Connor Kelly: The 2-point king
Nobody has more 2-point goals in the past four years than Connor Kelly.
Since joining the Waterdogs in 2020, Kelly has ranked top 10 in 2-pointers all four seasons, scoring multiple in each.
This year, Kelly and Tucker Dordevic have led the league with five 2-pointers, but Kelly’s done it in three fewer games. He’s averaging a league-high .83 per game and has scored at least one in half of his appearances.
The Waterdogs’ midfield is brimming with shooting depth, giving Kelly more opportunities from range. He’s converted at a career rate as a result. Using a combination of elite vision and a quick trigger, Kelly has taken his already-elite long ball to another level this season.
The addition of Jake Carraway, another high-volume shooter, has given opposing defenses a tall task. With two players who specialize in velocity and accuracy, head coach Andy Copelan has given his midfielders the gift of consistently free hands. Thus, four of Kelly’s five 2s have been assisted.
“That’s one of the reasons we made the [Carraway] free agency thing happen,” said head coach Andy Copelan. “I believe whoever wins that two-point battle throughout the course of the game really puts themselves at a distinct advantage.”
The Waterdogs are the only attack unit with three 25-point scorers this season, often leaving the top of the arc open for business, where “CK” leads the way.
Early this season, Kelly set a PLL record with three 2s and nine points, willing the Waterdogs to a comeback victory over Atlas. He scored all three in the span of 14 minutes, exhibiting an uncanny ability to score the deep ball on command.
With 58 seconds left in the game, Kelly and Carraway displayed why Copelan is so high on the pair of 2-ball connoisseurs in the midfield. As soon as Kelly set a screen for Carraway at the top, both defenders flocked to the ball, and Kelly stepped back with a cavernous shooting lane.
He bounced it off the turf for the score before netting the game-winner 48 seconds later. It was a day to remember for “CK.”
This play encapsulates the value of this midfield pairing. They spread the field for their elite attack unit, giving both players more looks on the top-down two-man game. Carraway even embraced Kelly’s role in the pick game during his absence. It has resulted in his best statistical season as a 2-point shooter in terms of goals and shot percentage for either player.
In Seattle last week, Kelly iced the game on a 4th-quarter 2. With time running out on the power play, Kelly was wide open from way downtown. Anticipating the swing pass from Ethan Walker, he stepped into a swift catch-and-shoot that bounced off the grass and over Blaze Riorden’s head, extending the lead to five.
Kelly’s zero hesitation and pin-point accuracy from beyond the arc has been a catalyst for the Dogs, especially in big moments. And what’s more, those qualities have seeped into the repertoire of other shooters like Carraway.
Having his hands free is a “dream come true,” Kelly said after the Atlas game. But this season, that dream has been more of a consistent reality from beyond the arc.