Patrick Kelly crammed a lot of key moments into his senior lacrosse season at Calvert Hall this spring.
He scored important goals. He dished out big assists. And as team captain, he inspired with his words, actions and a calm disposition.
When it was all finished — after he led the No. 1 Cardinals to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship — he had built a resume remarkable enough to be named All-Metro Player of the Year and the C. Markland Kelly Award winner as the top high school player in Maryland.
While most kids would be on cloud nine, Kelly, who started three seasons on attack for Calvert Hall, remains grounded and down to earth.
"I try to take it all as humbly as possible and I'm very appreciative for everything," he said. "There were a lot of others who were involved and it's as much them as it is me when you think about the individual awards. I hope they know that."
Before moving on to play in college at North Carolina, Kelly will close out his high school career Saturday when he represents the South team in the seventh annual Under Armour All-America Classic at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium. The game, scheduled for 8 p.m., will be televised on ESPNU.
"It's the most elite game of its kind, a great honor and I just can't wait to play," Kelly said. "You see all the great players who have played in it before and look at what they're doing now, really making a difference. Playing at home, Towson, with a lot of my friends — it's going to be really cool to finish my high school career with my family there to watch."
If his performance Saturday is anything like his final season, expect Kelly to make a difference.
After earning first-team All-Metro honors as a junior and helping the Cardinals reach last year's conference title game, Kelly elevated his game to the level needed to take the final step. The Cardinals were loaded with returning talent, a heavy favorite to win the championship, and plenty of pressure came with the tag.
Kelly stepped to the front, finishing with an even distribution of goals and assists (44, 41) to effectively quarterback the Cardinals' attack.
He showed toughness (continuing to play in an early-season game despite getting a cut on his face that would require 32 stitches the next day); poise (a four-goal, four-assist performance for an 11-10 comeback win over Boys' Latin in the semifinal round); and an effective finishing touch (two goals and three assists in a 17-3 win over Loyola for the championship).
"It was three years of hard work all coming together for him," Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly said. "He was just dominant in every facet of the game as an attackman and to see his growth throughout the season was incredible. On the biggest stage, in the biggest games when we needed him the most, he came through."
Calvert Hall teammate Evan Connell, a first-team All-Metro defenseman who is also playing for the South, has had his share of one-on-one battles with Kelly since they started playing together when they were 6 years old. Not once has he seen Kelly overmatched by a big moment.
"Patrick is a born leader and he's going to lead until the day he dies," Connell said. "He works so hard and pushes everybody. He's very steady and keeps his composure all the time and that helped the team a lot. Him being cool and calm in situations where there's a storm, it helped us all stay calm and helped us fight on and work through things."
There's no better example of that than the close semifinal game against Boys' Latin. Down 6-4 at the half, Kelly assisted on the opening goal of the third quarter, scored the next two to give the Cardinals the lead, and finished with five of his eight points in the deciding second half.
His confidence and take-charge ways carried over in the Cardinals' lopsided win over Loyola in the MIAA title game.
"He had a great season and was a big reason for their success," Loyola coach Jack Crawford said. "Competing in our league and enjoying that success, you've got to have the confidence that comes with experience and the knowledge that you have the special physical ability to do it."
The following week, with final exams already out of the way, Kelly, who finished with a 4.0 grade point average, was able to savor the biggest win of his career. He spent a lot of his free time with family, visited with teammates and accepted congratulations as the individual awards began to roll in.
"It's what you put into it and we sure put a lot of work into it. I never worked that hard for something and it makes it feel that much better," said Kelly, who will study to become a surgeon at North Carolina.
Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic
Date: Saturday, June 30
Time: Girls at 5 p.m.; boys at 8 p.m.
Location: Johnny Unitas Stadium, Towson University
Tickets: $26 (premium); $21 (general admission); $16 (youth — 12 & under)
TV: Boys game on ESPNUCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun