Shea Kelleher amassed 22 goals in helping propel the Silver Lake girls’ soccer team to the MIAA Division 2 state final last November. On the ice this winter, the 5-foot-5-inch forward is in the midst of a stellar campaign for the Whitman-Hanson/Silver Lake girls’ hockey co-op team.
Excelling as a multisport athlete seems to be second nature for the Kingston resident. In a 5-4 start, the junior captain has produced 20 goals.
“She has a great knowledge of the sport, and has really good lower body strength and explosiveness,” Whitman-Hanson/Silver Lake coach Dave White said. “She’s probably the hardest worker we have on the team.”
On the soccer field, Kelleher has similar qualities, said Silver Lake coach Scott Williams.
“She’s a tremendously athletic kid . . . she has an innate athletic ability that not every kid has,” Williams said. “On top of that, she has one of the best work ethics that I’ve ever seen.”
Kelleher, nine points shy of breaking the soccer program’s record for career points (69), has verbally committed to play Division 1 soccer at Sacred Heart University.
Though the short break between the fall and winter seasons would make some athletes cringe, Kelleher says the quick transition is an advantage. It gives her an edge on the ice.
“After soccer season, I’m just in shape and ready for hockey season,” Kelleher said. “It makes it more enjoyable when you know that you’re in shape and you know you’ll be able to play like you did in soccer.”
White noted vital leadership qualities in Kelleher since her first season, and her penchant for connecting with her teammates has increased tenfold in her new role as a junior captain. She is incredibly committed to the success of her teammates, and goes out of her way to help newcomers.
“She’ll take the time out on the bench or during practices to work with them on their shot, work with them on their skating ability,” White said. “She’s always been very knowledgeable about the game, and she has the ability to coach them up and work with them to become better players.”
Kelleher credits former Panthers standout Alyssa Murphy (who has 8 goals in 16 games as a sophomore for Western New England University) and her older brother, Mark, a senior captain on the Silver Lake boys’ hockey team, as role models she tries to emulate.
“It’s always good to talk to [my brother] about his day and what he does for his team as a captain,” Kelleher said. “We can connect about that and we make each other better.”
In the transition from underclassman to junior leader, Kelleher says the unique makeup of her team — which features just 13 rostered players, including four freshman and two eighth graders — has been a strength rather than a weakness.
“We’re awfully small, so I feel like we all really bond together,” Kelleher said. “We all talk and contribute in the locker room, and you just get to know people so much more in a smaller team.”
Fellow co-captain Abbey Powers emphasized Kelleher’s willingness to communicate as keys.
“I’m lucky to have Shea as a co-captain, because sometimes it can be hard to get a new team connected with each other. Shea really knows how to tackle those types of problems with her communication skills,” Powers said.
Kelleher has earned the trust and respect of her coaches. But sometimes the best measure of an athlete comes from how they are viewed by their peers.
“She’s just really special. She lights everybody up,” Powers said. “We’ve had such a great season because she’s had everyone working toward the same goal, which is making it to tournament.”
▪ In its second game of the season, Bishop Stang hosted Bishop Feehan, their Catholic Central League rival. The two teams played a tight game, but Bishop Feehan emerged with the 5-4 victory in overtime.
The loss stung for Stang.
When the teams faced off again last Wednesday, there was revenge to be had, and the Spartans were ready. Bishop Stang cruised to a 7-1 victory, cushioning the blow of that early loss.
“The players were happy to get payback,” Bishop Stang coach Bill Theodore said. “We came out strong from the drop of the puck. They are a good team, and they are well coached. It’s a rivalry for sure.”
Though they followed their big win against Feehan with a Saturday loss to St. Mary’s, the 6-4 Spartans are right in the thick of the Catholic Central with the season halfway through. It is a good place to be for a team that has just two seniors. One is goaltender Sophia Babineau, who made 20 saves against Bishop Feehan.
“We have only two seniors, but thankfully one is the goalie,” Theodore said.
Another highlight for the Spartans is their top forward line, which showcases both the team’s youth and experience. Juniors Alexandra Yost and Mikayla Brightman share the line with freshman Kacey Curran, who fills a shooting need Bishop Stang shares with many other teams.
“She’s a lefty,” Theodore said. “We have been looking for a lefty and those are hard to come by.”
Yost scored twice in the rematch with Bishop Feehan, while Curran added a goal and two assists. The top line has powered the recent success, and Theodore believes their potential is high.
“Our first line is very good in terms of competitiveness,” Theodore said.
Next up for the Spartans’ is a six-game home stretch of conference foes and non-conference tests. After avenging that early overtime loss, Bishop Stang believes it has the mettle for a solid remainder of the season.
“The most important thing we say before the game is, ‘Win or lose, let’s make them remember that they played Bishop Stang,’” Theodore said.
▪ Methuen/Tewksbury coach Sarah (Oteri) Doucette reached an important milestone Monday night: her team’s 8-1 nonleague win over Masconomet marked her 100th win at the helm of the Red Rangers.
Doucette took over the co-op in 2015, and has led the Red Rangers to two state finals, including the 2019 victory that made them the first co-op program to win a title. She was also a three-time Merrimack Valley Conference MVP during her playing days for Andover.
Games to Watch
Wednesday, No. 6 Notre Dame (Hingham) at No. 8 St. Mary’s, 6 p.m. –– The Spartans will put their 3-0-1 home record to the test in a nonleague matchup between two perennial powers in Division 1.
Wednesday, No. 4 Arlington at No. 7 Winchester, 6:30 p.m. –– Both unbeaten in Middlesex League play, the Spy Ponders and Winchester will battle for the top spot in the Liberty Division.
Saturday, No. 15 Natick at No. 12 Needham, 2:15 p.m. –– Both teams remain undefeated in Bay State Conference play, with the Redhawks leading the Carey Division and the Rockets pacing the Herget Division.
Saturday, No. 1 Austin Prep at No. 6 Notre Dame (Hingham), 3:40 p.m. –– Top-ranked Austin Prep has outscored opponents by a 75 to 5 margin, but Notre Dame (Hingham) has only conceded 10 goals this season.
Saturday, Shrewbury at No. 11 Acton-Boxborough/Bromfield, 6:10 p.m. –– MVC/DCL Large Division powers collide for the second time this season. A-B won the first meeting on Dec. 20, 3-0.
Correspondents Kat Cornetta and Cam Kerry contributed to this story.
Olivia Nolan can be reached at email@example.com.