PJ Kelleher is off to fast start for the Connecticut College men’s lacrosse team. The sophomore from Walpole was honored as the New England Small College Athletic Conference Player of the Week after notching 13 points in a 25-12 win over MIT. Kelleher’s eight goals and five assists set a single-game scoring record at Conn College. Kelleher followed that up with three goals and one assist in a 12-6 win over Roger Williams.
A 2015 graduate of the Brooks School in North Andover, Kelleher is tied for first in scoring in the NESCAC with 20 points. He is on track to shatter his production from his freshman campaign, when he had 16 goals and 13 assists in 16 games.
“PJ is a very hard-working young man,” said Connecticut College coach Dave Cornell. “He prepares himself not only with his stick skills and in the weight room but is a student of the game with regard to film.”
Kelleher was the leading scorer for the Brooks hockey team as a senior and also played soccer there. He was a three-time all-Independent School League pick in lacrosse. His sister, Jacqueline, played field hockey at Boston College. Their mother, Kathy Donahue (Class of 1985), played soccer and lacrosse at BC.
Q. What is the outlook for the team this year?
A. Every year our goal is to win a NESCAC championship, and this year is no different. We’re a young team, but as the year goes on we’ll get better each day. By the time the NESCAC playoffs come around, we will be playing our best lacrosse and making a run at the team’s first championship.
Q. How did you prepare for this season?
A. I think one of the biggest changes responsible for my fast start was the change in our off-season lifting program. We focused more on full body lifting that would give us the experience of a full lacrosse game. The change in the program by assistant coach Kevin Frank allowed me to gain 10 pounds and improve my testing dramatically from the fall to the spring.
Q. You are off to an incredibly fast start. Are you doing anything differently?
A. I would attribute the change in our pace of play and offensive approach to helping me get off to a fast start. Coach Cornell is allowing us to play faster and with more creativity on offense, which has allowed more opportunities for our offense to make plays and score more transition goals.
Q. What is the team goal this season?
A. Our goal for the season is to win the NESCAC championship and make a run in the NCAA tournament.
Q. What enabled you to be so effective against MIT? Ever score that many points before?
A. I had never scored close to that many goals or points before in any game, but I think I was able to be effective in that game because of our early offense and taking advantage of unsettled situations. I don’t think MIT was ready for our pace of play and I was able to capitalize on some great passes from my teammates.
Q. What do you feel is your strongest attribute when you are on the field?
A. I think definitely my ability to play with both hands. My dominant hand is my right one, but coach Cornell has me playing the left attack, so I think my ability to go left or right to pass and shoot has allowed me to keep defenders guessing more when covering me.
Q. How did you get into lacrosse and when did you start playing?
A. I always grew up wanting to play college hockey in New England, so giving up hockey after my senior year was difficult. But I couldn’t be happier to finally be focusing on one sport and doing everything I can to get better in lacrosse.
JOHN JOHNSONFor full interview go to bostonglobe.com/south