really hard,” Kelly said. “But I never play to win awards.”
She has received plenty of them in her college career. This year, Kelly was also named the Northeast-10 Player of the Year, garnered All-America recognition for the third straight year and was picked East Region Player of the Year by both the NFHCA and Synapse Sports.
When she went to Stonehill, Kelly said she just wanted to keep playing the game she loved. The game at the college level was a new challenge, but she said her training at Watertown High School under Coach Eileen Donahue prepared her well.
“It is not so much harder as it was different. It is a different atmosphere. The actual game being played is a lot faster,” Kelly said. “But Coach Donahue holds a pretty hard practice.”
While being a part of three of the Raiders’ State Championships, winning a title was one thing she and her teammates did not achieve in her time at the Easton-based college. Stonehill won the Northeast-10 Tournament the last two years, and the Skyhawks made the NCAA Tournament. Both years they fell in the semifinals – 3-2 to LIU Post in 2014 and 1-0 to Merrimack this year.
The loss to their NE-10 rivals was the third one this year, each one a close fought contest.
“The game was back and fourth, and it felt like whoever scored the first goal would win,” Kelly said. “A game like that, it is so disappointing to lose.”
In the spring Kelly will graduate with a degree in criminology. While her college career is over, Kelly might not be putting away her stick for good.
“I got an invitation form USA Field Hockey to a try out camp, so we will see where that goes,” Kelly said.
She will head to Pennsylvania on Jan. 4 to take part in the 2-3 day camp.
Besides that, you might see Kelly around Watertown, especially if you catch a WHS girls’ hockey game.
“I came back and (WHS girls hockey coach) Steve Russo asked me if I wanted to help out,” Kelly said.
She looks forward to getting back into one of the other sports she played in high school. Watertown Athletic Director Michael Lahiff said Kelly is already working as a volunteer coach, and may be brought on as an assistant coach.
Kelly said she misses ice hockey, a sport she strongly considered playing beyond high school.
“I was going to go to college to play ice hockey until the last minute, but then I went for field hockey instead,” Kelly said.