By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/27/11
Haverford School senior goalie Conor Kelly has been named the Phillylacrosse.com Boys’ Co-Player of the Year for 2011.
Kelly was the steady force in the cage for a squad that stood atop the national scene all year, finishing 23-0 while being ranked No. 1 in every national poll from start to finish.
Kelly earned US Lacrosse and Under Armour All-American honors and was selected to try out for the United States U-19 National team. Headed to Notre Dame, he shares the Player of the Year honor with Conestoga senior long stick midfielder Brian Dailey.
On a team with 12 seniors headed to Division I programs and seven All-Americans, it may have been hard to stand out. But Kelly’s consistency and clutch performances in key situations were big reasons the Fords won their third straight Inter-Ac League and Invitational championships while remaining flawless against a national schedule that provided ample challenges.
“To go 23-0 you have to have a goalie that doesn’t have too many bad days,” said Haverford School coach John Nostrant. “He didn’t take a day off. We had a lot of depth, but if the goalie is not making saves, we’re going to lose some of those games.”
The Haverford School schedule, indeed, was unforgiving. The Fords defeated three powers from Baltimore’s MIAA – St. Paul’s, McDonogh and Loyola Blakefield – and two teams that at the time were ranked No. 2 in the nation, Darien (Conn.) and Philly rival Conestoga. Haverford School also defeated state powers St. Joseph’s Prep (9-8 in overtime) and La Salle and New Jersey prep power Lawrenceville School in a thrilling 13-11 triumph in the Inter-Ac Invitational semifinals.
But the biggest challenges came from Inter-Ac League rival Malvern Prep. The Friars gave the Fords two battles during the regular season, and led almost the entire way in the Inter-Ac Invitational finals. The hero of the game was Haverford School senior Carl Walrath, who tallied the game-tying goal with 36.9 seconds to play and the game-winner with 9.8 seconds left.
But who held the Friars scoreless for the final three periods and 3:07 of the first period?
Yes, Conor Kelly.
“We saw we were ranked No 1 in the preseason and we knew we had a big target on our backs and tons of pressure, but coach (John Nostrant) would say, ‘Don’t ignore it, embrace it,’” said Kelly. “We took to heart and challenged ourselves not to be complacent.”
Kelly finished the year with a 58 percent save percentage and 155 saves. He allowed more than 10 goals only once.
“We’ll have this season to remember for the rest of our lives,” Kelly said. “We ended up No. 1. Everyone set a goal to go undefeated and win the Inter-Ac, but you have no idea what it’s like when it actually happens.
“Everything leading up to it was well worth it when we won that final game. We’ll take the lessons of teamwork and how we showed poise in the final minutes and take those on to the next level.”
Phillylacrosse.com Players of the Year
2011 – Conor Kelly, Haverford School, senior goalie
2011 – Brian Dailey, Conestoga, senior long stick midfielder
2010 – Austin Kaut, Springfield-Delco, senior goalie
2010 – Jordan Wolf, Lower Merion, senior attackman
2009 – Tucker Durkin, La Salle, senior defenseman
2008 – Niko Amato, La Salle, junior goalie
Tags: Haverford School