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Connor Kelly shines in Maryland lacrosse's win over North Carolina

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The sophomore midfielder had an incredible game, but it shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody.

UM Terps

Maryland Stadium, all 4,721 in attendance, let out a collective gasp, watching as a North Carolina defender was left flat footed following a nasty spin move. With plenty of separation, midfielder Connor Kelly cocked back his stick and ripped a shot right by UNC goalie Brian Balkam.

"I'm just trying to do my part," Kelly said about his effort in the home win. "I know we have a lot of talent on this team, and anybody can do anything on a given day."

On this given day, Kelly combined for six points behind three goals and three assists. He was in some way personally responsible for the Terps' first five goals. This kind of offensive showcase usually comes from one of Maryland's older attack players, but don't consider this performance a surprise nonetheless.

A sophomore hailing from the northeast, Kelly committed to Tillman's program as one of the highest recruited prospects in the nation, specifically the No. 1 overall recruit from the lacrosse oasis that is Connecticut.

"We really liked him coming out of high school, and it's hard to break the lineup as a freshman," Tillman said. "But to do that really says something about the confidence we have in him."

Kelly finished his freshman campaign with a modest eight points, but played one breakout game that showed what made him such a coveted recruit out of high school.

That game was against North Carolina in last year's NCAA quarterfinals, where he notched his first career hat trick.

Kelly's already seen a significant spike in production, coming into this year's UNC game with nine points behind five goals and four assists.

"He's a guy that stays after almost every day for five minutes, either working on a shot or working on some of his technique," Tillman said. "He's putting in the time, and it's great for the younger players to see that and go 'Alright, there's probably a reason why he's having success.'"

Where does Kelly go from here? Juniors Colin Heacock and Matt Rambo carry the burden of the scoring load on an average day, being the only players on the team currently in double-digit goal totals. But after them, there isn't a bona fide third option.

This game could be Kelly's emergence as the go-to option behind Heacock and Rambo, or could simply be another sign of his potential.

Either way it's something to look forward to for Kelly, Tillman and Maryland lacrosse.