Fernanda Bartels, Broadside Correspondent

For opposing offenses, facing the George Mason University men’s soccer goalkeeper Sean Kelley is their worst nightmare. The Lexington, Ky. native held opponents scoreless in six of the nine final games last season.

Kelley started playing soccer when he was young. Coming from a family of athletes, the talent for sports came naturally.  His father, Scott Kelley, played basketball in college.

“[My dad] was a big influence with sports [and was] always very supportive,” said Kelley.

Kelley played baseball, basketball and soccer before focusing only on soccer. When it came down to choosing his main sport, he chose soccer over the other sports because he was “better at soccer” and also his friends’ influence helped him choose.

Kelley was a standout player in high school, where he was recognized nationally in his senior year, being nominated as a member of the NSCAA All-America team, Gatorade Player of the Year as well as winning other honors. He was one step away from Mason after he caught Head Coach Greg Andrulis’ attention.

“I was part of [Andrulis’] first recruiting class. I liked where he wanted to go with the team. I also wanted to go away from home,” said Kelley.

The senior goalkeeper enters his final season for Mason as the team captain. He also earned Preseason All-CAA Team honors. He represents leadership and experience on the field—skills much needed for this season.

The team is stocked with an influx of young talent. Kelley along with four of five other returning starters will attempt to help guide the young players for the future. In addition, the team relies on Kelley’s veteran leadership to prepare the team for another conference title and possibly another appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

“It is taking us awhile, but we have a very talented team and it is just a matter of time,” said Kelley.

Last season, Kelley won 13 games and allowed just below one goal per game. In 21 games, he recorded 10 shutouts.

“We are supposed to win [the conference]. All the other coaches pointed us as favorites. It is a lot of pressure,” said Kelley. “Last year we made it to the second round [of the NCAA Tournament]. I am hoping to make it to the third round this year,” said Kelley.

Kelley’s high expectations for his senior year are grounded in an impressive collegiate soccer career. In 2006, some of his awards included CAA Rookie of the Year, All-CAA Second Team and 2006 College Soccer News All-Freshman First Team.

In 21 games, he recorded a minuscule 0.64 goals per game with 102 saves. That was the only season where he had at least 100 saves. He also had an 87.9 save percentage, which was sixth-best in the nation.

He was selected Preseason All-CAA and won the Martin Dunphy Goalkeeper of the Year award in his sophomore year.

Last season, Kelley was selected Third-Team All-CAA selection and ranked third in the CAA in save percentage. He was also named Mason’s Student-Athlete of the Month in September.

Awards aside, Kelley has a simple goal for his final season playing for Mason.

“Play good. As long as the team does well, awards take care of themselves,” said Kelley.

After the season is over, Kelley is unsure about his next steps on the field.

“If I have a chance, I want to play pro.  But I don’t know if I’m wild enough to go to Europe or somewhere else,” said Kelley.